Eco-friendly Christmas Decoration Of The Week

I’ve been away for three weeks and in that time my neighbours have installed their external Christmas decorations. They seem to get earlier each year. At a time when we are urged to consider our global footprint, it seems rather counter-intuitive to waste so much juice on these extravagant displays.

Perhaps they should take a leaf out of the book of the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. If you have an electric eel swimming aimlessly around in the aquarium, why not put the energy it generates to some use.

Somewhat ingeniously, Joey Turnipseed, the Aquarium’s audio-visual production specialist, has attached sensors to the tank in which their electric eel, who goes by the name of Miguel Wattson, swims in. They harness its natural electrical discharge to a set of speakers which then use the charge to power a selection of Yuletide ditties and power the flashing set of Christmas lights.

The only draw back is that when the creature is foraging for food, it only emits around 10 volts of electricity and so the lights are somewhat dim. However, there can be a power surge when the eel wants to stun its prey by unleashing 800 volts of electricity.

Still, they are doing their bit for the planet, so more power to their elbow.

Robbery Of The Week (4)

News has just reached me, I’m almost two months behind the curve on this one, of a saucy robbery staged near the village of Broughton in Northamptonshire. Thieves broke into a lorry parked in a lay-by by cutting through a lock and made off with goods worth £1 million.

They were en route from Felixstowe Docks to the Kettering warehouse of Rocks-Off Ltd, who describe themselves as a sex toy manufacturer and designer. Sex toys are either going to be scarce this Christmas or are going to be knocked out at bargain-basement prices.   

Needless, police hope to have the culprits in handcuffs and chains in due course and they could expect to face a stiff sentence.

Old Codgers Of The Week – Part Eleven

In a few years’ time historians will start the difficult task of explaining cogently and coherently how a once influential and respected nation got itself into the state it has in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Doubtless, as I write, psephologists are cutting and dicing the available data to make some sense of it all.

The clue, though, may just lie in a report just released by NHS Digital which reported that ten people aged between 90 and 99 were admitted to hospital for what they term “mental health issues” caused by snorting Charlie. Cocaine-related health issues have rocketed in the over-60s in the decade from 2008-9 from a piss-poor 45 to a mind-blowing 379.

The report’s authors hazard a guess as to why, suggesting that it may be a combination of people living longer, the lowering of the price of the stuff and its increased purity. Perhaps there is a simpler explanation; if you have always lived what might be termed a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, why wouldn’t you continue to do so as long as you could?

Of course, it puts a different complexion on seeing an old man with a runny nose and a stained collar. Don’t be quick to judge him. He may be perfectly capable of looking after his personal hygiene, he’s just indulged in some nose candy.  

Thrill-seeking codgers, high on coke and other substances, might just be the answer. I pass it on gratis to any would-be historians.     

Lifestyle Tip Of The Week (2)

It has become more than a bit of a cottage industry these days, helping students cope with stress. In my day a few beers and a couple of smokes seemed to do the trick, but it seems millennials are looking for something a bit more structured. Universities are falling over themselves to offer the poor darlings therapy dog sessions, mindfulness meetings and even designated quiet areas, what we used to call libraries.

Radboud University in the Dutch city of Nijmegen has gone one better by constructing an open grave complete with blanket and the inevitable yoga mat. Sessions last between 30 minutes and 3 hours a stretch. So popular is the concept that students are dying to use it and there is now a lengthy waiting list.

Once inside, you are encouraged to meditate on the meaning of life and the futility of your existence. The chaplain claims that it is making the youngsters appreciate their time on earth more.

They may just have a point. If after lying in an open grave for an hour you conclude that your mortal existence is pretty futile, then, hey, what are a few exams? You may as well go out and enjoy yourself. Carpe diem, after all.

But going out can be another source of stress; what to wear? Fortunately, help is at hand, courtesy of Northamptonshire County Council’s adult learning department. Costing just £15 and running in February 2020, the course promises “practical demonstrations on how to accessorise outfits” and PowerPoint lectures and group discussions on how to wear shoes, belts, bags, jewellery, and scarves.

Hurry now, spaces are limited.   

Funeral Of The Week (2)

My search for ways of livening up my funeral continues. Here’s a story that has given me some food for thought, as well as highlighting the perils of a shared freezer.

It is the custom in Germany, so I’m informed, to conclude a funeral by having a trip to a restaurant for a piece of cake and a warming cup of coffee. Here in Britain we retire to a pub and have a booze-up. No wonder we make uncomfortable bedfellows with our European friends and partners, as we seem to euphemistically call them these days.

Mourners in the German town of Wiethagen followed the tradition and settled down to eat some cake. Unfortunately, thirteen of the number, unlucky for some, felt nauseous and dizzy and needed medical treatment.

It turns out that one of the employees of the restaurant, allegedly, asked her 18-year-old daughter to bake the cakes. This she did but at the same time backed a hash cake, saving on the electric and gas bill, if nothing else. Her mother, though, took the wrong cake out of the freezer.

The girl is helping police with their enquiries but at least the funeral ended on a high.

Drug Smugglers Of The Week (2)

The British Medical Journal, I find, is always a wonderful source for the bizarre. Take this case, for instance.

Smuggling drugs into a prison requires a degree of ingenuity, so I believe. In Australia a woman brought her boyfriend some weed, helpfully hidden inside a rubber balloon. In order to get it past the prison guards, he inserted said balloon up his right nostril. Once back in his cell, looking forward to a nice chill and an evening’s contemplation on the meaning of life, he was a bit nonplussed to be unable to retrieve it and assumed that he must have swallowed it accidentally.

Over the next 18 years or so, he regularly suffered from sinus infections and complained of nasal obstructions. He eventually started to suffer from excruciating headaches and it was only then, according to Dr Murray Smith of Westmead Hospital in New South Wales, that what really happened to the balloon was revealed.

It had stayed put in his nostril and over the years calcium and magnesium salts got to work and developed a rhinolith, a stone in the nasal cavity.

It has been successfully removed but when the man learned what had happened, his nose was well and truly put out of joint.

Christmas News (3)

Here’s news to depress even the cheeriest of souls.

Heart Radio, a commercial radio station here in Blighty, launched on November 1st a new channel called Heart extra Xmas, promising “to bring festive cheer across the UK”. Its schedule is one long soundtrack of Christmas faves and anthems, playing 24 hours a day, every day of the week, uninterrupted by such external nuisances like presenters or the news.   

In their blurb, Heart describe it as “providing the perfect soundtrack to your personal winter wonderland”. More like a personal nightmare.

Roll on December 26th is all I can say.