Charles Nevin: News from Elsewhere

Can you hear a strange, unearthly singing? Believe me, it's just the tip of the iceberg
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The Independent Online

Well, well, is it Monday already? Great. There are some people, you know, who sit around willing the weekend to go more quickly so they can reach today and my renowned digest of the other news, the stuff that provokes a wry smile which is then replaced by the sensitive, musing look which accompanies pondering the human condition. Well, there must be some people, although something, modesty, I imagine, has prevented them from coming forward so far. Come on, don't be shy, we're all in this together, you know!

No? Very well, suit yourself. I've got a singing iceberg to cover. German scientists have found one operating on the 0.5 hertz frequency. "The tune even goes up and down, just like a real song," says Professor Vera Schlindwein. No details of the playlist yet, but I, naturally, have a few suggestions, starting, naturally, with "Ice Work If You Can Get It", by George and Ira Brrrshwin and "Summer Freeze" by The Icely Brothers.

All right, all right, but not before I speculate on it being signed by the Atlantic label and doing some Celine Dion covers before moving on to a meltingly lovely tearjerker about an over-ambitious iceberg, "Do You Know The Way To San José", by Berg Bacharach. There won't be any dry ice in the house.

Hang on, though: 0.5 is, apparently, undetectable to the human ear, which is something of a minus, marketing-wise. But if your dog starts acting strangely, and then the plates start sliding off the table, I'd take a look out of the window pretty quickly.

Which reminds me: there's been a spate of thefts of chihuahuas in Japan. There has. Police are, obviously, given the circumstances, leaving no stone unturned, but say that, so far, drum roll please, there are no leads. One called Beckham has been found abandoned by the thieves; sent off again, then. Or strayed.

Out of step

More cold weather news, now, and I'm absolutely delighted to report the first sighting of the season of a very old friend: that's right, in Austin, Minnesota, a 25-year-old man has been arrested carrying a television after police followed his footprints in the snow leading away from the house he had stolen it from. Marvellous, gets them every year, you know.

Perhaps we should also mention here the man in Poughkeepsie who was hit on the head again last week by a train pulling into the station, and the absconder in Springfield, Illinois, who attempted his getaway on a ride-on lawnmower.

Pull the other one

Remarkable species, aren't we? Two more top examples from last week: first, the Qigong Iron Crotch Grandmaster, Tu Jin-Sheng, pulled a furniture van several yards with his penis, which is stretching it a bit, if you ask me, while Mr Drew Tillotson of Windsor Heights, Iowa, donated his collection of 15,000 bricks to the town because he was uncertain what to do with them. The town is going to use them to build things with. Good thing Tu Jin-Sheng didn't hear about this, as it might have given him ideas.

Bit of a flap on about birds, too, I notice, at the moment, so I thought I'd better bring you some of the other avian announcements, starting with the meteorologists in Newton Abbot who have been issued with crash helmets as protection against the seagulls that keep attacking them on the roof of the council offices as they go about their business. I know we're having a cold snap, but that's going a bit far, surely.

Not as far as India, though, where in Assam they are appealing for dead animals for vultures. Vulture numbers are in serious decline, it seems. Splendid. I now look forward to Jackal Aid and Mice in Need. Elsewhere, there were a couple of parrot stories, but they are terrific publicity hounds, so I'll conclude in Northlake, Illinois, where Mr Mark Copsy has saved an elderly couple from a blazing car by smashing the windscreen with his frozen turkey.


What else, what else? Well, you can imagine my feelings when I heard that there had been a shooting in a dance competition, and when it turned out to have been in Philadelphia rather than on Strictly Come Dancing. Pertinent piece of information bonus: W C Fields chose as his epitaph: "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

Oh, and there's a couple of health warnings. First, think carefully if someone asks you to kiss their fish. Mr Alan Binnie declined the offer in Falkirk and was then slapped in the face with it by Mr David Evans, who was given six months and told by the Sheriff that he had "reached the end of the line". Mr Binnie could not recall if the fish was a wet kipper but says better things have happened to him.

Second, after an unfortunate incident in Pittsburgh, female llama owners are being advised not to cuddle the young animals as in adulthood they are likely to treat men as competing llamas; this applies particularly to the ones who have not been castrated. Verb sap, Tu Jin-Sheng, I should have said.

Finally, something else to worry about, when you've got a second: the south polar ice cap on Mars has shrunk for a third successive year. The iceberg is reported to be humming pensively.