FLAT EARTH

How to needle

a Calabrian

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."

Going ape

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.

Hot property

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence