You, being Independent on Sunday readers, don't believe in Ollie, do you? Well, here's an IoS ex-flew-sive. Ollie has silly season FORM!!
Two years ago, a few weeks before parliament reassembled, an African Grey parrot worth pounds 1,000 was snatched by two youths from a pet shot in Hampshire, who then ran off into the woods. Police in a spotter plane and officers with dogs hunted down the raiders who dropped three-month- old ... OLLIE! It's true. I read it in the Daily Mail of Monday 18 September, 1995. This warrants an OLLIE HOTLINE. If you've seen Ollie, ring 0171 293 2394 (but wait till Wednesday please) or e-mail sundayletters @independent.co.uk.
Exclusives are volatile things, particularly when it comes to the Dodi and Di saga. "KELLY LIED!" was a second edition "World Exclusive" for the Sunday Mirror last week. Small world, though. Another Sunday newspaper, modesty forbids us mentioning which, ran a remarkably similar front-page story, under the restrained headline of "Dodi's former wife questions model's story".
The "story" in question was "Kelly Fisher's Own Story" which ran throughout the week in the News of the World and then the Sun - a "World Exclusive", naturally, which it is estimated cost the Sun pounds 250,000. What could the Mirror do? "By huge popular demand" it declared the paper a "Dodi-free zone", and so it remained until Friday when Di's "Holidodi No 3" (which was, of course, an exclusive) proved too tempting.
The Sun's exclusive deal left the field clear in other papers for all manner of creatures: the biggest wasps' nest in Britain (only 5ins shorter than Ronnie Corbett), the tabby cat suckling a baby squirrel, and an explosion in the flea population. This has hit Merseyrail's commuters, with five infested trains being taken out of service for fumigation, according to the Mail. One rail guard said: "We are being eaten alive", which makes his job more dangerous than those of his South Africa counterparts. There, rail staff are being bothered by a different kind of fumigation. Commuters consider it a jolly jape to blow smoke through the keyhole of the front carriage into the drivers' booths. Since the substance being smoked is marijuana, drivers have been advised to stop driving if they feel woozy. And the keyholes are being stopped up.
Unable to decide who was king of the jungle, John Prescott and Peter Mandelson traded affectionate sobriquets after a difference of perspective on the granting of the Millennium Dome's pounds 6m roofing contract to a German contractor. John found Peter rather crab-like in his hard exterior and soft centre, while Peter found John "a big beast in the jungle..." "a gorilla or monkey". Both enjoyed a "good belly laugh" at the press reports on this, according to Mandelson in the Mirror, and no doubt continued to laugh all week as the public finally got to know that the German contractor was to be ditched in favour of an "American" company, which, according to Saturday's Mail, was 100 per cent Japanese-owned.
Do Not be alarmed if an apparently amiable and sane American visitor stops you in the street and says, for example, "... and this friendly little bugger is my son. The teachers shag him at school, but we say nowt since we really give a toss about education." The British film The Full Monty has been a hit all summer in the States but, since the film proceeds in the argot of the North of England, the distributors have thoughtfully supplied a glossary, which London's Evening Standard printed on Wednesday. Here are some excerpts:
bugger: ... can also be a humorous or affectionate term for a man or child as in "friendly little bugger"
shag, shagging, shagged: to have sexual intercourse, to exhaust
toss: give a toss, care about something
Since Americans care about so many things, I have high hopes of hearing much of that last one.Reuse content