Parrot Of The Week

Sometimes you just want to be left alone..

Jessie, a turquoise and yellow macaw, escaped from her owner’s house in Cuckoo Hall Lane in Edmonton, North London and spent the next three days on a neighbour’s roof, resisting all attempts to encourage her to come home. Eventually, fearing that the bird was injured, the combined forces of the local RSPCA and fire brigade were summoned to effect the rescue.

But Jessie wasn’t having any of it, resisting the blandishments of the fire crew with a volley of Anglo-Saxon expletives, according to Watch manager, Chris Swallow – you couldn’t make it up. Eventually the bird, clearly unharmed, upped sticks and flew back to her owner’s house via another roof and a tree.

It is the holiday season, after all!


Coffin Of The Week (2)

Albert King sang in Born Under a Bad Sign; “If it wasn’t for bad luck, you know I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” What would you do to change your luck?

Well, three women in the South Korean city of Gumi decided to spend the night in wooden coffins, I read last week, under the impression that doing so would rid them of bad spirits and ensure that they had better luck in the future.

Around 8pm they got into the wooden boxes but after a couple of hours one of them rose, Lazarus like, complaining that she couldn’t breath and that she was too hot. But her colleagues persuaded her to grin and bear it.

When, at 6.30 am the following day, one of the other women woke up and very kindly lifted the lids of the coffins, she found one of her friends sound asleep but the one who had been complaining earlier was stiff as a board, dead.

Local police think that a combination of the coffin’s air-tightness and the extraordinarily high temperatures the Korean peninsula has been experiencing contributed to the woman’s demise.

Guess it didn’t work then.

Fly Of The Week

It takes some planning, you know, to break a Guinness World Record and you need to plan for the unexpected, as this story I came across this week amply illustrates.

A group called Sinners Domino Entertainment were trying to break their own record, set in 2013, of 537,938 fallen tiles, by setting up 596,229 mini dominoes in a pattern. Twenty-two people were deployed with tweezers to install the dominoes, no bigger than a finger nail, over two weeks in preparation for the tenth Domino Day at Nidda, near Frankfurt.

Alas, they had neglected to consider the impact of a clumsy fly. Said fly landed on one of the tiles, triggering all the dominoes to fall in a spectacular fashion, before the requisite number had been put in place. There wasn’t enough time, according to spokesperson Patrick Sinner for the damage to be repaired.

Still, look on the bright side.

They did manage to create four records; the longest domino chain reaction – it took 15 minutes for the damage caused by the fly’s heavy footedness  to unravel – the longest domino wall, the largest spiral and the largest domino cube.

Back to the drawing board, methinks.

Zoo Of The Week (2)

What is the point of a zoo?

Surely, we have evolved sufficiently enough not to take delight in gawping at mangy creatures incarcerated against their will? Of course, zoos do good work in protecting and preserving endangered species but surely this is better done in the creatures’ natural environment.

I was pondering these questions after reading a story this week about Mahmoud Sarhan’s visit to Cairo’s International Garden municipal park. His interest was piqued by a couple of zebras on display. Something didn’t quite look right. Zebras have rounded ears but these two had long floppy ears. Instead of clean stripes these animals had smudgy stripes and unusual smudges on their faces.

As is the way these days, Mahmoud posted a picture on social meejah and an almighty stushie has broken out with accusations that the zoo had painted a couple of donkeys to look like, at least from a distance, like zebras, an accusation the director of the benighted establishment, Mohamed Sultan, vigorously denied.

It wouldn’t be the first time this sort of sleight of hand has been deployed by a zoo.  In 2009 a zoo in Gaza tried the same trick while in 2012 another zoo in Gaza put stuffed animals on display because there was a shortage of the real things. Meanwhile in China a zoo in Henan province tried to pass off a Tibetan mastiff dog as a lion and another in Guangxi province was reduced to displaying blow-up plastic penguins.

Best to give them all a miss.

Feat Of The Week (2)

I was gratified to read this week that Bulgarian, Yane Petkov, has regained his Guinness World Record, swimming 3,380 metres in the Macedonian Lake Ohrid.

While for someone like me to whom any form of exercise is anathema, this seems a prodigious distance but in the natatorial world this is no great shakes. What made it special was that Yane’s hands and feet were bound and, to boot, he was enclosed in a sack.

It took him three hours, face-up and feet first, to complete the distance, although he had aimed to complete 3.5 kilometres.

Yane had held the record before, swimming 2,030 metres in 2013. But the record was only his for three months, the crown being snatched from him by Indian Gopal Kharvi, who completed 3.07 with his hands and feet bound. Kharvi swam head down and forward and didn’t get into a sack.

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Feat Of The Week

What do you do when you already hold the world record for setting the most Guinness World Records and have already caught the most knives in a minute (54) and the most grapes in your mouth (86) in 60 seconds?

Well, of course, if you are New Yorker, Ashrita Furman, you slice 26 water melons on your stomach in a minute using a Japanese traditional sword known as a Katana. As well as setting up another record – he currently holds over 200 of them – he didn’t suffer a scratch.

Perhaps he could get a job in a restaurant.

If you want to see him in action, click on the link.

I shall be following his further exploits with interest.

Sporting Event Of The Week (16)

I’ve been somewhat distracted recently but at least the 23rd World Wife-Carrying Championship, held as usual in the small Finnish town of Sonkajarvi in early July didn’t totally escape my notice.

This year’s winners were a Lithuanian couple, Vytautas and Neringa Kirkliauskas, who triumphed over 52 other pairs of competitors, including six times world champion, Taisto Miettinen, to claim the crown. There are qualifying events held as far afield as the United States, the UK, Sweden and Estonia. A Finnish couple finished second and a Swedish pair third. There are also prizes for the funniest attempt, the best dressed and the strongest carrier.

The race, which takes around an hour to complete, is a heady mix of running, wading through a slippery pool and completing an obstacle course. Legend has it that it owes its origin to an initiation ritual established by Ronkainen the Robber in the 19th century. Anyone who wanted to be in his gang was made to carry sacks of grain or live pigs over a similar course. Others ascribe its origin to the earlier practice of wife-stealing.

Be that as it may, at least this year’s winners are a happily married couple.

Long may it continue!