Charles Nevin: News from Elsewhere

Let's hear it for Pluto - a pedestrian paragon for pooches, with or without his neuticles
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The Independent Online

Hello and welcome to another edition of the column that leaves the super information highway by the sliproad signed Elsewhere, parks the conventional news agenda, jumps on to the file marked Meanwhile and then cycles several extra miles to keep you right up to speed with events in What Else Has Been Going On.

And, first, if you will, a moment for Goldie, the world's oldest goldfish, won at a fair in 1960, who has died aged 45 in Bradninch, Devon. Goldie's owner, Mr Tom Evans, said: "He'd not been well."

Farewell, Goldie. I note that the most common name for a goldfish is "Jaws", but Goldie will do for me. Oh, yes, and what's odder than seeing a catfish? Seeing a goldfish bowl. Goldfish walks into a bar. Barman says, "What can I get you?" Goldfish says, "Water". All right, all right.

Anyway, while you're pondering on what it must have been like, swimming round and round in a bowl for 45 years, I should remind you that the memory span of the average goldfish is, allegedly, three seconds, although how they worked that out I'm not sure, as, by my timing, asking "And what can you remember now?" takes four seconds.

Which reminds me, across the other side of the county from Goldie's old home, Mr Tony Brown of Buckland Brewer has escaped a fine because the speed camera, which was made in Holland, was set to Dutch time. And Holland is a full hour ahead of us, so he couldn't possibly have been going that fast. And it's much flatter than Devon. I think I've got that right.

Today is the 72nd anniversary of Einstein arriving in the United States from Germany, by the way.

Time, eh? If Mrs Angelique Fiorillo of Glenwood, Colorado, had been watching Oprah as usual last week, she would have been crushed to death by a boulder that came down nearby Red Mountain and crashed through the wall of her apartment. Luckily, she was watching it at a neighbour's instead. Verb sap: do try to vary where you read this column. I wonder, too, if I'm alone in regretting that Mrs Fiorillo doesn't live in that other well-known jewel among Colorado cities, Boulder.

Jaws wide open

Ten minutes: that's how long it took Mr Ed "Cookie" Jarvis of Nesconset, New York, to eat 19 grilled cheese sandwiches at the Arkansas State Fair. Which is good, but not as good as the 40 jam sandwiches consumed by Mr Peter Dowdeswell of Earls Barton, Northampton, in 17 minutes, 53.9 seconds on, uncannily, this very day in 1977. Mr Jarvis's effort was organised by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, which also has competitions for, inter alia, meat pies and matzo balls.

The record for meat pies is held by Mr Boyd Bulot of Hammond, Louisiana: 16 in 10 minutes, which doesn't impress me that much, but then I've seen action in Wigan. I mention matzo balls - 21 in five minutes, 25 seconds, Mr Eric Booker of New York - so I can remind you that Marilyn Monroe had her first experience of them when she was married to Arthur Miller; and commented afterwards, "Very nice. Tell me, can you eat any other part of the matzo?".

Ah, yes. Mr Booker also holds the pumpkin pie record - four and three-eighths in 12 minutes - which also allows me to tell you that last week's record pumpkin from Bavaria - 88.1 stone - has been beaten by an 88.8 stone effort from Washington State. Other important food news comes from Miami, Florida, where pet pythons abandoned in the Everglades are proving something of a problem as they slither their way back to the city. One ate a turkey last week, and, even more sadly, a Siamese cat called Florence belonging to Mrs Elidia Rodriguez. Mr Jarvis, Mr Dowdeswell, Mr Bulot and Mr Booker: sorry, no details on times.

Better news for cats from Hastings, New Zealand, where one has been tempted down from a palm tree after a week by Mr Jamie Green's Marmite sandwich. And for dogs, in Japan, where Pluto, a poodle, has been honoured for public service after walking 20 metres over a pedestrian crossing on his hind legs wearing a sash bearing the words, "traffic safety". Well done, Pluto; although, I have to say that if I was driving in Japan, I might find the sight of a poodle walking on its hind legs a touch distracting. Which reminds me, did you know that you can get neutered dogs fitted with prosthetic appendages called neuticles? Sorry? Yes, that's right, absolutely, the dog's bollocks.

Pyramid scam

Crime news, now, and a man dressed as an Egyptian mummy has robbed a bank in Vienna. Police haven't wrapped it up yet. Either that, or they're still trying to unravel it. Meanwhile, they're checking museums, intensive care units, and mad scientists. I wonder, myself, if it might not be connected with the hypnotist who has pulled off a series of bank heists in Moldova. Tellers are being advised not to make eye contact with customers, and no wonder, as the possibilities are most worrying: "You are getting sleepy, very sleepy... It is not an overdraft... The account is in credit... When I snap my fingers, I want you to wake up and say, 'Hello, Mr Abramovich'."

Finally, this just in, stop press: 12th Annual Rhode Island Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Championship: Mr Scott Palmer, welder: 103.1!

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