John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

Three books on Cécilia Sarkozy in the same week! Cécilia and The Hidden Face of Cécilia Sarkozy have taken the lion's share of press attention, with the former's insulting descriptions of President Nicolas Sarkozy as a skirt-chasing, karaoke-singing, no-mates tightwad, and the latter's revelations about Cécilia's adoration for another man, Richard Attias. But the third book, Ruptures, contains the rum tale of Cécilia in Libya: how she was sent by her husband to arrange the freeing of six Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting children with Aids. Mme Sarkozy is quoted as saying, "Gaddafi had no intention of freeing these girls – I led the negotiations. I took control of Gaddafi." She also claims to have told French police, who happened to be with her, to break into the cells and free the prisoners. Now one of the nurses says this is moonshine and that the Libyans let them out. Can there be a touch of Heather Mills McCartney about the former premiere dame?

* The 2007 Darwin Awards, saluting the year's stupidest deaths, have been announced. Strongly favoured was a Texan alcoholic called Michael who couldn't drink because of a painful throat infection, so became addicted to alcohol enemas. The night he gave himself two 1.5 litre bottles of sherry up the Dallas Turnpike proved to be his last. Another tale involved a Colorado cab driver who discovered the naked bodies of a young couple in a roadway. Their deaths remained a mystery until someone discovered two sets of folded clothes on the (pyramid-shaped) roof of a nearby building. "There was no sign of foul play, only foreplay," remarked a local paper. My favourite is the German who wanted to remove a mole from his holiday property on the Baltic Sea. He drove metal rods into the earth and connected them to a high-voltage power line, to blitz the hapless insectivore underground. Unfortunately, he electrified the ground he stood on, and died of shock. "The precise date of his demise could not be ascertained," remarked a Darwin spokesman, "but the electricity bill may provide a clue."

* New Yorkers drinking coffee in Hell's Kitchen last week were surprised to see two elderly panhandlers wheeling a third along the pavement in an office chair, the seated man flopping alarmingly from side to side, despite their efforts to keep him upright. They parked him outside a cheque-cashing store, while they went in and tried to cash a $360 cheque made out to their friend. The teller, noting that neither man was Virgilio Cintron, the payee, asked where Mr Cintron was. "He's outside," was the answer, "We'll go and get him." Outside, a crowd had gathered around the office chair bearing Mr Cintron, who was, in fact, dead. A cop, eating his lunch, spotted the hubbub and the down-and-outs were charged with fraud, while their sedentary ex-friend was sent to the hospital morgue. Leaving people wondering: how did they imagine the stiff's physical presence would help them?

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