John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

A double honour for the storm-tossed Amy Winehouse this week. First, a wax model of the singer was put on display at Madame Tussauds, in response to thousands of requests from the public. Her parents posed with the (amazingly lifelike, for once) waxwork, which stood 6ft high – 9ins of which were taken up by her hair and heels. Elsewhere, a farmer called Marlon Brooks, from Ludham, Norfolk, finding that his traditional scarecrow was ineffective in frightening local wildfowl away from his sugar-beet, redesign-ed it with heavy make-up, tattoos, beehive hair, fishnet stockings, cigarette and bottle of brandy – and found it was a great success. "The pigeons are terrified," he said. "They're sitting up on the telephone wires, too scared to come into the field. It's brilliant. Every farmer needs an Amy scarecrow."

* Congratulations to the American newspaper Valley News, which covers the border of New Hampshire and Vermont. It perpetrated, if not the worst-ever typo in history, certainly the most visible. It was the paper's own name, spelt "VALLEY NEWSS" last Monday. The editor's apology, next day, was suitably sheepish: "Readers may have noticed that the Valley News misspelled its own name on yesterday's front page," it read. "Given that we routinely call on other institutions to hold themselves accountable for their mistakes, let us say for the record: we sure feel silly." And the worst typo ever? Probably The Times's write-up of the opening of Waterloo Bridge by the Prince Regent on 18 June 1817, when, due to a stray vowel, the report claimed that "The Royal party then pissed over the bridge." The entire composing-room staff was (reportedly) sacked next day.

* Richard Attenborough, the veteran film actor and director, has claimed that people have become desensitised to the presence of knives and other weapons because of their ubiquity on the big screen: he should know whereof he speaks, having played the razor-slashing Pinky in the 1947 movie of Brighton Rock. The carrying of knives, he says, has become, "almost a commonplace ... Thirty years ago, if Gary Cooper pulled out a gun, the audience would give a sharp intake of breath. Now the act of violence with a gun or a knife is the norm." True enough, but if Cooper had pulled out a gun, or anything else, onscreen 30 years ago, the audience would have rapidly checked the age of the film they were watching. The great Cooper died, aged 60, in 1961...

* I don't know if animal rights watchers are aware of it, but there have been some shocking outbreaks of fish abuse recently. In Washington DC, a beauty salon called Yvonne's Hair and Nails employs tiny carp to nibble away at the hard scales on their customers' feet. Around 5,000 punters have so far availed themselves of this cruelly exploitative piscine pedicure. And in the Chinese city of Chengdu, there's a craze among teenage girls for wearing livefish as jewellery: heart-shaped plastic keychains or plastic pendants that contain a fish, some water, fish food and oxygen balls. The fish can live for three months in these charming surroundings, but should then be released into a proper tank by their teenage captors. That's, like, so not going to happen, say furious marine biologists – or words to that effect.