Weird, wild and wonderful events of
PARIS - A selection of zany events from the year just ending:
- In a new twist on the influx of Polish workers to Britain, an ad appeared
in newspapers serving Muslim communities in the east European nation asking for
Polish halal butchers to work in Britain.
- An 82-year-old Australian cartoonist who was expert at doing high-speed
sketches of sports participants was able to do a quick drawing of a man who
robbed his home. Police used it to arrest the burglar.
- The authorities in a Czech town on the border with Austria ordered an
Austrian hotel to trim its roof, which was protruding a few centimetres (inches)
across the boundary.
- Ziggy Stardust, an indiscreet parrot in England, blew the cover on its
mistress's love affair by repeating her amorous exchanges in front of her
companion. The latter, named Chris, realised something was up when the bird
started squawking "Gary, I love you."
- A woman's handbag containing jewellery and cash worth some 110,000 US
dollars was returned intact to its owner in Melbourne, Australia, after she
absent-mindedly left it hanging on a shopping trolley. The extremely honest
finder wished to remain anonymous.
- Police thought they were onto a terrible crime when a woman's skeleton
turned up in the sea off western France with a gash in the skull. Carbon dating
later revealed that it was in fact over 500 years old.
- A pair of 17th-century cannon left outside a workshop where they were being
restored on the Greek island of Crete narrowly escaped being melted down when a
firm of scrap merchants hauled them off by mistake.
- A Frenchman who had braved lawsuits to deep freeze his dead parents' bodies
gave up when his freezer system broke down. He had hoped to one day bring them
back to life thanks to medical progress.
- Drivers venturing to use their satellite navigation system in an English
village called Crackpot found themselves being erroneously directed to the top
of a steep cliff.
- A talentless street musician in the Dutch town of Leiden got local people
so upset by his awful saxophone playing that they got police to confiscate his
- New Yorkers were gripped by the story of a cat called Molly which got stuck
between the double walls of an old building in Greenwich Village. It took 40
firefighters and two weeks of work to get her out, safe and sound.
- Drinkers had to be evacuated from a Welsh pub when somebody realised that a
tubular object that the landlord's wife had long used as a rolling-pin was in
fact a World War II shell.
- Policewomen in the Netherlands were furious when they were issued with new
uniforms including blouses which turned out to be transparent.
- A British taxi driver who showed up at BBC headquarters in London to pick
up a fare was mistaken for a computer expert, and bustled into a studio and
given a microphone to be interviewed.
- A Christian missionary group in the United States toured pornography
conventions to hand out literature affirming that "Jesus loves porn stars."
- Vietnamese police broke up a network that was helping students to cheat in
exams via mobile phones hidden under long wigs.
- A canny Canadian internet user showed the potential of online trading
systems by gradually bartering a paperclip into a three-bedroomed house. The
clip was first exchanged for a wooden pen, which was traded for a ceramic
doorknob, and the process continued right up to the house.
- In a real-life version of a scene from countless cartoons, a 45-year-old
woman fell over a precipice in the French Alps but was caught on a tree root
which snagged her foot. She was rescued, shocked but unhurt, two and a half
- Small fish rained down on a village in southern India. A scientist said
they were probably picked up by a waterspout or mini-tornado out at sea.
- The US fast food giant McDonald's agreed to change the shape of the cups
used for one of its desserts after English animal lovers complained that
hedgehogs -- a threatened species -- were getting their snouts stuck in them and
- A 68-year-old man in northern Nigeria told reporters that after having
married a total of 201 women in 48 years, he had resolved to make do with the
four wives he still had. His main complaint: older wives had an unfortunate
tendency to turn the younger ones against him.
- To greet the annual Nobel Prizes, tongue-in-cheek scientists in the United
States handed out their own "Ignobel" awards. They included rewards for boffins
who had researched into why woodpeckers don't get headaches from all that
tapping, and whether dung beetles really enjoy their diet of faeces.
- Kazakhstan reacted first with irritation then with resigned humour to a
filmed spoof by the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. The jokes in the film,
"Borat", in fact turned out to be mostly at the expense of Americans, who
nevertheless lapped it up at the box-office.
- In the real-world Kazakhstan, meanwhile, national mint officials were
red-faced when it emerged that they had mis-spelled the word "bank" on their
newly issued notes.
- The Marine Corps in the United States said it had finally decided to accept
a gift of 4,000 Jesus dolls which recited the scriptures, and were destined to
be given to needy children for Christmas. The group which had donated them had
complained vocally when officials tried to refuse the