News of the Weird

Stories from Around the World that Didn't Make the Headlines
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The Independent Culture
Slough: Derek West, vicar of Upton cum Chalvey in Oxfordshire, also worships Slough Town football club and fine waistcoats. He combines all three in the pulpit on a Sunday. When the previous day's result has been particularly good, he sports his finest waistcoat, a fetching number with multi-coloured hot-air balloons.

Modest wins: gold, orange and yellow waistcoats. Narrow victories: flying ducks. Draws: normal dress. Defeats: anything from grey to black. Mercifully, a funeral has yet to follow a spectacular win.

"I'm an avid supporter of Slough Town," confesses the Rev West, whose team has seen hard times. "People have said that St Peter will let me into the gates of Heaven, because I have already had my taste of hell."

Anaheim: Disneyland has long forbidden employees to wear their costumes home. Queues to return them, however, have led to unpaid overtime. Despite executive fears that "if you have a Disney-clad employee going to a 7- Eleven for a six-pack of beer, it deflates the value of the Disney image", some will be allowed to wear the outfits home and even make brief stops for petrol and schoolchildren. It could be a kidnappers' charter. Never fall for any Donald, Mickey and Goofy: these will continue to be kept under wraps.

San Jose: Frank Sinatra said that his voice owed much to observing trumpeter Tommy Dorsey's breathing technique. Thank goodness he did not take the Costa Rican saxophonist Geovanny Escalante as his model. He has just broken Kenny G's record for blowing a single note into a saxophone: one hour, 30 minutes and 45 seconds, evidence of which will regale editors of the Guinness Book of Records.

Nanuet: Bridget Griffen, who had planned her wedding for a year, hired a five-piece orchestra run by a singing stockbroker, Paul Rich. The happy couple wanted to be sent off with a blast of thoroughbred r' n' b and disco. Imagine her chagrin when they were greeted by one Tony Avena, who has a penchant for Bacharach and Sinatra.

Judge Thomas Dickerson awarded her half of the $3,275 paid Rich plus $500 for her suffering - and dismissed the defence's assertion that Avena would do "anything you want, from the macerea to the chicken dance."

Ethiopia: Nobody who has woken in the armchair at 3am in front of a flickering television set can feel as bad as two drunks at Hoennessa. To sleep off their evening's pleasure, they settled down on mattresses at the public rubbish-tip, but their comfort was short-lived: they were eaten by hyenas.

Moscow: Damien Hirst's work will not suffer the fate of an exhibition at Sergei Taraborov's gallery, where Yury Shabelnikov's life-size cake depicted the late Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Guests and critics scoffed - the lot. Outraged Communist MPs complained that the eating, if not the (formaldehyde-free) cake, violated laws against national figures. Jane Asher, beware.

San Jose: Kim Taylor reported to the police that a mattress was in the middle of busy Highway 85 - to be told that it was the California Highway Patrol's job to clear it away. When Ms Taylor explained that she had no change, and asked if this warning relayed to the patrol - "it's 85! Highway 85!" - she was merely asked: "is there a reason why you are so upset?" "Well, you took for ever to answer and people are dodging this mattress..."

Within half an hour a van, swerving to avoid the mattress, rolled over and killed a 75-year-old passenger. Police chief Bill Lansdowne said: "public safety is our primary goal."

Huntington Beach: Victoria Shroyer, an LA police officer, was about to write a ticket when a man leapt from another motor-car: "My wife's about to have a baby!" Ms Shroyer put down her notebook, and delivered a 7-lb baby on to the pavement; after which she returned to book the other, errant driver. Now in a better mood, she overlooked the 17-year-old's speed and simply did him for lacking a licence.

Hartlepool: Irritated at finding that his wheelie-bin had been stolen, the owner of a wine-bar was further infuriated when he found that an intransigent official had slapped a fine on the wheelie-bin for occupying a space in the municipal car-park.