Odds and Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
NOVEMBER 15, 1999:
Dateline: England -- English police stormed a raucous late-night birthday celebration in the southwestern town of Crewkerne only to discover the mayor partying with the chairman and vice chairman of the town council's noise abatement committee. The party, held in Crewkerne's town hall, was apparently a 50th birthday soiree for the husband of the noise committee's vice chairman, Angie Singleton. Police were called in after several nearby residents complained about the loud bands and boisterous party guests. Singleton and the noise committee's chairman, Hilary Leamon, both resigned after the clamorous celebration.
Dateline: Italy -- Cemetery groundskeepers in the Italian town of Treviso were stunned to uncover 230 million lire ($125,000) stuffed into plastic bags and hidden in an abandoned grave. The gardeners initially believed criminals had chosen the tomb as a hiding place for their stolen loot and turned the money over to local police. It wasn't long before a middle-aged woman showed up at the police station to claim her cash. Turns out the widower had buried her life's savings in the local cemetery, fearing that her home might be burglarized.
Dateline: France -- A huffy hippo named Komir escaped from its enclosure last Monday in a zoo near Bordeaux and stomped the French zoo director to death as he rode past on a bicycle. The zoo's 62-year-old director, Jean Ducing, had trained the animal himself and often entertained visitors with tricks, such as placing his head inside the hippo's gaping jaws.
Dateline: France -- Yves Feraud, infamous proprietor of the "Chez Francis" beach cafe in Corsica, burned down his own restaurant mere months after the local police firebombed the controversial eatery for the first time. The destruction of the restaurant is merely the latest chapter in a bizarre tale involving cops, criminals and croissants. In the past, Feraud had defied court orders to respect the island's coastal protection laws and demolish his restaurant. In April, an elite police squad did the job themselves by torching Chez Francis under cover of darkness. Unfortunately, the gendarme arsonists were discovered, and a formal government investigation was launched. Amid the resulting confusion and accusations of police corruption, Feraud simply rebuilt his restaurant to take advantage of the lucrative summer tourist season on Corsica. Now that the summer is over and authorities have once again issued an ultimatum, Feraud has taken it upon himself to toe the line and defiantly torch his own restaurant -- again.
Dateline: Japan -- Adding a further definition to the term "fashion victim," Japan's latest clothing craze has resulted in a second death this year. Authorities are blaming platform shoes as the cause of a car crash that claimed the life of a 25-year-old female office worker last Monday. Apparently, the three-inch heels she wore prevented her from using the brake of her vehicle. Earlier this year, a 25-year-old nursery school teacher was found dead in her car after reportedly suffering a skull fracture from toppling over in her five-inch platform sandals earlier in the day. Health experts in Japan have long warned of the possibility of painful foot and back injuries caused by the country's current obsession with shoes and boots reaching as high as 12 inches.
Dateline: Iowa -- Workers assigned to a $71 million remodeling project at Iowa's historic statehouse will have to continue without benefit of soldering or welding equipment after starting two separate fires there in less than a week. The most recent fire started last Monday when a worker soldering copper onto the building's southeast dome set fire to the wood underneath. Some 350 employees were evacuated, but no one was injured. "Work with torches will be discontinued until we get some assurances that this isn't going to happen again," announced State Fire Marshal Roy Marshall. Preliminary estimates have placed Monday's damage at $10,000.