John Walsh: btw


* The grisly news from Ipswich gave the Aberdeen crime novelist Stuart MacBride a sense of déjà vu. His cop thriller Dying Light, published this year, features a killer whose victims are prostitutes, all picked up in the city's red-light district, stripped and dumped on open ground. Spooky. But as MacBride points out, the papers were too quick to use the word "serial" after two bodies were found. "The FBI, who coined the phrase 'serial killer' are very precise about categories," he says. "There are six: single, double and triple homicide, for murders in one location in a single incident. More than three people all killed at the same time in a single location is a mass murder. Two or more people killed in different places as part of a single event is a spree. Serial killers are people who kill three or more victims in separate events and separate locations, with at least 24 hours between them." Pedantic murderers will be glad to get that straightened out.

* A bunch of professors of medicine have issued a checklist, in the BMJ, of initiatives to combat obesity. Taxing foods that are high in sugar or saturated fats; insisting that all new urban roads have cycle lanes - stuff like that. But what about their recommendation that all clothes with a waistline of 40in (men) or 35in (women) should carry an obesity helpline number? As one who's finding a 36in waist pretty tight these days, I think it's a dreadful idea. Clothes are a joy and a comfort, a second skin, a confirmation of identity. The last thing you want to see on some new chinos is a tag saying, in effect, "Government warning: You are a fat bastard and you're going to die of heart failure."

* Congratulations to Fergus Drennan of the BBC's new Road Kill Café, for the week's Most Off-Putting Foodie Advice. On his chatty blog, he writes: "If you pick an animal up and it is as stiff as a board but still plump and fresh looking, this is a good sign. Also, if on a cold day the animal feels warm then, clearly, this is a strong indicator of recent death. Bad signs include: dull looking eyes, rotten smell, visible maggots or fly eggs around the eyes mouth/beak, rupture of the intestines, signs of sickness, or, suspicious death." Just don't do it, OK? If there are visible maggots on your badger, just don't eat it, comprende? Thanks for that, Fergus.

* Are cricketing nicknames improving? In olden days, British sportsmen were give pet names by team-mates simply by adding a Y to their surname, as in Graham "Goochy" Gooch - a rather leaden kind of informality. Things are better now. Monty Panesar is known as "the Sikh of Tweak" for his ability to make the ball bounce at crazy angles. I'm happy to discover that despite the fluctuations of his form, the bowler Steve Harmison is known as "Grievous Bodily Harmison" for his ability to scuttle out whole Test sides. But while the nation's press tries to find the right nickname for the Ipswich killer - the Suffolk Strangler? - I have to congratulate whoever had the bad taste to come up with "The Suffolkator".

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