Genius moments: April 2008
Tuesday 23 December 2008
I'm Naomi, fly me
Naomi Campbell, consumer-rights champion? Hmmm. The model had thrown a wobbly aboard a jet from the chaotic newly-launched British Airways terminal after a row over a missing bag; when the police were called on to the plane and she allegedly walloped one of them, she was arrested for assault. Campbell claimed that her not-entirely-uncharacteristic fit of rage was born of solidarity with the long-suffering passengers who had to endure the early days at the new terminal; BA wasn't having any of it, and barred the supermodel for life.
William's £30,000 house call
When Prince William landed his RAF helicopter in the garden of Kate Middleton's family home, the pressure was on the Ministry of Defence to defend the prince's "ridiculous" use of the chopper (running costs: £15,000-an-hour). The MOD insisted the "two-hour training" mission was fully authorised.
What planet was he on?
It was a scandal that threatened to bring shame on the travel-writing profession – Thomas Kohnstamm from San Francisco caused red faces at Lonely Planet HQ when he claimed not to have visited a country he was writing about. "They didn't pay me enough to go to Colombia," he told Australia's Herald Sun. "I got the information from a chick I was dating who was an intern in the Colombian Consulate." Lonely Planet said the writer had only contributed the history section to the book and was reviewing Kohnstamm's work.
To baldly go
James Campbell, a retired art teacher from Stirlingshire, claimed he was a victim of disability discrimination. His disability? Baldness. He told a Glasgow tribunal he had suffered from harassment at the hands of pupils who saw his lack of hair as a weakness. Campbell, who retired as an art teacher in 2007, said he steered clear of corridors in the school where he would meet pupils to avoid them shouting "baldy". The judge decided against the claim, fearing it would set a dangerous precedent. "If baldness was to be regarded as an impairment then perhaps a physical feature such as a big nose, big ears or being smaller than average height might of themselves be regarded as an impairment."
Clean sweep for little Sam
The UK Intellectual Property Office's patent No 2438091 comprises only two brooms tied together with rubber bands. But the crude contraption was enough
to make Samuel Houghton, five, the youngest inventor in Britain. The Derbyshire schoolboy was three when he came up with the idea to combine a thick-bristled brush with a thinner one. "The small one gets the first bits and the one at the back gets the bits that are left behind," he told The Guardian. "We are doing this to help Samuel learn," said his father Mark, a patents lawyer. "No," corrected Samuel, "I did it to help Daddy."
See you by the DJ booth, Liz
She suffers from diabetes and congestive heart failure, survived viral pneumonia and had a benign brain tumour removed. Clubbing, you would think, is not high on the list of Liz Taylor's priorities. Yet the wheelchair-bound Queen of Hollywood was spotted holding court in the Abbey, her favourite LA gay bar, knocking back watermelon martinis and tequila shots. And, after a summer of rumours about her ill health, the 76-year-old returned to the Abbey in September.
Gordon and Shakira get it on
The highlight of a spring in which Gordon Brown appeared on American Idol to promote the cause of eradicating malaria and discussed the Darfur crisis with George Clooney came with an evening telephone summit with Shakira. Brown and the Colombian pop star talked about boosting Third World education; Brown would at least have been reassured about the integrity of the 31-year-old's hips, which, according to her duet with Wyclef Jean, "don't lie".
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