Oddities&Endities

Friday, May 26, 2006

This Town Ain't Big Enough ...


Chirac and Sarkozy's horses keep up vendetta
By Henry Samuel in Paris
(Filed: 26/05/2006)

The enmity between France's fiercest political rivals Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac has extended to their horses.
The two horses, appropriately named Sarkozy and Chirac when they were presented to the politicians on recent trips to Mali, had to be forcibly separated after a violent kick-fight in a stable, it was reported yesterday.
Mr Sarkozy, the interior minister and head of the ruling UMP party, was given a magnificent bay steed from a regional governor during a visit in 2003. A few months later, President Chirac received a grey, dappled horse from his Malian counterpart, Amadou Toumani Touré. Both left their horses behind.
Sarkozy, his groom told the magazine Le Canard Enchainé, is a "short and jumpy horse" - a fair description of his diminutive, excitable owner. Chirac, on the other hand, was reportedly "tall and calm".
The pair were kept at lavish stables in Bamako, the Malian capital. Initially they shared a box, but after a few days, the two could no longer stand each other's company, and Sarkozy was said to have savagely kicked his companion.
Daily Telegraph

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Taste of Defeat


Boadicea may have had her chips on site of McDonald's
By Nick Britten
(Filed: 25/05/2006)

Archaeologists believe they may have found the final battle site for the warrior queen Boadicea - on the site of a McDonald's restaurant.
Having spent her life in fierce resistance to one empire - the Romans - her last stand is thought to have been overshadowed by another one, this time corporate.
Having found ancient artefacts where new houses and flats are due to be built, experts have now asked the local authority to allow a full excavation of the area.
Little is known about Boadicea's last fight, or the way in which she died, but it is widely believed to have taken place in the West Midlands. The site unearthed by experts, in Kings Norton, Birmingham, lies close to the line of a Roman road, and fits many of the few facts available.
The Queen of the Iceni tribe, the ancient native Britons, had a final showdown with Governor General Suetonius Paulinus in 61 AD. Her 200,000 soldiers were annihilated by just 10,000 legionaries, ending the British rebellion.
One of the most popular theories is that afterwards Boadicea killed herself by drinking from a poisoned chalice.
Daily Telegraph

Fine by Me


Town plans to fine its unmarried parents
By Harry Mount
(Filed: 25/05/2006)

A staunchly Catholic town in Missouri is planning to fine unmarried parents for living together under the same roof with their children.
Olivia Shelltrack, 31, her boyfriend, Fondray Loving, 33, and their three children, one from Miss Shelltrack's previous relationship, have been denied an occupancy permit to live in the five-bedroom house they have just bought in Black Jack, a town of 6,800.
A Black Jack law forbids more than three people living together in a single family home unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption".
The Black Jack council has refused occupancy permits to 10 unmarried couples with children in recent years.
Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Every One a Winner !


40 candidates run for office in village with only 63 voters
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
(Filed: 24/05/2006)

There are only 63 people in the medieval village of Bergolo eligible to vote in Italy's local elections on Sunday.
But they will not be stuck for choice at the ballot box: 40 candidates are running for office.
The village, which nestles in the rolling hills of Piedmont, has the dubious distinction of having more aspiring politicians per person than anywhere else in Italy. The candidates, whose ages range from 26 to 71, are running for mayor and for nine seats on the village's council.
Before a change in the electoral law in the 1990s, candidates had to gather at least 20 signatures to run, but now they merely have to declare themselves at the town hall. Many candidates only have a second home in Bergolo.
Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I believe everything a survey tells me...


Women claim cash is not important
By Sally Pook
(Filed: 23/05/2006)

Women don't want millionaires. They don't want high-earners. In fact they don't even want a man with a salary.
A survey published yesterday said women claim money is unimportant when choosing a partner.
Someone here, as Alan Clark once said, is being economical with the actualité.
A staggering 83 per cent of women questioned by First Direct said they would be happy to go out with a man who earned much less than them or was unemployed.
On the dating tick-list, did not a job always come under the "essentials" section, along with a sense of humour and original hair and teeth?
Kath Parrington, of First Direct, said: "This is a reflection of the fact that women are taking more control of their own finances and are more independent."
The survey found that 93 per cent of women would not turn a man down just because he was not a high earner. Only three per cent said they would consider breaking up with someone who did not earn enough.
Daily Telegraph

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Word in Your Ear ...


