A student union is seeking to ban students from dressing up as Tories at fancy dress parties to avoid causing offence. Kent University's student union has drafted a set of guidelines which say that costumes should not be "offensive, discriminatory and prejudice (they mean prejudicial, but hey! they're students with better things to do than worrying about grammar. Ed) to an individual's race, gender, disability or sexual orientation or based on stereotypes". This is to ensure that the university is a "safe space" for undergraduates,where no one is embarrassed or upset by seeing a fellow student's costume.
up as "Tories" and "chavs" are given as examples of costumes to
avoid, as these would breach the "class and political
stereotypes" section of the guidance. Among the dozens of
deems "offensive" are cowboys, Native Americans, priests and nuns, and anyone who wears a Mexican sombrero.
Students have also been warned against anything that has a sensitive historical or religious connotations. It gives the Crusades, Isil bombers, Israeli soldiers and the Prophet Mohammed as examples of costumes to avoid.
Thompson, the Kent Union president, said: "We would ask students
to be mindful of their choices and whether any offence could be
Turner Education editor, The Daily Telegraph
October 15th, 2018
Poppycock at Cambridge
Cambridge University's Student Union (CUSU) has voted down a motion to promote Remembrance Sunday amid fears about the "glorification" of conflict.
The motion called on the university, its colleges and faculties to be "more proactive in promoting the cause of Remembrance". This could include asking for a minute's silence on Remembrance Sunday and sending email reminders to students about the availability of poppies, the motion said. It encouraged the commemoration of British veterans, adding that CUSU should "ensure that remembrance day becomes a well-established and'well-marked event across the university".
But the motion, which was put forward by two members of the university's Conservative Association (CUCA), was rejected by students during their first meeting of the new academic year.
The move came after an amendment was voted through, which noted the efforts of various organisations to "reshape remembrance away from glorification and valorisation of war" and to campaign "against militarism". The amendment, proposed by student activist Stella Swain, struck out references to "British war veterans", "Remembrance Day" and "poppies".
Instead, Ms Swain argued that "all lives lost and affected by war" should be commemorated and that students should be encouraged to engage in "productive criticism" of war. She said she wanted to "reflect the status of the university as an international institution" and argued that it was "vital that we recognise all different backgrounds and don't just focus on British war veterans".
James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said the motionbrings "great shame" to Cambridge and shows "disdain" for the Armed Forces. He told The Daily Telegraph: "It is something I find very difficult to comprehend - that [students] can't be grateful and respectful of previous generations and their sacrifices. It is easy to judge from a distance when you have the luxury of a safe and comfortable democracy. We have an enormous debt to [our] Armed Forces in this country."
Cambridge University's Conservative Association said it was "shocking" that the motion was not passed, as they accused students of seeking to "erase" the memory of veterans.
Timur Coskun, the association's chairman, said that while Remembrance Sunday events are held across the university "many students unfortunately do not wear poppies".
A CUSU spokesman said: "Discussions were not about erasing the past, but broadening the focus of remembrance to include those who suffered and died wherever they were in the world." He added that presidents of both the undergraduate and postgraduate student unions will lay wreaths at a Remembrance Sunday event.
Turner Education editor, The Daily Telegraph
October 12th, 2018
The line to heaven by Christ was made
With heavenly truth the Rails are laid.
From Earth to Heaven the Line extends
To Life Eternal where it ends.
Repentance is the Station then
Where passengers are taken in
No Fee for them is there to pay
For Jesus is himself the way.
God’s Word is the first Engineer
It points the way to Heaven so clear
Through tunnels dark and dreary here
It does the way to Glory steer.
God’s Love the Fire, his Truth the Steam,
Which drives the Engine and the Train.
All you who would to Glory ride
Must come to Christ, in him abide,
In First, and Second, and Third Class
Repentance, Faith and Holiness,
You must the way to Glory gain
Or you with Christ will not remain.
Come then poor sinners, now’s the time
At any Station on the Line,
If you repent and turn from sin,
The train will stop and take you in.
Midwives should not say "good girl" to women in labour because it is disrespectful, according to new advice. Other words to avoid include describing a baby as big or referring to a woman in labour as "she" in the guide published in the BMJ.
In the advice, the authors admitted some might think such caution was “political correctness gone mad" but said changes were needed to "instil a culture of respect" for mothers-to-be. Instead of using the term "good girl," medics are asked to say, "you're doing really well" to encourage a women during labour. They are also asked to avoid the use of the phrase "big baby" in case it makes women anxious, and not to talk about "fetal distress". Instead larger infants should be described as "healthy", while fetal distress should be described as "changes in the baby's heart rate pattern," they state.
