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 V.18 No.3 | January 15 - 21, 2009 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: China—Police in the Chinese seaport of Ningbo were called in to settle a lovers’ dispute after a man refused to warm up his girlfriend’s feet. Police officer Xiao Deng said he received two consecutive calls: one from a woman complaining her boyfriend refused to warm her feet, the other from the man saying his girlfriend was too demanding. Xiao went out to the couple’s rental apartment near Ningbo University to try to resolve the conflict but found the couple still engaged in a heated argument, reports Modern Times. “Have you ever seen such a girlfriend? She put her cold legs on my belly, giving me a stomach cramp,” the boyfriend allegedly told the officer. “I asked her to take them away and she said she would only put them there for a short while. I agreed, but after 10 minutes she still had them there, saying it was very comfortable.” Xiao eventually persuaded the boyfriend that it was a man’s job to warm his girlfriend’s feet, but warned the woman not to leave her feet there too long.

Dateline: Germany—Two childhood sweethearts, aged 5 and 6, were stopped by police as they embarked on a plan to elope to Africa on New Year’s Day. The two were “determined to tie the knot under the African sun after seeing a nature documentary together,” said a police spokesperson in Hanover. The pair, identified only as Mika and Anna-Lena, hatched plans for the overseas elopement as their families celebrated New Year’s Eve together. The following morning, as their parents slept, the two joined forces with the bride-to-be’s 7-year-old sister. The wedding party packed their bags complete with swimsuits and sunglasses. As dawn broke, the trio left their houses in the suburbs of Hanover and walked two-thirds of a mile up the road to a tram stop where they caught a tram to the central station. As they waited for a train to the airport, a security guard spotted the three. Concerned for the safety of the underaged travelers, the guard called police. Two officers arrived and managed to convince the kids they would have a hard time getting to Africa with no money and no plane tickets. The children were returned to their parents, and wedding plans are now on hold until at least puberty.

“We want to take them to court so they can explain why they think wearing a calabash is good enough for their safety.”

Dateline: Nigeria—Police in the coastal African republic are trying to get the word out to motorists that pumpkins are inappropriate for use as motorcycle helmets. A recently passed law requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Police in the northern city of Kano said they had stopped several bikers with “improvised helmets” since the law came into effect on Jan. 1. Drivers across the country have staged protests after police impounded thousands of motorbikes because the owners were not wearing helmets. Road safety officials have warned that people wearing calabashes, dried pumpkin shells commonly used to carry water, will be prosecuted. Yusef Garba, the Federal Road Safety Commission commander for Kano, said 50 motorbikes have already been seized in his city alone. “We are impounding their bikes and want to take them to court so they can explain why they think wearing a calabash is good enough for their safety,” Garba told reporters.

Dateline: England—A new primary school in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, has decided against calling itself a “school” because the word is too negative. “One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school,” said head teacher Linda Kingdon. The $7 million Watercliffe Meadow is now known as “a place of learning” rather than a school. “We want this to be a place for family learning, where anyone can come,” added Kingdon. “We were able to start from scratch and create a new type of learning experience.” As a result, there will be no whistles, bells or locked doors at Watercliffe Meadow. Children will be encouraged to wear soft shoes indoors to feel more comfortable, the Telegraph reported last Sunday, just prior to the place of learning’s official opening. “We wanted to deinstitutionalize the place and bring the school closer to real life,” said Kingdon. The Sheffield Star newspaper contacted Marie Clair from Plain English Campaign, a group opposed to the use of “gobbledygook” in public life in Britain. Clair told the newspaper, “It’s laughable. Do they think by changing the name they will change the environment? We all know what the building is. There is this whole political correctness agenda. Using unfamiliar words instead of a simple one, like ‘school,’ will get in the way of children’s ability to learn.” “School” officials insist they have not banned use of the word “school” but have simply stricken it from their signage.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to


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