News of the Weird: Stories from around the world that didn't make the headlines

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California: A mother in Pleasanton thought that she was taking a relaxed attitude towards adolescent matters when she hired a stripper for her daughter's 15th birthday party. She had not reckoned that the guests' hormonal surges would be likely to land the stripper in jail.

"If this was just stripping, I don't know if we'd have charged him," said the deputy district attorney, Deb-orah Striecher,. "But he went be-yond that."

Love and Marriage

New York: There was a crowd outside Barneys when Kathy Morgenstern went by with her mother, who dragged her to one of the windows: behind the glass was her boyfriend, Bill Webber, who held a sign: would Kathy marry him? Such is the regard in which the couple hold the window designer, Simon Doonan (he recently published a memoir), that Webber asked the store if he could do this. Unusual behaviour for a financial analyst - but that's love. They kissed through the glass, but Ms Morgenstern said: "It tastes a lot better in person."

New York: Neighbours watched helplessly at River Plaza apartments in Soundsview, the Bronx. Sandra Fergusson had been the girlfriend of Shaun Chavis for a year and seen him through the cancer to which he lost a leg. He had found out that the disease had not abated. It was all too much. He was going to jump from the balcony. She ran to prevent him, but he turned on her with a knife and slashed repeatedly. It took a battering- ram for police to get through the steel door, by which time Sandra was dead and Shaun was Bellevue-bound.

Singapore: Seventeen-year-old Ong Peng Peng thought that she was on to a good thing when she met Lau Siang Pin in the VOK KTV lounge, but ended up out of pocket. It was two in the morning and she agreed to go back to his place for some rumpy-pumpy. All was apparently fine, but next morning she feared pregnancy. To allay this, he promised to give her $500 but never did. So she went to the police and made a claim of rape - but to give false information brings a $1,000 fine.

Australia: A lone abalone fisherman, Doug Chesher of Port Lincoln, was killed by a shark. He was only 26, a year older than his close friend, Scott Nash, who was so distraught after the funeral that he went aboard a trawler, where his behaviour was thought odd. Despite the cold, he strode the deck bare-chested, then dunked his head in a vat of brine. In due course, his trousers were found, but his body has not been recovered from the ocean.

Wyoming: The children of Cheryl and John Trover, of the remote mining town Gillette, were startled when an intruder in a ski-mask tied them to their beds with rope. Little did they know that it was their mother, a maths teacher, who then went to her bedroom where she slit her husband's throat, stabbed his heart with his own hunting-knife and shot him twice - before leaving the house, burning the clothes and running naked with cries about her narrow escape. It was all a plot. She was having an affair with her principal, John Riley, who lived opposite (and knew none of this), and feared that her liaison meant that she would not keep the children in a divorce case. Suspicion grew, it all became too much, and 48 hours later she hanged herself in a friend's lavatory.

Tidings of Joy

West Virginia: Seventy-four-year-old Regina Jennings never got more than $10,000 a year for her 15-year cleaning job at West Virginia University College of Law. It was some surprise, then, when she donated $93,000 to it because she was so glad that students had "treated me extremely well through the years". It turns out that she had inherited a modest house and astutely invested the rent. Her only stipulation was that her portrait should not be displayed. "Have you seen the people on those walls? No thanks."

Australia: The Ringwood East kindergarten has banned Santa from the end-of-term Christmas party. Some parents find his "ho ho hos" offensive.

New York: For years, nobody took much notice of a picture of Central Park by Childe Hassan that hung in the Westchester County village of Bronxville. It was bequeathed by William Burt, a stockbroker who died in 1947 after being hit by a car on Park Avenue. He paid less than $1,000 for the picture in the Thirties, when Hassan was out of vogue, and it has just fetched $4.5m at auction. Any qualms about defying Burt's will were quashed by the certain pleasure he would have got funding the overdue expansion of a local library.

Utah: When 8,700 cents were collected at Cedar Ridge Middle School, the plan was that when they became a mile long - some $90 - the proceeds would benefit victims of Hurricane Mitch. But somebody has just made off with them.

Travel News

The Netherlands: A dabba-doo time, a dabba-doo time, we'll have a gay old time! You can understand why the authorities at Groningen airport were adamant that pilot Wim de Nijs should not land there any more. He was apparently in the habit of keeping a wireless channel open and singing The Flintstones theme song for 20 minutes at a time - a version which almost made The B-52s' travesty of the sacred original palatable. Wil-ma!

Hungary: En route from Bangkok to Budapest, a Finn, Mikaeinar Petersen, became so unruly that passengers and crew held him in his seat while a doctor gave him a tranquillising injection. This reacted with the drugs and alcohol he had already consumed, and killed him.

New York: Janet Osita, from Ghana, did not take in the view of Queens as her flight arrived at JFK; she had gone into labour, and gave birth on the runway. Passengers allowed her and her baby to go to the front of the queue for passport control.

Australia: Jan Ashton, a tennis enthusiast and chemistry teacher, crashed on her way home. She had been headed for Edgecliff from Waverley but somehow ended up in a cul-de-sac in Botany. She denied drinking, claimed to be a friend of Lady Fairfax, and blamed a botched "neck-lift": the surgeon had severed a nerve in her ear, which had led to a loss of balance. Meanwhile, her osteopath, David Vivian-Jones, had another theory, and testified that her designer perfume had reacted with her skin to give an illusory tang of alcohol. The judge was having none of it. He sided with the view of Jordan Rose, into whose wall Ms Ashton had smashed. Mr Rose was a barman and knew bourbon when he smelt it. She was fined $1,000 and banned for a year.

A La Mode

Belgium: Stella McCartney is all very well, but the really chic may consider a little number from Luc Mertes - so long as they have strong shoulders and are not prone to rheumatism. He has introduced grass clothing. This jute creation grows on the wearer over several weeks, a process that requires watering and cutting every few weeks. It could also be ideal for the pregnant, but wait for the Marks & Spencer version.


Tokyo: The Japanese reserve has known such blips as Blood Island - and now the annual screaming contest, in its 18th year. Politicians, ex-lovers, all have to bear the tonsil-quivering brunt, which breaks the city regulations of 85 decibels. Several competitors scored well over a hundred, and the winner was Mamiko Kobayashi, whose vocal 111.6 netted her pounds 1,200, supplied appropriately by Halls, the menthol throat-sweet manufacturers.