The advice says midwives and obstetricians should never address the pregnant woman as a "she" when they are discussing the situation at hand. Instead, they should always refer to her by her first name, the guide says.
Prof Andrew Weeks, from the International Maternal Health Care at the University of Liverpool; Natalie Mobbs, a medical student at Liverpool; and Catherine Williams, a committee member of National Maternity Voices, drew up the new tips.
Writing in the BMJ, they said: "Language matters as a way of respecting women's views and ensuring that they are empowered to make decisions. The use of insensitive language can be indicative of an underlying malaise, which reveals underlying attitudes and prejudices.
"It is essential that we achieve respectful practice, ensuring that women have complete understanding and control of their own care. Although eyes may roll at the thought of 'political correctness gone mad' the change is well founded," they said.
If a medical procedure doesn't work, midwives should describe the attempt as "unsuccessful", rather than "'failed". And it also says plain English should be used instead of medical jargon.
The guide also asks midwives to avoid discouraging or insensitive language, such as the phrase "terminate pregnancy". Instead, women should be told it is a "compassionate induction". "Rupture the membranes" should be replaced with "release the waters".
Laura Donnelly, Health Editor, The Daily Telegraph
A vicar who claimed over-zealous traffic wardens were preying on her Sunday congregations has caught them parking on double yellow lines.
The Rev Bev Mason, the vicar at Bingley All Saints, Yorkshire, photographed the van as the ‘merciless; wardens patrolled on Sunday. She said: 'They were going round giving more of our churchgoers tickets at the time. I called out to the two men: ‘Is this your van?’ and they were mortified.
vicar, who has picked up four tickets herself, added that
members of her congregation were ‘so kind and live holy lives
yet they feel they are being penalised for it.’
Keystone cop needs lift from suspect's mother
A policeman who accidentally locked his car keys in the boot of his panda car had to ask a suspect's mother for a lift to the police station.
The officer for Nottinghamshire Police had been sent to the home of a "well-known crook", who lived with his mother, to arrest him for assault. After handcuffing the suspect and leading him out to his car, the officer locked his car keys in the boot.
He had to "sheepishly" knock on the door to ask the suspect's mother if she had a car and if she could give him and her son a lift to the police station. The mother agreed and ushered her son and the policeman - still handcuffed together- into the back of her two-door Vauxhall Corsa. She drove them three miles to the local police station.
The incident last month was described in the Police Federation magazine. The report stated: "The officer, having seized vital evidence from the suspect's bedroom, carefully placed it in the boot of the police car and then promptly locked the car keys inside."
A police source said:
"The officer was the laughing stock of the nick and he'll never
live this one down."
Cock-a-doodle-ooh... a man who suffered for his art
A South African performance artist who tied a live rooster to his penis during an impromptu open-air show near the Eiffel Tower was found guilty yesterday of "sexual exhibitionism". However, the Paris court did not imppse a sentence.
Last September, Steven Cohen danced on the French capital's Trocadero Plaza dressed in a corset, high heels, long red gloves and an elaborate leathered headdress with a rooster attached to his penis by a ribbon.
Under the amused and perplexed gaze of tourists, including a group of nuns, the spectacle lasted only a few moments before police arrested Mr Cohen, dragging him across the plaza, rooster attached.
Mr Cohen said the authorities
had "no understanding of what art is, what performance is".
in that esteemed
organ, the Daily
Telegraph on the
same day, May
The guidance also suggest that officers should wear their
helmets at all times in public – even when rushing out of a
patrol car to chase down a suspect.
Their pronouncements on the acceptable curvature of cucumbers and bananas have already proved unpalatable. Now the infamous bureaucrats of Brussels have made another baffling food judgment, ruling that a swede can be called a turnip when it’s in a Cornish pasty.
They have decreed that only minced or diced beef, sliced potato, onion and swede can fill the pasties. However, the Cornish are unique in referring to Swedes as turnips, despite the distinct differences. Because of this linguistic quirk, the regulations have been amended to allow either term to go on the label, even though only swede is allowed. It means that Cornish pasties can be advertised as containing turnip, but will break the rules if they actually contain it.
A motorist rang her council to ask if its car park was haunted, because her vehicle seemed to have moved to another space while she was away shopping. Other bizarre inquiries to town halls included a man who asked if he could roll up a zebra crossing, and another who wanted to know if he could register the death of someone who was still alive.
A grandfather who bought a birthday card for a two year-old was stunned to find the label: ‘not suitable for children under three years old.’
