Flat Earth

MARCH is the month of St Patrick, as all Irish people know. And as the 17th approaches we feel we should warn you of what to expect at an Irish embassy reception. Our advice covers the shamrock, that sentimental symbol of Ireland's bogs, and its embarrassing disappearance in Peking on St Patrick's Day 1980, when the Dublin government threw an expansive do to mark the opening of its embassy there.

As was the case at Peking, you will probably pass an enormous Waterford crystal bowl, filled with shamrocks flown in at great expense from the republic, as you wait in line to shake hands with the ambassador. Beside the Waterford you'll find a silver platter of pins to attach the shamrock to your lapel.

In 1980 every leading cadre in Peking turned up at the embassy's door. The reception line took more than a hour to pass. With everyone inside and the party underway, embassy staff saw that the crystal bowl was indeed empty, but that, oddly, there was not a single sprig of shamrock on a Chinese lapel.

The problem was solved when an alert junior diplomat spotted several mandarins picking green fragments from their teeth. China's rulers had just grazed their way through the equivalent of a quarter of an acre of shamrock pasture.

Nice little earner

SHE advertised herself in 'adult' magazines as a sex- hungry air hostess, aged 34. When she appeared in court in Copenhagen, she was leaning on a walking stick and admitted to being 75. She was charged with deception and blackmail, having enticed 100 young men to her garden at night, persuaded them to strip naked on the lawn so she could first 'judge them on their merits', then call their bluff.

As the nude Dane waited patiently to be inspected, she would emerge from her house dressed as a nurse accompanied by her son.

He, too, was dressed as a hospital worker. Together they threatened the hapless victim with the law. He was told there was a 92-year-old woman on her death-bed inside the house, and his unruly conduct in the garden was likely to tip her over the edge. There were two alternatives: a pounds 40 'fine' payable on the spot, or the police. Most chose to pay up.

Drunk on power

WE TOLD you last week that a new political party, Beer Drinkers, had been formed in Russia. It has been pointed out to us that in neighbouring Poland an identical Beer Lovers Party won 16 seats at the general election in 1991. It later split into two factions, Big Beer and Little Beer. Perhaps it was the result of a bad hangover.

Country pumpkins

JAPAN'S modern image takes a knock from time to time when its people, especially in the countryside, show they are ill- informed about the ret of the world.

The University of Tokushima on the west Japanese island of Shikoku has agreed to build a tall fence around a hostel for foreign students, and to bathe the area with floodlight. The locals had complained that the foreigners would forage through their vegetable patches, steal their pumpkins and cucumbers and wander into their homes.

Virus renaissance

AND finally, a health advisory for your computer. A virus called 'Michelangelo' is expected to strike PCs with MS-

DOS operating systems today, as it did on 6 March last year and the year before. Persons unknown introduced the virus, which destroys all data entered in computers on 6 March, the anniversary of Michelangelo's birth.

The disease is especially virulent in Germany, where 15,000 computers came down last year. It is, happily, much less common on this side of the channel. The worst virus here is the comparatively benign 'Stoned' which, like our sister paper, the Independent, merely calls for the legalisation of marijuana.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power