What a year it has been. Even Borders bookshop on Oxford Street is displaying its books on management immediately next to the section on true crime.
Someone in Paris has a sense of humour. According to the most recent Paris briefing from the Economist Cities Guide:
A mysterious public artist seems to be poking fun at the city’s glorification of its notable former residents. Now, along with plaques on houses boasting Victor Hugo as an erstwhile tenant, there are signs proclaiming that on "the 17th of April 1967 nothing happened here". On a wall in the chic seventh arrondissement, a plaque now informs us that Karima Bentiffa, an otherwise unknown civil servant, lived at 9 rue Pérignon from 1984 to 1989. How long can this phantom plaque-maker continue his entertaining mischief?
My very first wedding anniversary is coming up, and I’ve been racking my brains for anniversary present ideas. However, I think I’ll pass on this one from the BBC:
An aggrieved wife has said “knickers” to her husband because of his obsession with Norwich City [football club]. Joanne Bradley was sick of playing second fiddle to the First Division club and is filing for divorce. The final straw came when husband Neil bought her some tasty Norwich underwear… as an anniversary present.
What would Delia, who’s part owner of Norwich City FC, say?
BBC1 is in the middle of a new TV series on the weather (Wild Weather). Last night’s programme featured the story of the “Accrington apples”. On the night of November 8, 1984 the house of Derek and Adrienne Haythornwhite in Accrington, Lancashire, was bombarded by at least 300 apples. More apples were discovered in nearby gardens as well. The couple were woken up at night by thunderous noises on the roof, and by the time it was over they were ankle deep in apples!
It seems the weather was responsible for picking these apples up and dumping them on the Haythornwhites, and apparently lots of things fall from the sky in a similar way (see LOOK OUT BELOW! Reports of various creatures and strange objects falling to earth). Truth is once again stranger than fiction.
I wonder how many first-time visitors to Britain are confused by the factory sign they can see from the Heathrow Express on their way to Paddington station? It says simply:
“LRS – Asia’s Finest Foods”.
Just when I thought the UK might be losing ground in the washing gadget wars, my wife spotted the Easy-Do Bathmatique in our local hardware store (could the Sudsy Studs Calendar have been her motivation?).
Unfortunately, I can’t supply a photograph at this point but I have scanned the packaging. As you can see, it’s described as a “Fillable Bathroom Cleaner” (note the ambition here – not just the bath, but the whole bathroom!), so I think it qualifies for Jonathon’s definition of a true “matique”.
I can also report that it comes in at least two colours: white and grey; and you can switch it on and off by rotating the sponge head by 45 degrees. It seems some serious thought has gone into its design, clearly making it the next step in the evolution of the original dishmatique. I think this just might put the UK back in the lead!
Here’s a quirky story from Saskatchewan dated August 28, 2002, via the CBC: Top grasshopper catcher wins Elton John tickets. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it because the CBC Arts Canada section uses Flash exclusively, so here it is in full…
Regina – A woman who collected 39,000 grasshoppers last weekend has won a pair of tickets to Elton John’s sold-out Saskatoon concert this Friday. Brandy Elliot, 26, beat her closest competitor in the radio-station contest by 6,000 bugs. “I had started on Friday by hand initially, and just put them in a bucket, but then I thought this is ridiculous I can’t get this many grasshoppers,” Elliot said. “So what we did is made three huge nets with the netting from screen doors and basically took our quarter ton truck and drove through the ditches. As soon you touch the grass they fly up. It was unbelievable.”
Elliot said she estimated the number of grasshoppers by counting the number that fit in one pail, and then counting the number of pails used to fill each of the bags she took to the radio station. After the official count, the grasshoppers were put in a dumpster behind the radio station. Elton John’s first-ever concert appearance in Saskatchewan sold out within minutes when tickets went on sale last month.
Saskatchewan is completely flat, so there’s not much else to do in summer except count the grasshoppers. Still, I bet it will make Elton John’s prairie debut pretty memorable.
Here’s an hilarious story of some confused British tourists who travelled to Sydney, Nova Scotia, instead of Sydney, Australia (Britons fly to ‘wrong’ Sydney)! In what must be the British understatement of the month (and today’s only the 5th) one of them was quoted as saying “Obviously, it was a big disappointment.”
Here’s a legal case straight out of Ally McBeal, Fat Americans sue fast food firms. It seems a group of obese Americans are suing several fast food chains, accusing them of knowingly serving meals that cause obesity and disease.
“The fast-food industry has wrecked my life,” Caesar Barbar, one of plaintiffs, told the New York Post. “I always thought it was good for you. I never thought there was anything wrong with it,” he said.
Perhaps the fast food restaurants will use the same excuse.