Various press reports,
Foreign Words that Leave you Speechless
Speakers of the world’s richest language are not used to being lost for words. But it seems there are some things that English speakers cannot describe — despite having more than 250,000 terms at their disposal.
A new book has listed foreign words for which there is no direct counterpart in English.
If asked to describe a woman who stands on her doorstep screaming obscenities at her children, an English speaker would struggle to find a precise phrase. Any Danish person would tell you that such a woman is called a “kaeffing”.
The experience of hesitating when you are introducing someone whose name you can’t remember may be familiar — but you would be hard pressed to sum it up in a single word. A Scot would tell you that to hesitate in such a way is simply to “tartle”.
Adam Jacot de
Boinod culled words from 300
languages for his book I Never Knew
There WasA Word For it which is
released by Penguin Books.
He discovered that a man who hangs around cafés and eats leftovers is called a “bufetak” in the Czech Republic,while someone who is only attractive from a distance is “Layogenic” in Tagalog - the language of the Philippines.
A young man who
tries to seduce his aunt is a “tantenverfuhrer”
in German, while a person who is
aroused by garlic is a “physiggoomai”
in ancient Greek.
Mr De Boinod, 50, came up with the idea for the book while working as a researcher on the BBC quiz show QI. It also includes a list of English words with very different meanings in other countries. “Honk” means eyebrow in Armenian, while a “snog” in Denmark is a grass snake.
Daily Telegraph, August 2010
Anglican vicar gives sacrament to pet
An Anglican church in Canada has become the focus of controversy after a vicar gave Holy Communion to a pet dog. The priest gave Communion bread, considered by Anglicans to represent the body of Jesus Christ, to an Alsatian-cross called Trapper.
St Peter’s Anglican Church in Toronto has been deluged with complaints by Christians throughout the country. Donald Keith, the dog’s owner, said he took his pet to the church because he had heard animals were welcome.
Because he was a newcomer, the vicar, the Rev Marguerite Rea, invited him in person to receive communion. “The minister said, ‘Come up and take communion’, and Trapper came up with me and the minister gave him communion as well,” said Mr Keith.
Mr Keith said he thought it was a “nice way to welcome me into the church. There was an old lady in the front just beaming when she saw this. Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of the people in the church love Trapper and the kids play with him.”
He claimed that one member of the congregation was unhappy and complained to the archbishop. The dog has since been banned from receiving Holy Communion. Mrs Rea has since apologised to the area bishop, Patrick Yu, who was sent to investigate the complaint. He said the vicar was “quite embarrassed” by her gaffe.
The bishop said it was “not the policy of the Anglican Church to give communion to animals”. He added: “Unless there is any further evidence that she is giving communion to animals, the matter is closed. We are, after all, in the forgiveness and repair business.”
A marvellous story (July 27th, 2010) again taken from the ever-vigilant Daily Telegraph. As so often, we note the absurdities perpetrated by the reporter. To begin with, there is the suggestion that somehow Anglicans are uniquely strange in believing in the divine presence in the eucharist. Then there is the odd concept of having to ban the animal from future sacramental participation (no doubt someone will tell Trapper!). Finally, the bishop speaks of the church as being in the ‘forgiveness and repair’ business. He clearly thinks the vicar needs forgiving – but it is not exactly obvious who needs repairingPerhaps they do things differently in Canada, or are they all barking mad?
Tweetness and light
A Church minister is to conduct the first communion service on Twitter, the social networking site.
In a modern spin on Christianity’s most sacred rite, worshippers are invited to break bread and drink wine or juice in front of their computers as they follow the service online.
Churches usually require a priest to take the Eucharist, but the Rev Tim Ross, a Methodist minister, will send out a prayer in a series of tweets - messages of up to 140 characters — to users of the site. Those following the service will read out each tweet before typing Amen as a reply.
The move is likely to upset traditionalists but Mr Ross said it was an important step in uniting Christians around the world and reaching those who might not normally go to church. Hundreds of people have registered to follow the service and Mr Ross hopes that will grow to thousands by the lime he sends out the tweets next month.
“Twitter offers unique possibilities for the Church,” he said. “It’s a community that’s as real and tangible as any local neighbourhood and we should be looking to minister to it.”
Karen Burke, a media officer for the Methodist Church, said it supported “the exploration of spirituality on the internet”. She said: “While communion normally reflects the celebration of God’s love in a body of people gathered in one place, there is a strong tradition of celebrating that love in more transient and informal communities’
The Daily Telegraph, from which this report (and the headline above) are lifted, commented on the idea in an editorial. The development, it said 'suggests a whole host of holy new possibilities for Twitter. There seems no reason why other sacraments might not also be administered by tweet: "Do u @natalie take @harry..." for instance. Certain adjustments in the liturgy will be called for, of course: "Please turn to No 386 in your collection of ringtones..." But the 140-character limit should inspire a blessed brevity in sermons: "Dearly beloved, we are not gathered here today..."
