Charles Nevin: News from Elsewhere

How many drinks do you need before you think the robot behind the bar fancies you?
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The Independent Online

There you are. You'd almost missed Britain's premier digest of the unmissable news you might have missed lately. And we start with jubilant scenes in Kern County, California, where a chicken fined for crossing the road has walked free after a judge threw the case out. Why can the chicken cross the road? Because it is deemed to be a family pet rather than straying livestock. Splendid, but I couldn't find any discussion of what happens if the chicken gets run over. Will the owners, Mr and Mrs Linc Moore, be allowed to eat it?

There you are. You'd almost missed Britain's premier digest of the unmissable news you might have missed lately. And we start with jubilant scenes in Kern County, California, where a chicken fined for crossing the road has walked free after a judge threw the case out. Why can the chicken cross the road? Because it is deemed to be a family pet rather than straying livestock. Splendid, but I couldn't find any discussion of what happens if the chicken gets run over. Will the owners, Mr and Mrs Linc Moore, be allowed to eat it?

While we wait for the answer to that question, I am at least able to tell you that the chicken came before the egg. Well, two eggs, to be precise, belonging to Mr Bobby Freeman, of Evesham, Worcs. Mr Freeman was "stunned" last week when the eggs he was frying assumed an uncanny likeness to Her Majesty The Queen. No, I've looked at the picture, and he's got a point. It's not quite as good as that one of Elvis on the piece of toast belonging to a woman in Wales, but, in my view, considerably better than the ultrasound scan of Mrs Erica Brazier of Toledo, Ohio, purporting to show the face of Jesus. But who am I to argue with a big money T-shirt deal?

Now I know what you're thinking, but, no, no reports so far of the face of the new Pope appearing on a bratwurst. But I can tell you that a German toy firm is selling a limited edition 16-inch moving doll of Pope Benedict for £93. And he's just moved his piano into the Vatican.

A bit unorthodox

Elsewhere, you will have seen that the Greek Orthodox Church has barred gynaecologists, publicans, moneylenders and magicians from ordination. I'm not quite sure what the attitude of the Church of England is on this, although I note that the Reverend Andy Morris, 48, is fire-eating at fetes to promote services at St Matthew's, Bestwood, Notts. Sorry? No, publican has, in fact, two meanings. St Matthew was a tax gatherer rather than a tavern keeper.

Talking of taverns, a Glasgow man has just unveiled a robot bar person, which he believes will cut down on waiting time, but I'm not sure, as I find it difficult enough to catch the eye of human bar staff. Besides, I rather think it's every British drinker's right to be served by a live Australian. And how many will you need to have before you think that a robot fancies you? Exactly. Another plot by the breweries.

But at least the Greek Orthodox Church is allowing carpenters, which is good, given the history. Cue for wood news. No, sorry, you've missed Richard Gere, he was on BBC1 last night. Elsewhere, it's looking grim for the Leylandii, that titan of trees and prince of pines, another of Lancashire's gifts to an ungrateful world, being discovered on the estate of a scion of the Leyland family. Some people turned their noses up at George Formby, too, you know. Anyway, all sorts of fines are threatened for Leylandii owners who fail to curtail their exuberant specimens, and the days of this jolly green giant must surely be numbered.

Soft landing

Don't say I didn't warn you, though. Only last week, a German parachutist's life was saved by the branches of friendly pine near Munich after his chute failed to open. What it that were to happen in this country in the future? Exactly. As it happens, it was the only tree in the vicinity, which made the escape even more remarkable.

It also reminds me of the story about the Hollywood film crew finding the perfect location, a high ridge, marred only by a tree which was in the way of the shot. So they chopped it down. Back in town, they waxed lyrical about the beauty of the spot and asked if it had a name. Yes, said the locals, Lone Pine Ridge.

Down, boy

Films, eh? They're making another Lassie one, you know. With, as usual, male collies pretending to be Lassie. In the old ones, the dogs used to wear a hairpiece covering the vital area. No, don't mention it, just happy to pass on knowledge. The nephew of the man who used to train the Lassie dogs played Pugsley in The Addams Family, by the way. Clincher: Trigger got his break in the movies playing Maid Marian's horse in Errol Flynn's Robin Hood. He did.

Where were we? Ah, yes, that's right, seagulls. What is it with the French and seagulls? There was all that stuff about following the trawler with Eric Cantona, and now I see that Dominique de Villepin uses the seagull as a symbol of France. He says it's because the seagull soars and "listens to the world". Others say it's because they unburden themselves on people from a great height, but here we have no truck with such tired old stereotypes, preferring to ask you what a man with one on his head is called. Cliff.

Judgement of Paris

Actually, on names, did you see that Paris Hilton is going to marry the Greek shipping heir, Paris Latsis? Keeps it simple, and will hopefully stop all those annoying calls asking for a reservation. Now I must go, as I'm halfway through a very interesting book about a young magician which I found in a pub in Kettering.

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