Charles Nevin: News from Elsewhere

From robbing banks to turtles taking on the 007 mantle, it's all about pace and politeness
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Hallo and welcome once again to the column that rides out on to the wide range of other things going on all over this remarkable planet, rounds them up and drives them home to you with a vigour and tenacity unmatched since the days when Clint Eastwood was a trail hand on Rawhide.

Rawhide? You must remember; otherwise ask your dad, or, possibly, your grandad, as I've got a hectic schedule to get through. Great theme tune, though. There was that chap who used to sing it while beating his head in time with a tin tray. Or maybe that was "Mule Train". Ah, yes, happy days.

Anyway, to the world. And there's good and bad news, depending on whether or not you're anxious to make contact with life from other parts of the galaxy: Sir Paul McCartney last night became the first artist to broadcast live into space, beaming up "Good Day Sunshine" direct to the International Space Station from a concert in California. That should keep everybody away for a bit. Mind you, it could have been "Mull of Kintyre".

Staying with good and bad, I think you should know that next Sunday is Have A Bad Day Day, instituted in America in protest at the Have A Good Day thing. An excellent idea, and one which could be adapted so that we here could vent our clearly irrational irritation concerning some other too well-known phrases or sayings. How about At The Start Of The Day Day? Not Having Said That Day? Hello for Now Day? It's Going To Be A Windy/Rainy/ Cold New Day Day? Is Everything All Wrong For You Day? This May Not Be Recorded For Training Purposes Day? All right, all right, I'll stop now.

Politeness, after all, is important. I don't care who you are, it does make a difference. For example, in Canada, a man who politely queues up and then produces a card with his request neatly printed on it has now successfully robbed 29 banks in four months without even having to produce a gun. Police are said to be working on a scheme where he'll be trapped holding open the door as undercover women officers file slowly in.

Licensed to crawl

Talking of pace, I was also intrigued to see that Russian scientists have been training turtles for spying missions by fitting them out with radio receivers and cameras. Mr Alexei Burikov, top Rostov biologist, says they could be used to perform a whole range of dangerous operations, from placing bombs in an enemy HQ to depositing high-tech recording devices. Now I'm clear that some Russian turtles are pretty much tortoises, and can operate on land, but I'm still a bit worried about their cover. How usual a sight is a turtle in an enemy HQ, even if it isn't carrying a bomb? You'd have to be pretty patient, waiting for results, too. They could use this to their advantage, though: "Did that turtle move?" And, of course, they will make natural sleepers.

Actually, on animal sleeping, I am able to tell you that the heaviest sleepers are the lion and the sloth, at 14 and 19 hours a day respectively, while the giraffe sleeps for only two, which doesn't surprise me, as you must get squeezed right up against the bedhead, what with that neck. And it must also explain why neighbours in Rio de Janeiro have only just noticed that Mr Jesus Teixeira has been keeping a lion in his garage for the past 15 years.

Deer, too, get only three, and they're clearly not happy about it, as Mr Wayne Goldsberry has just had to fight one he discovered in a bedroom of his home in Bentonville, Arkansas. Elsewhere, in Modesto, California, Mr Robert Brookes thought he'd hit a deer, got out of his car to check and was knocked over by one. Bit of a Bambi's mother type of result in both cases, I'm afraid. And if you haven't got over her yet, I'd stop reading now, as Mr Goldsberry is going to eat his, and start again in Sweden, where moose have been displaying yet again why they will never make 007 material by getting drunk on fermented apples and invading a retirement home, causing havoc until police sent them on their way. No wonder the Swedes have an old saying: "No moose is good moose".

At a dead stop

Success there, but elsewhere there were problems even for the few law enforcers not hanging around the House of Commons lobbying. In Skegness, a drugs squad officer conducting a drugs awareness lesson in a school was unaware that he'd left a packet of amphetamines behind, while in South Carolina, another officer at another school had a similar failure vis-á-vis his gun. A certain amount of embarrassment, as well, in Melbourne after a traffic warden put a parking ticket on a car which had its dead driver slumped at the wheel. Marvellous. Other traffic news: Mrs Thelma Owens, 82, also of South Carolina, drove through the front of a building, five walls and out the back through a steel door. Police charged her with driving too fast for the conditions.

Finally, some more space news: A new asteroid just spotted in the Taurus constellation is to be named Azis, after a Bulgarian transvestite gypsy folk singer. Obladi oblada!