Hello, hello, hello!
entertaining clippings from the
have been handed an official leaflet
showing them how to tuck their
shirts in properly and tie their
Sussex Police introduced a new ‘practical, fit-for-purpose’ uniform in May, and issued 3,200 officers with advice on ‘how to wear’ it.
The guidance contrasts a ‘prim and proper’ policeman and a ‘shabby’ colleague, with his shirt hanging out and his shoelaces undone.
Two Middle Eastern-style ‘Nile pan’ lavatories, little more than holes in the ground, have been installed in a Rochdale shopping centre,
apparently in an attempt to accommodate shoppers from different cultural backgrounds.
M.P. Philip Davies said: ‘It’s absolutely ludicrous – Thomas Crapper would be turning in his grave.’
A new trawl through the birth records has revealed that 20 babies born since the Second World War have been named Adolf.
The research also revealed some unusual trends, with ten babies in Lancashire in the 19th century named Fish Fish, and one registered with the full name Fish Fish Fish.
The Oldie, July 2010
Would You Believe
Four oddities noted in recent weeks in the press
An Australian publishing company has pulped and reprinted 7,000 copies of a pasta cookbook that advised people to use ‘salt and freshly ground black people’ in a tagliatelle dish .
A dead man has been elected mayor of Tracy City, Tennessee. Carl Geary, 55, won three times as many votes as his rival, Barbara Brock, even though he had suffered a fatal heart attack at the start of the campaign. ‘I knew he was deceased but we wanted someone other than her,’ said one local. ‘If he were to run again next week, I’d vote for him again.’
Police have introduced the first speed trap on the Isles of Scilly… on an island with only six miles of road. Officers on St Mary’s, population 1,600, have taken delivery of a radar gun. The island has a 60 mph speed limit, but police admitted that its roads contain so many bens that t is virtually impossible to drive that fast. Since the radar gun has been introduced, the fastest vehicle recorded had been a moped travelling at 34 mph.
And finally, a letter in the ‘Daily Telegraph’:
The Church of Ireland’s 2004 Book of Common Prayer instructs those presenting themselves for confirmation not to covet their neighbours’ houses – and not to cover their neighbours’ wives.
May 24th, 2010
What... the Devil?
‘The devil is lurking in the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican’s chief exorcist claimed yesterday.’
Thus wrote the Daily Telegraph’s Nick Squires recently. The aforesaid exorcist, Father Gabrielle Amorth, claimed that the Christmas Eve assault on the Pope, together with the sex abuse scandals engulfing the Church worldwide,’ were proof that the Anti-Christ was waging a war against the holy See’.
The evil influence of Satan, he believes, was evident in the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, with ‘cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon,’ he said. Although some Catholics mistrust the concept of exorcism, the Pope apparently has no such doubts.
The 85-year-old Fr Amorth, who has been in post for 25 years, claims to have performed 70,000 exorcisms. Possessed people, he says, scream, utter blasphemies and spit out ‘pieces of iron as long as a finger, but also rose petals.’
Incense is making us ill,
The Daily Telegraph again, and in the same issue. A reporter reports that ‘claims that incense burned in church services is making members of the congregation ill are being investigated by environmental health officials.’
A 73-year-old man has said he was forced to stay away from the church he had attended for 19 years because of illness from inhaling the sweet-smelling smoke. Apparently several other parishioners at St Paul’s in Chichester had to leave the church feeling dizzy and unwell. As a result the local Council have inspected the church and are awaiting a Health and Safety Executive report.
The aggrieved gentleman holds forth: ‘I emailed the reverend (!) but was told the church council had taken advice and had been informed there was no health risk. They are ignoring the fact that there is a lot of evidence that these particles are so deadly and dangerous. The thought that people are breathing in particles which could make them ill makes me so mad.’
The Telegraph reporter tells us that ‘research scientists have found that the air in some churches where incense was burned was more toxic than the air along roads with high levels of traffic.’ As a result of the furore the incumbent will now inform parishioners when incense is due to be burned.
March 13th, 2010
Common Sense R.I.P.
