Sunday 06 August 1995
BRAVE as a lion, the BBC, I always say, and quite fearless in pursuit of Truth. But was it really wise to antagonise the entire population of southern Italy, addicted as it is to eternal vendettas? It seems that a BBC team, intent on demonstrating the unarguable fact that the mafia- infested city of Reggio di Calabria is a dump, picked up a load of old syringes and condoms and what not, scattered them artfully about on Reggio di Calabria's main street and then proceeded to film them with every sign of verite. They were, however, caught in the act, given a good smacking by outraged locals and sent on their way. But the fallout continues. Another BBC outfit down south on a story about illegal immigrants met a particularly miserable and dishevelled Albanian who had endured hours on the open seas, and asked to interview him. He drew himself up haughtily, withdrawing the hem of his overcoat as one avoiding contamination, and said: "The BBC? The ones who planted those syringes? I'm not talking to you."
THE remarkable thing about the mass outbreak of violent chimpanzees from an Ulster zoo last week was not so much that they escaped but what they did next. Did they pelt their keepers or push over policemen and steal their helmets or raid fruit-and-veg barrows? No. With uncanny, almost high-minded precision, they set about attacking the environment's greatest enemy, the motorcar.
No Ford Sierra parked near the zoo was safe. But how did the chimps, immured for life in their dreadful concrete compound, know the car was the thing to go for? They could not, for example, have absorbed the alarming reports from the world forest research conference in Finland this month which warns that global warming may be happening too fast for forests to adapt, and that the tree itself may disappear. Animal instinct is a mysterious thing.
The splendid anti-car manifestation came to an end only when the authorities unleashed a rain of tranquillising darts into the beasts, which is of course more or less what they have been doing to us for years as the smog gets hotter and thicker.
Vin du bays
NOW down, down, down we go into the cool caverns of the seas, where, if you're a lucky skindiver these days, you may run into 10,000 bottles of Pouilly Fume 1994. They've been submerged in crates at a secret spot 18 miles off the French coast by vigneron Jean-Louis Saget, who says that the rocking of the tides and currents, as well as mysterious influences of the sea water, will give the wine a fuller flavour and a pleasant mineral tang when they are salvaged in 1999.
"Aromatically, wine stored underwater is more complex, with a more developed bouquet. It's more mineral, one feels it has lived in osmosis with its surroundings," said Philippe Faure-Brach, a former world champion wine taster. "The one stored under earth is more fruity, with flowery notes."
1999, eh? Hmmm ... Maybe we'll be ready to forgive the French their nuclear tests and start drinking their wine again by 1999. This boycott, as I'm sure you agree, is, though necessary, a bit inconvenient at times. I keep wondering whether the English boycotted Bordeaux during the Napoleonic wars, and then realised that of course they didn't. Carnivorous English squires probably took additional relish in toasting the downfall of Boney with great bumpers of claret. On the other hand, Oddbins didn't have shelves bending under the vintages of Napa Valley and Tumbarumba back in 1815.
HERE we are in the supermarket at Velletri, on the outskirts of Rome. Outside it's sweltering, as hot as - I don't know - southern England or somewhere. The door bursts open, a masked man comes in from the street, pulling out a gun. Everyone puts their hands in the air as he goes straight to the counter, and, ignoring the money, the champagne, picks up the electric fan from the counter and, sweating profusely, backs out towards the door and away.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Budget 2015: George Osborne to axe subsidies for higher income earners in social housing
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...