Christmas Decorations Of The Year (4)

Spotted in a street in Reading near the town’s university. It even twinkles!

It is thought that the house is occupied by students and, naturally, the local residents are horrified.

Bah, humbug!

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Santa Of The Week

It may not be a terribly fashionable thing to say in these days of gender fluidity but I have never given a nanosecond of thought to what sex Father Christmas should be.

I have always considered the white beard and the name was rather conclusive but not so in the Durham town of Newton Aycliffe. For the last 50 years or so on Christmas Eve Santa, played by a man, tours the town in a flatbed truck handing out sweets to the local children. A charming tradition, I’m sure you will agree.

But a debate broke out over the sex of Santa this year – it went to no higher an authority than the Council – after a woman offered to play the part of Father Christmas, with her husband driving the truck. A meeting of the full Council last week rejected the recommendation of a sub-committee that the part could be played by a woman.

At least some traditions remain unsullied by political correctness.

A Santa of a different sort caused a bit of a problem, I read this week, in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. A giant inflatable Father Christmas broke free from its moorings in a garden on the B198 Cromwell Road and blocked both lanes of the road, making it impassable for around 3.5 hours.

The police had to pop it before traffic could move.

Ah, the joys of Christmas!

Stunt Of The Week (5)

If you must use peanut butter, it is best to smear it over a piece of toast rather than your testicles, as this cautionary tale shows.

A 22-year-old-man, unnamed, was found lying in a pool of blood in his flat in Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland. He was found to have what police described as a “significant injury to his groin area” and an English bulldog called Biggie, apparently named after the rapper Biggie Smalls, nearby with a satisfied grin over its chops.

On further investigation, the man was found to have smeared peanut butter on his genitals and Biggie presumably felt that a meal of meat and two veg with added condiment too much to resist.

The dog was put down, the man put into an induced coma for several days but, alas, his genitalia were not recovered for re-attachment.

Bet he won’t do that again!

Island Of The Week (2)

Farewell, Esanbe Hanakita Kojima. You were hardly missed.

The disappearance of the Japanese island off Hokkaido was only noticed by author, Hiroshi Shimizu, when he visited the area, saw a void where the island once stood and consulted sea charts.

Last surveyed in 1987 when it poked five feet out of the sea, it was only named in 2014 when the Japanese were trying to cement their ownership of the 158 or so uninhabited islands around their coastline. Esanbe was seized by the Soviets at the end of the Pacific War and a peace treaty between the two nations is yet to be signed because of the ongoing dispute over these islands.

What happened to Esanbe?

Experts think that erosion from wind and ice floes that form in the Sea of Okhotsk persuaded the island to make a graceful disappearance.

Perhaps it is a case of yin and yang. After all, in 2013 a landslide caused a 1,000-foot strip of land on Hokkaido to rise out of the sea.

Crime Of The Week (3)

What is more annoying; finding that the last page of a book is missing or someone giving away the ending of a story when you are half way through?

It takes a special sort of person to spend time in Antarctica. After a hard day’s working on scientific projects, there is very little to do other than read a good book.

Russian scientists, Sergey Savitsky and Oleg Beloguzov, have spent four years on the Bellinghausen station on Antarctica’s King George island. On 9th October, I read this week, Savitsky snapped and, allegedly, attacked his colleague with a kitchen knife, stabbing him in the chest in what is thought to be the first recorded incident of attempted murder on the icy continent.

Savitsky has been extradited to Russia whilst Beloguzov is recuperating in Chile.

The cause of the crime?

Investigators report that Beloguzov “kept telling his colleague the endings of books before he read them.

Being a book reviewer can be a dangerous pastime, it would seem.

Crime Of The Week (2)

Well, almost.

Six individuals, apparently armed, entered an e-cigarette shop in the suburbs of the Belgian town of Charleroi, I read this week.

After demanding that the shopkeeper hand over his takings, the enterprising Didier pointed out to the would-be thieves that it was only the middle of the afternoon and that if they came back at the end of the day, there would be far more money for them to take.

The dim wits duly left the shop and Didier rang the police who were unsurprisingly sceptical that the gang would return.

But they did, at 17.30.

Again, Didier pointed out that his shop hadn’t finished trading and if they would come back an hour later, there would be much more to take.

Astonishingly, they returned a third time at 18.30 by which time a plain-clothed policeman was in situ to apprehend them. Five had their collars felt, the sixth, who, perhaps, was not quite as dim as his colleagues, scarpered.

Talking of dim wits, take a bow, Lee Furlong, from Liverpool.

He thought it would be a good idea to spray some graffiti on an inviting blank red-bricked wall at the 800-year-old Tha Phae gate in Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Not only was he and his accomplice caught on CCTV and tracked down to their accommodation, the aptly named Mad Monkey hostel, but he demonstrated his illiteracy to the world by spraying “Scousse Lee”.

He could face up to ten years in chokey, long enough, perhaps, to learn to spell Scouse.

Theft Of The Week (2)

I’m of an age that every now and again I get an invitation to apply some faecal matter to a stick and send it back in the post.

No, I’m not a member of some weird fetish group. It is part of the Health Service’s campaign to check old codgers for bowel cancer. I really must get around to doing it.

Some organisations take a more direct approach to increasing awareness of diseases to the bowel. Take the University of Kansas Cancer Centre. They use a ten-foot, inflatable model of a diseased colon, weighing 150 lbs and worth $4,000, to drive the message home.

Or did.

Someone, I read this week, has stolen it from the back of the truck in which it was stored. The Centre would rather like it back and you can imagine that the thief experienced a certain sense of disappointment when they got their loot home and unfurled it.

For sure, it might make an interesting inflatable for the kids to play with but it must have a rather limited resale value.

The police, of course, are straining every muscle to catch the culprit but the man in the picture has been eliminated from their enquiries.