An Obituary printed in the
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm;lLife isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a
burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers: I Know My Rights; I Want It Now; Someone Else Is To Blame and I'm A Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
(February 13th, 2010)
Priest called in
to banish pitch demons
Marine bad luck blamed on evil spirits
Food for thought in the banner headline on the front page of our local newspaper recently. Marine F.C., our local team, have been suffering a run of unnaturally bad luck recently, it transpires. They have lost their last five games, been knocked out of two competitions and had their only recent potential victory ‘scrubbed out due to a freak floodlight failure.’
‘Coupled with an horrific injury list that has seen THREE players sidelined with broken legs – one of whom faces the agony of his leg being re-broken by doctors,’ the club’s manager, the paper reports, ‘is convinced all is not right at the Arriva’ (stadium) And he has called in a Roman Catholic priest from down the road in Roby to ‘banish demons from the team’s stadium’ (and possibly to banish the Powers of Darkness and keep the lights working?)
The priest duly prayed over the pitch, before ‘sprinkling holy water in the goalmouths and across the playing surface.’
Only time will tell how effectively the prayed-for divine intervention will prove, and we of course wish Marine every blessing. The report lists the next home fixture as being against Kendal Town. This writer hopes that they will not have heard about this turn of events, for fear that they might bring along their bishop to pray for their success. Heaven alone knows what would happen….
Meanwhile, should Marine do really well, it might be worth asking the Vicar to sprinkle the church overdraft or pray over this writer's church lottery numbers.
A Sting in the Tale
An elderly Polish beekeeper who passed out after being stung woke up inside a coffin. He had been pronounced dead from a heart attack, covered in a white sheet, collected by undertakers and taken to a funeral parlour.
It was then that he woke and shouted for help. ‘He was shouting and banging on the coffin – he made enough noise to raise the dead so we couldn’t miss him,’ said the undertaker. The man was taken to hospital and released after a few days. ‘The undertaker saved my life,’ he said. ‘The first thing I did when I came out of hospital was to take him a pot of honey.’
This column enjoys making excruciating headlines for its borrowings, but cannot hope to better the one provided by The Daily Telegraph, where this snippet occurred on January 26th.
Their headline: ‘O sting, where is thy death?’
Just when it seemed that ecumenical relations were thawing, an Anglican bishop has launched a vicious attack on the morals of Roman Catholic monks. Obviously, this statement needs qualifying…
According to a report in The Times, the Bishop of Aberdeen and the Orkneys in the Scottish Episcopal Church (that’s the Anglican church in the frozen north) has accused the Devon-based Roman Catholic monks of Buckfast Abbey of betraying Christian values.
of moral double-take is there that
these monks can be so closely
associated with that product and
knowingly aware of the social
damage as well as the medical
damage it is doing to the kids who
take it in such vast volumes? The
monks at Buckfast are in a
Benedictine monastery founded upon
the rule of St Benedict, who urged
his monks to live a simple life… I
would have thought he would have
been very, very unhappy with what
his monks are doing nowadays.’
The reason for this sense of outrage? The drink known colloquially as Buckie has featured in 5,000 crimes in the last three years reported by Stratchclyde Police, including 114 uses of the bottle as a weapon. Each bottle contains more than 11 units of alcohol, is 15% proof and contains more caffeine than eight cans of cola. The monks sell £37 million worth of the drink a year. Broken Buckfast bottles make up 54% of dangerous litter in Scottish housing estates. There are more than 200 Facebook groups dedicated to it. Tellingly, it is known colloquially as Wreck the Hoose Juice, Commotion Lotion, Bottle of Fight the World, Bottle of Beat the Wife, Liquid Speed and Scranjuice.
Not surprisingly, the monks of Buckfast Abbey turned down a request by the BBC to discuss their Special Brew, while a spokesman for the company that distributes the drink absolves them of blame. ‘Why should they accept moral responsibility? They’re not up there pouring their Buckfast down somebody’s throat. They produce a good product. I drink it. Now if I thought there was something wrong with it, would I drink it…?’ The company have threatened to sue public figures who criticise the drink.
Here in the temperate south (!) Buckie has possibly yet to take hold, and moderate bishops of the good old CofE have yet to pronounce anathema over it. And one can only wonder, now that taking communion in both kinds has restored wine to the sanctuaries of the United Benefice, what might happen if the good monks of Buckfast brought out a really full-bodied altar wine to liven up our Sunday mornings. It might at least slow down the decline in communicants…his writer seems to recall the original invitation to partake of the communion cup was pleasingly phrased, ‘Drink Ye All Of This’….
Telegraph has been livening up
the dark days with readers'
letters about mistranslations
and associated comic usages.
This selection featured on
January 5th, 2010
SIR - I am particularly fond of the section The Train in my old English-German conversational dictionary, which contains the following exchanges: "You are aware that I have occupied this seat since..." "My luggage was on it." "Guard, inform this gentleman that he must relinquish my seat." "Let us cross legs so as to sit more at ease."
SIR - I have an English-Gaelic phrase book bought in Oban that contains, among other joys, ‘Fetch me half a munchkin’ and the rather sinister ‘Shall I beat him?'
SIR - When I was serving in the British Embassy at Tripoli in the Seventies, a colleague found a translation of "traditional Libyan sayings" in a local bookshop. Our favourite was: "He whose trousers are made of esparto grass should not stand too close to the fire."
SIR - The idiosyncrasies of translation into English are not confined to phrase books. Travel brochures contain some priceless examples, including one for a prestigious hotel in Lisbon: "As our guests descend the grand staircase they will be impressed by our collection of suggestive pictures."
SIR - A pamphlet given to me on entry to a French campsite contained the following: "Campers are requested to speak slowly after midnight so as not to disturb the dreamers’
SIR - The most ridiculous phrase I have heard in any language comes from the website Living in Indonesia: "Kuku-kuku kaki kakak kakek-ku kaku-kaku." It means "My grandfather's older brother's toenails are stiff", and should not be attempted while eating cake.
Look Back with
A final selection of some of the entertaining reports in last year's papers
nuns were pulled over on a
road near Turin after they were
clocked travelling at more than
110mph in a Ford Fiesta. The driver,
Sister Tavoletta, 56, explained that
they were hurrying to see the Pope
after hearing that he had fractured
his wrist in a fall. ‘We were on our
way to make sure he was OK,’ she
said. ‘Hopefully Sister
Tavoletta will confess to her
bad driving next time she goes to
confession,’ said a police
spokesman. ‘ But in the meantime she
will have to pay the speeding fine.’
A confectionery firm came under fire for featuring fruity characters apparently engaging in sexual acts on its wrappers. Simon Simpkins of Pontefract said he was shocked by the ‘porno’ poses when he bought the sweets for his children. 'The lemon and lime are locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter,’ he told The Sun. ‘The lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this couple, has a particularly lurid expression on his face. I demanded to see the shop manager and, during a heated exchange, my wife became distressed and had to sit in the car park.’
Police hunting Ireland’s most dangerous driver finally uncovered his identity. Computer records showed that Prawo Jazdy had clocked up no fewer than 50 offences, but each time his licence was registered to a different address. Finally, an officer worked out that ‘Prawo Jazdy’ is Polish for ‘driving licence’. Officers had been writing it down as the driver’s name.
Week: January 2nd, 2010
Bedford: Parents were banned from attending their children's sports day after organisers said it would make it impossible to guard against paedophiles. Pupils from four primary schools competed at the East Bedfordshire School Sports Day without spectators. "If we let parents in, they would have been free to roam the grounds," said a spokesman. "All unsupervised adults must be kept away from children."
London: Schools in Waltham Forest and Newham were told to close on three Muslim, Hindu and Sikh holy days this autumn, regardless of the religious mix of their pupils. In Waltham Forest, Hindus form 2% of the population and Sikhs just 0.6%. There are more Jewish people than Sikhs in the borough yet schools were not told to close for any Jewish festivals.
London: Swimmers at an outdoor pool in East London were told they could not go for a dip if the weather was too wet. Customers at the London Fields Lido in Hackney (right) were made to wait outside when it rained, because staff said the shower could cloud the water, making it hard for lifeguards to see into the pool. Hackney council confirmed that this was part of its health-and-safety policy.
The Government spent £24,765 removing one noun from the name of a Whitehall department. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was rebranded as Communities and Local Government (CLG), requiring a new logo and headed paper. A minister told MPs that the rebranding was necessary to "emphasise the mission of the department".
Teachers were given a training manual on how to use a full stop. The manual, part of the National Literacy Strategy, contained advice such as: "Verbs are very important. They are the words that tell you what is happening in a sentence.’
A report that took two years to compile and cost taxpayers £500,000 concluded that rail passengers were liable to experience "negative” feelings if their train was late and no one told them why.
Farmers were advised to wear earmuffs when feeding pigs, to protect themselves from "dangerously" loud squeals. The Health and Safety Executive said the noise of hungry pigs could be as damaging to hearing as that of a chainsaw or power drill, and suggested using mechanical feeders to avoid exposure altogether.
acknowledgement to The
Week: December 30th, 2009
The Spirit of Britain
Thanks to that excellent publication, ‘The Week’, we are happy to present the first instalment of their annual cull of absurd examples of political correctness, bureaucratic inanities and fatuous warnings emanating from official quarters during the year now ending.