Pssst, have you heard the latest ... gossiping can win you friends
RHIANNON EDWARD
Last updated: 20-May-06 01:37 BST

IT'S official - gossiping really is good for you. Scientists have revealed that it can win you friends and boost your self-esteem. Researchers studied relationships between office workers over a period of 12 years and discovered that although some gossips caused problems, in general there were positive effects.
"We certainly do not deny that gossip behaviour has it drawbacks," said Professor Jennifer Bosson, of the University of Oklahoma, who led the study. "But we believe that shared, mild, negative attitudes towards others can create and amplify friendships.
"Sharing negative attitudes about others may actually promote closeness and friendship."
The researchers, whose findings are published today in the journal Personal Relationships, also found that the biggest gossips often find their actions addictive.
News.Scotsman.Com

Friday, May 19, 2006

Future of London put on Ice


Water company bosses plan to tow icebergs up Thames
By Lewis Smith
The Times May 17, 2006

Transporting water by road or via a national grid has been rejected because of the scale of the shortages and the costs
TOWING icebergs from the Arctic is among the measures proposed by water chiefs to solve emergency shortages.
The prospect of icebergs sailing up the Thames Estuary to keep London and the Home Counties supplied with tap water seems far-fetched but is under serious consideration by Thames Water.
Times Online

Hide in Plain Sight...


Illegals arrested at work in Home Office
By Graeme Wilson, Political Correspondent
(Filed: 19/05/2006)

Five illegal immigrants were arrested yesterday while working as cleaners in the Home Office department responsible for removing illegal immigrants.
The Nigerians were detained when they arrived for work at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate offices in central London.
The Nigerians slipped through the net after being hired by a cleaning firm that sent them to Beckett House - the building that houses officials who are meant to be tracking down and removing hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
Daily Telegraph

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Peak of Piano Playing ...


Ben Nevis piano mystery solved
(Filed: 18/05/2006)

The mystery surrounding the discovery of a piano near the top of Britain's highest mountain appears to have been solved.
Volunteers clearing stones from the 4,418ft peak stumbled across the musical instrument on Ben Nevis at the weekend.
But it now appears that the instrument is actually an organ, and that it had been up the mountain for more than 35 years.
Kenny Campbell, a woodcutter from Bonar Bridge in the Highlands, has come forward to say that he carried it up the summit to raise money for a cancer charity in 1971.
Mr Campbell, 64, has also taken a beer barrel, a plough and a gas cylinder up Ben Nevis.
Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sounds a bit ruff...


The barking mad council teaching you to talk dog
By David Sapsted
(Filed: 17/05/2006)

A council is offering pet owners free lessons in how to talk dog.
Translating the language of dogs, with the help of a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs guide to what everything from a growl to a whimper means, is considered a vital step in Peterborough city council's fight against nuisance barking.
An animal behaviourist, a vet and, in case one of the subjects bites anyone, a nurse will be on hand next week when the council puts on the course to mark Noise Action Week.
Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bang on!!


Ferry passengers stranded as bomb floats down Mersey
(Filed: 16/05/2006)

Nearly 150 ferry passengers and 101 crew are currently stranded on ships in the River Mersey after a large bomb was seen floating in the water.
The 1,000lb device, thought to be a Second World War relic, was reported to HM Coastguard near the entrance to Twelve Quays Dock in Birkenhead at around midnight.
The bomb, which is 7ft long and 26in wide, was dropped by a German plane during the Second World War, and was designed to penetrate fortified docks, submarine pens and concrete slipways.
Daily Telegraph

Monday, May 15, 2006

...and here's a corny story...


Sweetcorn 'drives us round the bend'
By David Sapsted
(Filed: 15/05/2006)

The increasing popularity of sweetcorn has had an unexpected side effect - it is now the main cause of blocked drains.
Home owners pouring corn down the sink are blamed for the fact that tons of the maize hybrid are having to be removed from blocked drains and sewers by water firms.
Bill Lilly, Severn Trent's general manager for sewage treatment, says that while every-thing from bicycles and shopping trolleys to jewellery and false teeth present temporary problems, it is run-of-the-mill items that are the main offenders.
"Believe it or not, sweetcorn is our number one item in terms of volume and nuisance factor," he says.
Other items in the top 10 include medicines, cotton buds, nappies, sanitary products, condoms, and items of underwear and clothing, especially socks and tights.
Daily Telegraph

Friday, May 12, 2006

Now, that IS cheesy!


