Category Archives: News

Reaction Of The Week


What is it with cats and cucumbers?

Social media is full of, frankly, inexplicable trends that go viral. One of the lates is videos of cat owners placing a cucumber behind their pet. When the cat turns round, it jumps out of its skin.

While not exactly an ailurophile, I do find the videos a little cruel, but why do cats react in this way when they encounter a cucumber unexpectedly?

According to Jill Goldman, a certified animal behaviourist, I leave you to draw your own conclusions, the cucumbers trigger the cat’s natural startle reflexes. Their natural reaction is to jump out of the way and then have a good luck to see whether the object poses any threat. Some think that they mistake the fruit for a snake and are especially concerned when they encounter one in an area that they regard as a safe haven, such as where they eat.

As with most social media crazes, videos of startled cats will soon be a thing of the past, but it is good to have an explanation of the behaviour.

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Desperation Of The Week

To what lengths would you go to retrieve your mobile phone?

An unnamed woman dropped her mobile phone down a toilet, one of those chemical jobbies with a big septic tank, near the top of Mount Walker in the Olympic National Forest, northwest of Seattle. Rather than curse her bad luck, she decided to try to fish it out.

Showing remarkable ingenuity, she managed to remove the toilet seat and using dog leads attempted to snare the phone. This did not work so her next idea was to tie herself to the toilet with the dog leads and dangle down in a desperate attempt to grab hold of the phone. The leads gave way and the woman found herself at the bottom of the tank, unable to get out.

The good news was that she had managed to get hold of her phone and, surprisingly, it still worked. She then dialled 911 and members of the Brinnon Fire Department came along to rescue her. To do this they had to pass down some blocks on which she stood to get her out of the pool of human waste and then winched her out using a harness. After a wash down, the firemen recommended that she sought medical treatment, but she decided to go her own, fragrant way.

The moral of the story is never use your mobile near a toilet.

Bottle Of The Week

The drinks industry is slowly embracing sustainability and making strides to reduce its carbon footprint. Single-use glass bottles and their transportation make up 39% of the overall wine industry’s carbon emissions.

An Ipswich-based company, Frugalpac, reckon they have come up with the answer – the Frugal Bottle, which is made from 94% recycled paper and has a carbon footprint that is just a sixth of a single-use bottle. To counter concerns that a soggy paper bottle will cause its contents to leak, it has a recyclable plastic pouch inside. Whether the wine will taste the same as when it is poured out of a dark-green glass bottle is a matter for the drinker to decide.

The first vintner to embrace the paper bottle, although trying not to squeeze it too hard, is alt-format specialist, When in Rome. They have a trio of wines, their Peccorino IGP Terre di Chieti and Rosato, produced by a grower in Aruzzo, and their Primitivo IGP Puglia, produced by Tenuta Viglione, available in the new format through Ocado.

Sir Kenelm Digby will doubtless be amused that it has taken nigh on four centuries to come up with an eco-friendly alternative to his revolutionary glass wine bottle. Let’s see whether it catches on.

Typo Of The Week (2)

Typographical errors are the bane of the lives of all those associated with the production of books, journals, and newspapers. When Robert Barker and Martin Lucas printed 1,000 copies of their edition of the Bible in 1631, they had failed to spot that they had omitted the word “not” from the seventh commandment in Exodus 20:14.

They had produced what became to be known as the Adulterous or Sinners’ or just plain Wicked Bible. The error which encouraged the commission of adultery was only spotted a year later and while it did not exactly bring the wrath of God on the heads of the unfortunate duo, it did provoke the ire of King Charles I. Barker and Martin were summoned before him, were stripped of their printer’s licence, and were fined £300, which, fortunately for them, was suspended. Most, but not all, of the bibles were destroyed.

One has been discovered in New Zealand, Chris Jones, a medieval historian at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, announced a few days ago. It was unearthed in 2018 and is owned by the Phil and Louise Donnithorne Family Trust. It was in poor condition, with its cover and some end pages missing, and had suffered some water damage. It has just one illegible name in the frontispiece and this version uses red and black ink, unlike many of the other surviving copies. How it got to New Zealand is a mystery as is whether the typo was deliberate, an act of industrial sabotage, or just carelessness.

It has taken four years to restore the Bible, but the text is being digitised so that all, with internet access, can enjoy it, fortunately with the typo still there. It would be a shame to correct it.

Record Of The Week (6)

“White face, black shirt/ White socks, black shoes/ Black hair, white strat/ Bled white, died black”, sang Ian Dury on Sweet Gene Vincent. Well, if you have black shoes, black trousers or skirt, a white shirt, waistcoat, and a black cape, make your way to Whitby Abbey on Thursday 26th May for 6.45pm.

To mark the 125th anniversary of the publication of Bram Stoker’s novel, English Heritage are launching a bid to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as vampires, currently standing at 1,039, set by an event organised by Ed Kuhlmann in Virginia in 2011.

Fangs on the upper teeth are compulsory, pallid skin helpful, and a menacing demeanour optional. Cloves of garlic and crosses are not welcome.

Sounds fun and it would be fitting if the record was broken at the place that inspired Bram Stoker.