Edinburgh: The Scottish parliament's website has been translated into Scots dialect, as part of an £800,000 overhaul to make the site available in 14 "languages". "Walcome tae the Scottish pairlament wabsite," reads the introduction. "The Scottish pairlament is here for tae represent aw Scotlan's folk." Scholars disagree on whether Scots dialect - as opposed to Gaelic - is a language at all, but the Scottish Executive says the translation is necessary to prevent discrimination.
Southport: When Rita Longbottom, a Southport pensioner with dementia, locked herself out of her care-home flat, a live-in manager refused to use a master key to let her in -because her shift had ended, and she did not wish to violate the new EU working-time directive, which calls for an 11-hour break between shifts. Instead, a neighbour had to alert a call centre in Bradford, which sent a locksmith from Bolton.
Derby: Fly-fishermen were banned from casting their flies at a Derbyshire reservoir, lest they injure passers-by. Every year, thousands of anglers fish at the Foremark Reservoir, which is run by the local water board. No one has been snared in its 40-year history.
Birmingham: Birmingham City Council announced that all apostrophes were to be banished from street signs. Councillor Martin Mullaney said it was important to have a consistent policy, and that there was no longer any need for a possessive apostrophe in most place names, "since the
monarchy no longer owns Kings Heath or Kings Norton.
Oxford: The ladders that for 400 years had allowed students to reach the top shelves at the Bodleian Library in Oxford (right) were removed because of safety fears. But the library said the books would have to remain in their "historic location", out of reach, leaving students to travel as far as the British Library in London to find other copies.
Preston: A GPs' surgery in Preston, Lancashire, was docked £375 because it hadn't received any complaints. Under the current NHS system, surgeries are rewarded for hitting targets, one of which is to show how they deal with complaints. Since the Preston surgery didn't get any, it lost out. A spokesman for the local NHS trust said it had to follow guidelines.
Sheffield: A new primary school in Sheffield decided to omit the word "school" from its title because it had "negative connotations". Watercliffe Meadow calls itself a "place for learning". Meanwhile, 13 secondary schools in Barnsley were also re-branded - as "advanced learning centres".
A selection of
guaranteed genuine notices from
In a Bangkok temple:
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN, EVEN A FOREIGNER, IF DRESSED AS A MAN.
Cocktail lounge, Norway:
LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR.
Doctor's office, Rome:
SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.
Dry cleaners, Bangkok:
DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.
In a Nairobi restaurant:
CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.
On the main road to Mombasa, leaving Nairobi:
TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER,THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.
On a poster at Kencom:
ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT READ? IF SO WE CAN HELP.
In a City restaurant:
OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND WEEKENDS.
In a cemetery:
PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES.
Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations:
GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMOKE OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIOURS IN BED.
On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
In a Tokyo bar:
SPECIAL COCKTAILS FOR THE LADIES WITH NUTS.
THE FLATTENING OF UNDERWEAR WITH PLEASURE IS THE JOB OF THE CHAMBERMAID
YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID.
In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery:
YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY EXCEPT THURSDAY.
A sign posted in Germany's Black Forest:
IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE.
BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPRIETY OF ENTERTAINING GUESTS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE BEDROOM, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE LOBBY BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE.
Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
A laundry in Rome:
LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME.
Supplied by a retired
clerical gentleman who would probably prefer to remain
anonymous: December 20th, 2009
Do They Think
We're That Stupid?
After the previous item,
it's a relief to get back to
some genuine examples of
overkill on commerical
On the bottom of a Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert… ‘Do not turn upside down’
On Sainsbury’s peanuts… ‘Warning: contains nuts’
On Boot’s Children’s Cough Medicine… ‘Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication’
On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding… ‘Product will be hot after heating’
On a Sears hairdryer… ‘Do not use while sleeping’
On a bag of Fritos… ‘You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside’
On some Findus frozen dinners… ‘Serving suggestion: Defrost’
On packaging for a Rowenta iron… ‘Do not iron clothes on body’
On Nytol Sleep Aid… ‘Warning: may cause drowsiness’
On Christmas lights… ‘For indoor or outdoor use only’
On a child’s Superman costume… ‘Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly’
(With thanks to Susan Gothard, St Peter’s, Formby magazine)
After so many ludicrous
examples of the excesses of the 'nanny state',
over-protective bureaucracy and the zealous enforcement of
health and safety legislation, it is only right to reproduce
an article from the Daily Telegraph of November 27th,
2009, in which Christopher Hope, the paper's Whitehall
Editor, puts a reassuring and sensible perspective on the
issue. This is what he wrote:
Parents are not breaking data protection rules if they take photographs of children taking part in school nativity plays, the information watchdog has said. Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, also said he wanted to scotch other "myths" about the Data Protection Act.
The commissioner said the problem was that some organisations commonly used the 1998 Act like health and safety legislation, to stop people behaving normally. "Some people still don't seem to get it and a lot of people need help," he said. "Data protection is becoming a term of abuse like health and safety. It has been very difficult to dispel the myth - and we want to demystify data protection."
Typical examples included the repeated fiction, he said, that it broke data protection laws to take private photographs of children at school sport days or nativity plays. In fact, parents, friends and family members can take photos or video of their children and friends who are taking part in school activities. The legislation would apply for photos taken for official use by schools and colleges.
Data protection rules also should not stop clergymen from praying for sick parishioners by name in church, while it was wrong for organisations to use "data protection" as a reason not to disclose a customer's details to a third party, such as a friend or family member. Instead as long as the organisation was satisfied that the person asking for the information was authorised to access it, then the information could be handed over.
In another case it emerged this month that a postman had
refused to deliver a parcel which had to be signed for, when
it became apparent the recipient was a nine-day-old baby. An
adult could have signed for the package, said Mr Graham.
Unveiling a "myth-busting" guide to the legislation, he said:
"Security breaches, inaccurate records and instances of data
being held for too long are too common. This new guide will
help organisations comply with the law and demystify data
It'll be his
A Swedish family is demanding £27,000 compensation from a pastor who slurred his way through a funeral service while sipping from a glass of wine and making rude comments.
The clergyman is accused of being so wobbly at one point during the service for an 80-year-old woman that he almost fell to his knees.
He is alleged to have pulled himself back up "using the altar like it was a climbing frame for an ape".
When he regained his balance, he told the congregation: "Bit dodgy that - someone left a banana skin here." He is also accused of fondling a female mourner, kissing her hand and saying: "Do you fancy nipping back to the vestry for an aquavit?"
One angry relative told the Helsingsborg Handesblat newspaper: "He was so tanked up it was an embarrassment. It was an incoherent waffle for 30 minutes. He read out a poem to the old lady and nobody understood a word. “
At one point, the priest allegedly said: "The family wanted an open coffin but I'm worried about swine flu. If you sneeze on her you might have to wipe the smile off her face."
(Allan Hall, Daily Telegraph, October 5th, 2009)
The Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid
"They are now the most powerful lobbying force in the land. You can see the results of their campaigns on park benches, on street corners, on station platforms - and now their hectoring signage is sprouting on desolate beaches and once unspoilt stretches of moorland. They are more energetic than the RSPCA. They are more effective than the birdwatchers, the child-protectors and the petrolheads put together. Indeed, for manic dedication they are only rivalled by Fathers4Justice. Ladies and gentlemen, let's have a big hand for this year's winner of the prize for the Most Successful Special Interest Group. I give you - the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid.
It was some years ago that my daughter and I first became aware of their achievements. We were exploring the magical cliff-top castle of Tintagel and we came across a sign on the edge of the cliff. It was expensively hand-painted and about 1ft high. It said: "Edge of cliff'. As a statement of the plonkingly obvious, it could have been bettered only if there had been another sign with a vertical arrow saying "Sky". We laughed so much we almost fell off.
Since then, the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid has been going from strength to strength. It has adorned the back of peanut packets with signs saying "May contain nuts"; it has embossed every plastic coffee sipper-lid with the information that the contents may be hot; and now, according to a wonderful pamphlet issued by the Manifesto Club, its activities are reaching a climax. I could direct you to a lovely pebble beach in Sussex, where visitors are warned with a hideous bright yellow sign and a pictogram of a man falling over that there is an "uneven surface". Another pictogram, complete with another tumbling idiot, warns that the beach may have a "slippery surface". Cor! I can just about see the case for warning railway passengers that if they run on a marble station concourse, and that concourse is wet, then they may be at risk of slipping.But we are talking about a beach in Sussex. How dur-brained do you have to be to fail to grasp that pebble beaches are uneven and may be slippery? You might as well post a sign at the gates of the Vatican saying: "Caution: Pope at work". Or I could show you a park bench in London boasting an exclamation mark in a fluorescent yellow triangle and the warning, "May become wet". You don't say! A bench in London may become wet, the public is told. I wonder whether we are doing enough to alert people to this fact, that it is raining in London on average 6 per cent of the time. Perhaps we should have a giant sign at Heathrow saying: "Welcome to Britain - danger of moderate precipitation".