John Walsh: BTW (29/10/10)

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The Independent Online

We know people have been ex-communicated on wobbly grounds, but this is ridiculous. From Melbourne comes the story of Libby Ashby, a single mother and actress in TV commercials. When asked to do an ad for erectile dysfunction awareness, she wasn't keen, but needed the money. In the commercial, she's seen using her husband's triumphantly restored membrum virile for a leg-up to reach a biscuit tin on a shelf, while a voiceover intones, "Take the right step towards erection problems." Now her local church has "disfellowshipped" her. In Catholic rubric, nine sins condemn you to excommunication. They include heresy, apostasy, schism and the use of physical force against the Pontiff. I don't recall any mention of, you know, biscuits.

* Oliver is now the most popular name for boys in England and Wales. It's not surprising when one thinks how many morally upstanding Olivers exist in the public mind: Reed, Twist, Stone and, er, Jamie. But more alarming is the preponderance of posh titles imposed on British children. In the past year there were 16 Kings, 68 Princes, eight Dukes, 11 Earls, four Barons and four Lords. Which isn't a patch on the girls. Among new baby daughters were 109 Princesses, seven Queens and five Ladys. Why impose this aristocratic albatross on tiny children to whom it will be a vexatious burden? Mr Jackson, Ms Latifah and Ms Gaga have a lot to answer for.

* Spare a thought for the student from Dusseldorf who decided that, instead of leaning his bike against the wall of his digs, he'd suspend it from the ceiling, using magnets.

Unfortunately they were super-strong neodymium magnets, capable of attracting 700lb weights, and suitable only for industrial experiments. When the second was unwrapped, it flew across the room to clamp against its brother, crushing the guy's finger between them, and shattering his distal phalange. Firemen arrived, but special cutting equipment stuck to the magnets (duh!) as did the steel toecaps of the men's boots. The solution was a rubber mallet and a wooden wedge. Don't try this at home, kids.