A copper-bottomed week of weirdness

Stories from around the world that failed to make the headlines.
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The Independent Culture
North Wales

Plans to build a car park for visitors to the Coed y Brenin Forest near Colgellau have been delayed by ants. A nest of more than half a million of the Formic rufa species was found by workers clearing the intended site. Now designs are being reassessed to find a way to proceed without harming the ants, which are the biggest to be found in Britain.

London

The first UK Spam Fan Club was launched on Thursday to provide a forum for lovers of the chopped pork and ham creation that has sold six billion tins since its invention in 1937. A website is planned through which Spam lovers will be able to purchase sweatshirts, keyrings, posters and other Spam-related merchandise. The United States already has a Spamericas Cup competition for cooking-with-spam recipes. Further information from: Lindsey Sexton, Glen House, 125 Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3RP.

Denmark

Ulla Isendam was fined 300 kroner for patting a policeman's bottom in the town of Hilleroed, 20 miles north of Copenhagen. Ms Isendam said that she is attracted to men in uniform and could not resist "his cute little bum". However, officer Henrik Basse was offended and took her to the police station where she was charged with indecent behaviour and injuring his integrity. "I still get turned on by men in uniforms so I guess I can't resist tapping more behinds in the future," she said.

Russia

Gennady Gorbachev, an electrician in the city of Novomoskovsk, was given a work of art in lieu of 300 roubles (about pounds 30) wages that he was due for part-time work at a children's centre last year. The official Russian news agency referred to the gypsum statue as "worn out" and "a tasteless artwork from the Soviet era" and Mr Gorbachev was later offered money for it. But he preferred to keep it because he likes it.

United States

According to research in California, more airline pilots are falling asleep at the joystick because of improved technology and an increased demand for flights. Pilots have little to do at cruising altitudes on transcontinental flights. Pilots are currently banned from napping or taking mid-flight walks, except to use the toilet.

Czech Republic

Eduard Kremlicka, chairman of the Czech Pensioners Party, has made good a pre-election promise. At the country's general election last week, he said, on national television, that he would eat a large May bug if his party did not secure the five per cent of votes needed to win seats in parliament. His party finished with only three per cent so, at a press conference on Monday, he carried out his promise. "The bug was crawling across the plate, so I bit its head off, and when the yellow jelly came out, I gobbled it and washed it down with Fernet (liqueur)," he said afterwards.

Football

Czech condom makers ERCO have sent 2,000 condoms to the World Cup, each tipped with a soccer ball and the flag of a participating nation. The company is also developing musical condoms which will play "Old MacDonald", "Love Me Tender" or "Jingle Bells".

Tennis

Two Dutch statisticians have analysed 481 matches played at Wimbledon to refute the myths frequently uttered by "expert" commentators. Their figures show that players are not likely to fluff a point immediately after serving a double fault, the player who serves first is not more likely to win the set, and new balls do not confer any extra advantage on the server.

Texas

Three people went on trial in San Antonio on Tuesday charged with stealing over $10,000 worth of used cooking grease. The defence attorney said the charges are based on false accusations by big companies trying to corner the market in used grease.

Australia

Jason Miller, 26, has pleaded guilty to a charge of causing a bogus newspaper advert to be published after he put a fake death notice for his grandfather in the paper as an excuse for taking time off work to look for another job.

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