Outside Edge: Cambridge bumps into trouble

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The Independent Online

Ruffled feathers in Cambridge, where Robin Middleton, known as Battleship Bob, has been fined nearly £7,000 for parking his 72ft barge across the River Cam, thereby blocking the rowers competing in the University's May Bumps.

He said he was protesting that the river's swans and their habitat were being threatened; as the object of the Bumps is to hit the boat in front, it's surprising the oarsmen didn't just barge him out of the way. Perhaps they were afraid he would open fire.

In Jaipur, India animal-rights activists have managed to get an elephant polo match cancelled after a magistrate ruled the beasts were not properly registered as performing animals. Elephant water polo is also out, even though they've all got trunks.

Coming soon: calls for bookshops to ban sales of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass on the grounds that the Red Queen uses flamingos as mallets and hedgehogs as balls in her croquet match.


The salary being offered by Cornwall County Council in their search for a "project officer, Olympic torch relay" who will publicise the torch's passage through the region next year and also create "community engagement". Number of days that the torch will be in Cornwall: one. Strike a light.

Otis the dog star shines in the sky

No complaints about cruelty from Otis, a 10-year-old skydiving pug from California who has just made his 64th parachute jump. His owner, Will DaSilva, kits him out with a custom-made harness and "doggles" to protect his eyes, and claims he "has a ball". Let's hope he doesn't drop it.

And in other canine transport news from America, reports are coming in that a Greyhound bus has crashed in Nashville, spilling canisters of frozen bull semen across the road. Sounds like a cock and bull story to us.

Back in England, the Notts County manager Martin "Mad Dog" Allen is advertising on the club's website for a "whistling teacher" so that he can learn how to attract his players' attention as he paces the technical area during matches. Somebody should tell him that traditionally it's the humans who do the whistling and the dogs that respond.

Good week

Rachael Cadman, the RAF officer, became the first woman to complete the Arch2Arc Challenge, a 87-mile run, a 23-mile swim across the Channel and a 187-mile bike ride from London to Paris.

John Obi Mikel, the Chelsea midfielder, whose father Michael was set free by Nigerian kidnappers.

The BBC after the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, lifted his seven-year ban on talking to them.

Bad week

Mark Cavendish, the Manx cyclist, withdrew from the Vuelta a Espana race suffering from exhaustion.

Matt Holliday, the St Louis Cardinals baseball player, was forced to leave the field after a moth lodged in his ear.

An unnamed female paintballer had her breast implant punctured by a hit while competing in London.

Bookie Matt Thompson was charged by the British Horseracing Authority with breaching their rules on corruption.

All aboard for a spot of gravy training

Sheppey's Walk the Plank contest, an August regular for 14 summers, has been cancelled this year, and you've missed the Mashed Potato Wrestling at Barnesville, Minnesota by one day, but there are still plenty of utterly pointless and messy sporting activities on offer this Bank Holiday Monday.

Traditionalists can opt for the original World Bog Snorkelling Championship – often imitated, never bettered – as it returns to Llanwrtyd Wells in all its peaty plentitude for a 27th year, while altogether more flavoursome brown goo can be had in Lancashire at the World Gravy Wrestling Championships, held in a paddling pool filled with 1,000 litres of the stuff at the Rose 'n' Bowl in Stacksteads.

Contests last two minutes, and fancy dress is encouraged: last year Elliot Rourke took the men's title in a bunny girl outfit, while Elisa Samson, attired as Bo Peep, won the women's contest despite having a request for extra gravy on her lamb denied.