Stilton perfume? You must be crackers
By Nigel Bunyan
(Filed: 12/05/2006)

The makers of Stilton cheese have launched their own perfume.
Eau de Stilton claims to "recreate the earthy and fruity aroma" of the pungent blue cheese "in an eminently wearable perfume".
Nigel White, of the SCA, brushed off suggestions that it might not be the most alluring of scents.
"Blue Stilton cheese has a very distinctive, mellow aroma and our perfumier was able to capture the key essence of that scent and recreate it in what is an unusual but highly wearable perfume," he said.
Daily Smelegraph

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What a thilly thong...


Latvia grapples with EU over euro
BBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 20:14 GMT
The Baltic state of Latvia has stuck its mother tongue out at the European Union by refusing to call the single currency by its official name.
Despite pleas from the European Central Bank to stick to the official "euro" name, Latvia prefers to call the currency the "eiro" instead.
This is because euro is a non-existent word in Latvian.
"The 'eu' dipthong is alien to the Latvian language," says Latvia's education minister Ina Druviete.
BBC News
Prompted by Dipthong Search

Sunday, May 07, 2006


No spitting on holiday, Chinese told
By Peter Goff in Shanghai
(Filed: 06/05/2006)

Chinese tourists have been told by their government to watch their manners on holiday, as behaviour that "merely disgusts" at home might not be tolerated abroad.
Spitting, slurping food and skipping queues are the kind of "bad social graces" some Chinese tourists display while on holiday, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Daily Telegraph


QPR director 'was forced to quit at gunpoint'
By Duncan Gardham
(Filed: 05/05/2006)

A boardroom takeover turned into "something out of a gangster film" when a football club director was told to resign at gunpoint, a court heard yesterday.
Gianni Paladini, a member of the board of London team Queens Park Rangers, was asked to join another director in an office at the club where he was confronted by a gang of "hired muscle", Blackfriars Crown Court was told.
"I don't know whether some of you watch television and see The Sopranos", David Williams, QC, prosecuting, asked the jury. "This is like something out of a gangster film. It was against this scenario that Gianni Paladini was forced to write his own letter of resignation.
Mr Williams said: "There were those at QPR who wanted Gianni Paladini out and chief amongst them was David Morris." Morris apparently asked Mr Paladini if he could "have a word" immediately before their side kicked off in a game against Sheffield United.
The court heard the two men were alone in the chief executive's office when six men burst in. A gun was placed on the table in front of Mr Paladini and he felt another gun pushed into his head from behind.
Mr Paladini was allegedly told to resign his position on the board of directors and surrender his shares and was ordered to leave the ground and never come back.
Daily Telegraph


The sitting tenant who is going nowhere fast
By Richard Savill
(Filed: 06/05/2006)
A tortoise who has been a sitting tenant in a family home for 60 years has been offered to potential buyers in the sale of the property.
Anyone wanting to purchase the five-bedroom house in Exeter, Devon, is being asked to look after the tortoise, Eliza, who is believed to have lived in the £345,000 house since the Second World War.
Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Scientists gain insight into invisibility
through a complex superlens
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 03/05/2006)

The Klingons used it to make their Bird of Prey spacecraft invisible. The Romulans used cloaking too and variants of this stealth technology hid the nasty alien in the Predator films and have been mentioned in Star Wars, Doctor Who and more besides.
Prof Graeme Milton, of the University of Utah, and Nicolae-Alexandru Nicorovici, of the University of Technology, Sydney, announce that "we have found that cloaking might be realised". The "making of an object invisible through some cloaking device is commonly regarded as science fiction", said Prof Milton.
But with Dr Nicorovici he outlines how to do it with the help of materials with bizarre optical properties that were first postulated in 1968 by Victor Veselago, a physicist working at the General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
When an object is bathed in light of one colour, Prof Milton and Dr Nicorovici predict that light becomes trapped near the lens and "almost exactly cancels the light incident on each molecule in the object, so it has essentially no response to the incident light. Numerically we see that the molecule is effectively invisible".
Daily Telegraph