Coming up ... a quirky look at the week ahead

From worms to inflatable friends ... a quirky look at the week ahead
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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's the worms' turn

Don't be surprised if you see hoards of people singing to their front lawns this week. The International Festival of Worm Charming is expected to spark off a craze for the mysterious art. The aim is to try and tempt as many worms as possible to the surface during a 15-minute period. Mechanical diggers and liquid stimulants are banned, but almost anything else goes. Previous methods have included meditation, magic pebbles, Liquorice Allsorts and twanging a garden fork so the wrigglers think it's raining. It is apparently a highly-skilled business. "People think you just sing them a song and dance on the lawn and they'll sprout from the turf like meat coming through a mincer," one contender said. "But it's a lot harder than that." The world record currently stands at 511 worms in 30 minutes.

For the love of bats

Another of the nation's less celebrated creatures will be in the spotlight this week. 9-17 May has been designated National Bat Week, with the express purpose of getting us to love these poor misunderstood animals and dispelling our creepy misconceptions. Famous fears of bats swooping down and getting tangled in the hair of unsuspecting victims are apparently unfounded. "Bats have absolutely no desire to wrestle with your hair," a spokeswoman for the Bat Conservation Trust said. "They are not blind and stupid as people seem to think. They are cute and fluffy and do absolutely no harm to anyone."

Going bananas

If you've got the Monday morning blues today, allow yourself to be cheered by one bit of heartening news. Marks & Spencer has solved the problem of rotting bananas. Most of us are all too familiar with the miserable scenario where you've brought your weekly bunch of Britain's favourite fruit during your Saturday morning shop, only to discover that by Monday they're already starting to go off, and by Thursday they're positively inedible. Thankfully, M&S has come up with the answer. They're introducing a range of "Now and Later Bananas". For a mere pounds 1.49, you get five bananas ready to eat for a couple of days after purchase and five greener bananas that will ripen in the bowl, ready to eat from four days later.

The big blow-up

Equally smart is a new eco-friendly scheme that takes off in Leeds this week. The city council is introducing Britain's first priority lane for car-sharing vehicles. Drivers who arrange to give their mates a lift to work will be able to glide down the bus lanes and avoid the choking queues of traffic. So while you sit and sweat in the rush hour, your green goody- twoshoes colleagues, will be able to have an extra half an hour in bed, smugly overtake you on the inside and arrive at work before you. But for the cunning, there is a solution to be learned from our transatlantic cousins. Droves of Americans have beaten such systems by investing in life-sized blow-up dolls, dressing them up in a suit, and strapping them in to the passenger seat.