News of the Weird

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The Independent Culture

New York: A 95-year-old woman on the Upper East Side was called up by somebody who purported to be her nephew, Ken, whom she had seen the previous day. He now told her that he had been reluctant to explain that he had a problem: a very large penis, so much so that artificial insemination had been necessary for his wife to become pregnant. This was not the most pleasurable process by which to achieve such a state, and he now needed $2,000 so that a doctor could - by some unspecified means - alleviate the problem. A friend of his, Richard, would be in the city and could collect the money at 69th Street and Madison. The aged aunt agreed to help, took out the money and despatched her housekeeper to the rendezvous.

Thailand: Soroj Theekasathien was about to open a nightclub, The Good Samaritan, in Bangkok, when he announced on local radio that he had found pounds 100,000 in a taxi. It was claimed by a builder, Patpong Srisupak - a friend of the nightclub owner. Both have been jailed for the publicity scam.

Manchester: A gunman, masked in a pillowcase with eye-holes, went into a doctor's surgery in Moseley and said: "This is a bank robbery". The receptionist pointed out that it was no longer a branch of Barclays.

Connecticut: A 14-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree forgery in Westport after counterfeiting $20 bills on his computer and giving them to friends, who used them in the school cafeteria.

The Life to Come

California: Andrew Castro died when only one month old, in June 1989. Since then his parents have decorated his grave in Santa Clara Catholic Cemetery with 50 ornaments, one of them inscribed "Baby's First Christmas". All have been stolen. Said his father Peter: "I just get totally mad and sad and frustrated because you really can't do anything. It's heartbreaking". A spokesman for the cemetery said that children probably stole them.

Buckinghamshire: Richard Terry of Hazlemere killed himself at the grave of his wife in Four Ashes Road Cemetery, Cryers Hill. His son said at the inquest: "He had become depressed because the rabbits kept eating the flowers he was putting there, and he put fencing round the grave to prevent this. Then he got a phone call from the local parish council telling him to remove it."

Ukraine: A bus driver in Mykolaiv, who had not been paid for over a year, doused himself in petrol and lit a lethal match outside his boss's office in protest.

Washington: Carlton Edwards of Seattle had no regrets about shooting his wife, but was so remorseful when the bullet went through her and also killed their two-year-old daughter that he then killed himself.


Virginia: Patti Leigh Huffman, the warder at the Fluvanna Correction Center for Women, is taking a very hard line. She is resisting the state ban on the wearing of lipstick and mascara, and earrings by prisoners. "I just don't see this as a security issue," she said, and added, "my mother once said that no lady goes out of the house with no lipstick on or her earrings off."

California: An HIV-positive kidnapper, Michael Stratton, hanged himself in Carcoran State Prison. Prison officers waited a full 18 minutes before going into the cell to see whether he was dead.

Australia: Two grams of heroin were discovered behind a pop-up Santa Claus on a Christmas card sent to a prisoner at the Silverwater Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre in New South Wales. The card was inscribed: "I'll have a big one for you, buddy. Always your mate, Mick." Authorities cannot assume that the inmate knew the generous sender. Earlier this year, a syringe was found in a hollowed-out copy of Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch.

Singapore: A prison warder has been jailed for accepting a bribe to bring in a mobile telephone during the World Cup for Rajendran Kurusany, a bookie convicted of having fixed football matches.

Food and Drink

Ukraine: A few years ago, President Clinton praised the chocolate factory at Khgmelnytsky, which has now - in an apparent gesture of support - named a brand "Monica". It is said to be better than a Mars bar.

California: Six-year-old Michelle Fernando and her brother dialled 911 to report that they were home alone and hungry in Oxnard. Police found the fridge empty. The single father, an immigrant from the Philippines, was away on a 24-hour shift to earn money for food.

Romania: A total of 3,500 people called ambulances in Bucharest after stomach illnesses set in, the result of the annual feasting upon sarmales - spicy minced pork and pickled cabbage - washed down with prune alcohol and vodka.

Below the Belt

Australia: In the Parliament House in New South Wales, an Opposition frontbencher, Michael Photios, attacked government-funded publicity for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Labour's Jan Burnswood countered that this was a bit rich of Mr Photios, whose family firm was the major supplier of feather boas and sequins to the revellers, and held up a photograph of somebody in a bondage mask. Mr Photios then called it a "low gutter act" to drag his family into this, and insisted that Sydney would do better to promote its cultural heritage in tourism leaflets.

On the Couch

Connecticut: Dr Lawrence Weiner, staff psychiatrist at Connecticut Valley Hospital, needed 24 stitches after his girlfriend Roquel Husman smashed her way into his bedroom and ripped at his scrotum while her successor cowered in the bathroom.

Wiped Out

West Virginia: Joseph Traisi was sentenced to five days in jail in Charleston earlier in the year after he jumped from his judge's seat in the courtroom and bit a defendant's nose during a bail hearing last year. Probation has been revoked after he confronted and butted a court official, Ward Grose, who had testified against him. In the meantime, Traisi was kept in a women's jail for his own protection.

Fount of Wisdom

Norway: Kirsten Larsen, a Christian and mother of 10, named her latest daughter Geshner - Hebrew for "bridge" - after being told to do so in a dream, something which earned her two days in jail for falling foul of the country's strict naming laws. A case of EC harmonisation - no more Sharon and Traceys.

Down Under

Australia: In Carvill Avenue Mall at Surfer's Paradise, police officers ground a man's face into the pavement. Police Commissioner Jim O'Sullivan gave his "unqualified support" to them. Moreover, Police Union president Gary Wilkinson said that it is time for the Criminal Justice Commission "to find out if they want law and order kept or just a pussycat police service". The victim himself said: "I don't envy the police in their task at all. I take my hat off in that regard and that is why I didn't want to make a complaint about it, because their job is difficult enough as it is."

Australia: A survey in South Australia found that 55 per cent of young men think it all right "to put down, threaten or push around their partners" - male or female.