John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

* A Dirty Harry moment this week for CSI Bryan Lawton of the Greater Manchester Police. You may recall that, in the film, Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) interrupts his hamburger break to confront bank robbers before returning to his lunch. In Manchester, Lawton was walking along the street, talking to a reporter from Tower FM radio about National Tackling Drugs Week. Just as he was boasting that his force had made 66 arrests, he spotted a man hiding a black bin-bag under his jacket. He investigated the bin-bag and found "chemicals, plant food and other equipment" allegedly for growing cannabis. He handed the man over to fellow officers and returned to his interview. "Make that 67," he coolly told the chap with the microphone.

* What delicate constitutions the refuse collectors of North Yorkshire must have. Every week they collect custom-built rubbish bins which have a special compartment for glass and bottles. But now Craven council has written to local residents to say the ordeal of lifting the heavy bottle containers out of the bins is having "a negative effect" on the binmen, poor darlings. Residents are asked to do it themselves. This would, the council explains, "take a lot of strain out of the job for our staff" and "reduce injury risks". Well I dare say, but what about the strain on the 92-year-old arthritic widow who has to manhandle a dozen Wincarnis bottles out of the receptacle? But if it "reduces injury risks" to the bin wranglers of Craven, that's all that matters.

* That Dalai Lama, he's a caution. On Thursday he charmed the pants off MPs when appearing before a Commons committee. Naturally he spoke about the Chinese earthquake and the human rights situation in Tibet, but he also revealed he often swipes breakfast rolls from hotels to keep him going during the day. "Sometimes on the aeroplane, breakfast is quite poor," he murmured. "I need not only quality but quantity because the Buddhist monk – no dinner." Asked to reveal what was in his red sack, he extracted a spectacles case, an eye-shade – and a boiled sweet in its wrapper. Where'd he get it? Sweet manufacturers would kill for an endorsement from such a source.

* Prince Charles was at the Chelsea Physic Garden this week, regretting all the ancient wisdom of herbs and medicinal plants that's been destroyed by deforestation. "This garden not only reminds us of that priceless traditional knowledge, but helps preserve it," he said. While we're on the subject of priceless knowledge, could he perhaps have a word with his dad about ignorance and education? The Duke got in a frightful strop when contradicted, at the Chelsea Flower Show, by an Australian designer whose cycad the Duke had thought was a fern. "I don't want a bloody lecture," he reportedly muttered while exiting. But without the occasional lecture, sire, how would any of us know anything about ferns, cycads, medicinal plants – or the proper care and treatment of royals?

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