Charles Nevin: News from Elsewhere

At last, they've found a use for students. But what to do with a drunk, amorous moose?
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The Independent Online

Happy Monday! Welcome to the column that dismisses spurious claims by days like yesterday and puts today where it belongs, at the start of the week. And, with ado, we will now move on to one of the key reasons why this great day keeps it place at number one: my near-legendary if loosely-linked review of significant anniversaries and current events which might have escaped your attention, what with you being busy.

And our opening item astounds even me with its relevance: today is the 129th anniversary of the patent for the first alarm clock with a variable setting! It is. Seth E Thomas of New York is the man you have to thank for that marvellous moment earlier when you were at last able to cast off the dreary mantle of slumbrous weekend lethargy, snake out your hand at a speed only dreamt of by the late Sugar Ray Robinson, spring up from under the duvet and get started immediately on "With A Song In My Heart".

There is a suggestion that Mr Thomas might have got the patent earlier, but that's just a cheap joke put about by Friday. And by now, anyway, your thoughts will have inevitably turned to that uniquely British rising aid, the Teasmade. Well, as you know, success has many fathers, and there are several competing claims for the first Teasmade, including that of Samuel Rowbottom of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, but the man I that favour is Albert Richardson of Ashton-under-Lyne with his 1902-patented version featuring a winder releasing the catch releasing the arm that strikes the match that lights the spirit stove under the kettle; it had the added advantage that if all else failed the bed would almost certainly be set on fire.

Continuing our early day motion, to breakfast now, where we should remember Hippolyte Mege Mouries, the French inventor of margarine, who, had he lived, would have been 188 today. Biographical details are sketchy, but I think we can assume that in his youth he must have had an unfortunate encounter with a cow, as nothing else could possibly explain it.

Eggs? In Germany, you know, three students are going to try hatching an egg. They will take televised turns at eight-hour sittings, and will be competing with a hen which has produced more than 270 eggs during its career. Marvellous, a use for students at last, although they may find it challenging, not moving for only eight hours. Do you remember, by the way, what the chicken said when the hen hatched an orange? Look what mama laid. Oi!

Over in, ah, Orange County, meanwhile, there's been a bit of an incident at Los Serranos Golf & Country Club, where a sheriff's deputy allegedly pulled a gun on the two slow-playing golfers in front of him, raising the distinct possibility of a hole in at least one.

Food fit for the king

Quickly on to fast food, which has been typically frantic. In Wausau, Wisconsin, for example, a man crashed his car into the front door of the Burger King, reversed, parked and then went in for breakfast. General manager Kathy Fasse declined to say what Mr Rouland Steppert, 78, ordered, but I should imagine it arrived fairly promptly, even by Burger King standards. Did you know that Burger King was Elvis's favourite hamburger restaurant? He empathised with the name, apparently.

And at the McDonald's in Rochester, Minnesota, further confirmation that, with robbery, it pays to keep it simple. Staff were already a touch suspicious about the chap in the wig who arrived at 8pm wearing dark glasses saying he was from head office to do the stock taking; but he might just have got away with it if he hadn't then accidentally smeared his false mole all over his cheek. It didn't take police long to find a man with a smudge.

Some updates now. Dogs: In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the man responsible for a new dangerous dogs act has been attacked by his dog, while in Chubbuck, Idaho, a dog called Skeeter has been diagnosed with narcolepsy. I'd let him lie. Moose: going mad in Norway. A spate of attacks on rotary clothes driers, and, last week, two attacked a moose statue in a garden in Telemark.

Theories? "It remains unclear," reported the Aftenposten newspaper, "whether the moose felt threatened by the statue, or whether they were simply irritable, since it's the middle of the annual moose hunting season in Norway." Well, you would be, wouldn't you? And there's this, re one of the drier incidents: "in late autumn, unpicked fruit ferments and can intoxicate animals. Perhaps the moose was slightly drunk and therefore mistook the drier for another moose?" And this: "Witnesses reported seeing a moose with a drier, but wildlife officials failed to track it down". Well. That, I suspect, is going to be one very dapper, or one very irritable, moose.

The attack on the moose statue is particularly worrying, as there are implications for over here. You must have seen the reports about the use of cardboard cut-out police officers in Norfolk; if they start attracting the real thing, too, that would rather defeat the object, I would have thought. Now, then, what else? Ah, yes, having started with technological innovation, we should end in Samara, western Russia, where they've commemorated the invention of the radiator there 150 years ago by erecting a giant stone statue of one, after heated discussions, naturally.