Lucky Strike Of The Week

Is there an art to cracking a safe or is it just luck?

One of the attractions of the Heritage Museum in Vermilion in Alberta, Canada, is a safe, dating from 1907, from the town’s Brunswick Hotel. When the hotel was renovated in 1992, the safe was donated to the museum. There was one problem though – no one knew the code to the safe’s combination lock.

The museum had tried various methods to get the safe open, ranging from trying default combinations, bringing in experts and contacting former employees of the hotel, all to no avail. The safe door, which had last opened in 1977, remained resolutely shut, which, I suppose, is what you want with a safe.

Then along came Stephen Mills. He and his family paid a visit to the museum and after hearing the saga of the safe decided to have a go at opening it. Noticing that the combination lock’s numbers ran from 0 to 60, he entered the sequence 20-40-60 and turned the knob. Hey, presto the door sprang open.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a pile of cash inside, just an old pay sheet and a restaurant order pad, including receipts for a mushroom burger (C$0.59) and a packet of fags (C$1.00). But at least the mystery is over and with it, possibly, the museum’s only claim to fame.

I wonder if Stephen bought a lottery ticket when he left the museum.

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Mores Romani

I’m not normally one for fancy dress but I was looking forward to a trip to Rome as an excuse to liberate my leather centurion’s breastplate and toga from the stygian depths of our attic. But it seems I have missed my chance.

The authorities in Rome have just issued a slew of rules aimed at clamping down on what they consider to be uncouth behaviour. Dressing up as a Roman (ancient, that is) is now verboten as is what they term as messy eating in front of historic sites. Whether you will get a spell in what the Italians call al fresco or just a flea in your ear for eating a pizza or ice cream in the open outside some pile or other is not clear.

Other infractions on Roman sensibilities that are now beyond the pale include dragging wheeled suitcases and buggies up and down historic staircases, walking around bare-chested (all sexes, I assume), singing on public transport, and wrapping your mouth around the nozzles of the city’s drinking fountains. And if you must do your laundry, don’t hang it out in the space between buildings.

I suppose, as St Augustine wrote in around 390 CE to Januarius, it is a case of “Romanum venio, ieiuno Sabbato; hic sum, non ieiuno” which has been (very) loosely translated as when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or perhaps the Stooges got it right; “No fun, babe, no fun”.

Burglar Of The Week

It is not a very nice feeling, discovering that your house has been broken into. Still if you do suffer this misfortune, just pray that the intruder is the same as the one who entered Nate Roman’s home in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Arriving home from work, Nate immediately realised something was amiss. But instead of the usual scene of turmoil, ransacked drawers, overturned furniture, smashed objects and the like that normally greets a victim of a burglary, he was confronted with the sight of beds that had been made, carpets which had been swept, toilets that had been cleaned and the pièce de résistance, origami roses on the end of the toilet roll.

Somewhat baffled, Nate called the old bill who were equally perplexed, no other similar incidents having been reported in the area. The only thought they had was that the door may have been unlocked and a cleaning company had come into the wrong house and given it a spruce up. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about, the robbers thought the house was such a mess that they gave it a spring clean rather relieving the owners of their possessions. How would that make you feel?

My theory is that it was a dove on its way back from Germany.

Bird Of The Week (2)

It may be the anarchic side of me coming out but I love it when the long arm of the law is frustrated by a freak of nature.

A motorist was caught on a speed camera in Viersen in Germany doing 54 km/ph in a 30 km/ph limit. Germany, it seems, is still able to afford to run its cameras unlike austerity Britain. Anyway, the driver should have earned themselves a €105 fine for their indiscretion but for one thing.

At the very moment the photo was taken a dove flew across the windscreen with wings outstretched, obscuring the face of the driver from the beady eye of the lens.

There but for the grace of God, you might say.

Bender Of The Week (9)

This curious tale starts out like the opening to a rather cheesy joke – a duck walked into a McDonald’s restaurant in Chester. Unable to make its presence known or grab anything that passes for food, the duck waddled about for a while, feeling sorry for itself.

In walked Lee Gaudoin and Neil Edwards-Cecil who had had a few sherbets to celebrate the latter’s 40th birthday, anxious for a cheeseburger to soak up the alcohol. They spotted the duck, opened the door for it and allowed it to walk out to freedom.

But then an enormous row broke out between the two, culminating in the arrival of the police , the deployment of CS gas and an appearance at the local magistrate’s court before the beak, Magistrate Fiona Crane (you couldn’t make it up). The duo were arguing over the bird but quite why and what about is shrouded in mystery. Gaudoin told the magistrate “I don’t know how it escalated from there”.

The night out cost the pair £85 in court costs, although they received unconditional discharges. The moral of the story is when you have had a few, just think that the duck you see in the corner of the room is an apparition.  I do all the time.

Error Of The Week (4)

Ever had one of those days at work when time seems to drag ever so slowly? Well, a couple of assistants at the Cycle King store in the lovely Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds did and the discovery of a dead mouse seemed manna from heaven.

What to do with it?

Cremate it, of course. The duo, Ashley Finley and Dysney Sibbons, duly doused the mouse’s remains with some form of fuel or accelerant and set fire to it. But, in the words of Bob Dylan, they “used a little too much force”.

The fire, Ipswich Crown Court heard, quickly got out of control and spread to a neighbouring pub and restaurant in the Angel Hill district of the town, causing damage estimated as £1.6m, and requiring twelve fire crews to attend the scene. The pair pleaded guilty to causing arson by reckless behaviour in what the judge described as an attempt “to amuse themselves to alleviate a boring day by cremating a mouse”.

They are to be sentenced soon and seem to have lost their jobs. Still it created a spark of excitement in what otherwise would have been a dull day.

Cushion Of The Week

Our local high street is full of charity shops. I like to do my bit by donating bric-a-brac for them to sell on and raise a bit of dosh for their particular good cause. But, in my experience, they are getting rather picky as to what they accept. I thought their role in life was to accept and try to sell on junk that no one in their right mind would give house room but these days they seem to perceive themselves as purveyors of pre-used quality items.

Occasionally their decision to reject an item seems to be on the money. Take the case of this rather elegant, floral, blue and white cushion, which brand new would cost you £20 from an American retail site, Look Human. A woman tried to donate a pair to her local charity shop but was astonished when her kind offer was declined, she reported on a Facebook page called Mrs Hinch Made Me Do It.

When she studied the design more carefully, the reason why quickly dawned on her. If you look at the flowers in the design, they are cleverly designed penises. Look Human’s site describes the 14-inch pillow as having a “subtle floral penis pattern”. And, naturally, they come with an insert.

She left the shop with her charitable feelings well and truly pricked.