Ten Bizarre British Stories of 2011

 

The smallest yellow lines in the world (Rex Features via AP Images)

Well here we are, deep in the middle of Nerdist Week, and looking back over an astonishing year for strange items of news. All sorts of strangely noteworthy events have occurred all over the world, and so, to celebrate the British contribution to the list, here’s a brief selection of headlines, which serve to prove that while the British may carry themselves as if they’re cleverer than everyone else, the reality is somewhat different.

World’s Shortest Double Yellow Lines
In Norfolk, in order to clarify that a strip of road of 17 inches wide is not a parking space, the council have painted a set of double yellow lines so small, they’ve qualified for the Guinness Book of Records. Which seems a bit strange, but at least it prevents those pesky cyclists from cluttering up the streets. (via Metro)

Man Has Toe Grafted Onto Thumb
Scottish fisherman Donald Gunn lost his right thumb while at sea when his hand got caught in a rope: an awful injury which affected his life and livelihood. However, pioneering surgeons at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary grafted the second toe from his left foot onto his hand, and now he has a (reasonably) functional thumb again, AND his shoes fit better. (via BBC News)

Man’s Bum Is Inflated By Air Hose
This may sound like the kind of injury you can’t really achieve by accident, but it seems it’s physically possible for a man to be working on the construction of a static caravan, while wearing shorts, and for one of the air hoses hanging from the factory ceiling to swing up his bum and cause grave internal injuries. Certainly that is Gareth Durrant’s story, and who are we to argue? (via the Telegraph)

Latest Scottish Delicacy: Deep Fried Butter
All I can say is that your worst fears about Scottish cuisine may have been confirmed from reading this headline: yes it’s really butter, and yes, it’s really deep fried, in a batter made from the Scottish soda drink Irn Bru. However, do you know where the recipe first came from? America. Well done, everyone!  (via BBC News)

“Hottest Chili Eating Contest” Hospitalises Two Contestants
I know, what could possibly go wrong with a competition to find the person who can eat the hottest chili pepper? Edinburgh’s Kismot Restaurant certainly didn’t realise the extent to which they were playing with fire when they set theirs up. However, it turns out that eating preposterously hot chili peppers is bad for you, and stuff? And if you, like, do it? You might end up in hospital?

I know, it’s almost too complicated to take in, in one go. (via the Mail)

Breastmilk Ice Cream?
Another self-explanatory one. An ice cream parlour called Icecreamists in London’s Covent Garden, began selling a flavor called Baby Gaga, which was made from breast milk. The weird thing is that people complained on health grounds, saying it was unhealthy to eat, despite assurances from the shop that the milk , donated by a young mum called Victoria Hiley, was screened as thoroughly as any medically transplanted fluid, to prevent the spread of infection and disease. And certainly wasn’t any more strange than drinking, say, cow’s milk. (via BBC News)

Coventry Hit By Plague Of Apples
We’re not sure what Coventry has done to displease the Lord, but less than one week ago, a tiny part of Keresley was hit by over 100 falling apples from the sky. Scientists believe it was a low-flying current of air grabbing them from an orchard or nearby apple tree, but we’re not so sure, especially this close to Christmas. (via the Telegraph)

Teen Juror Imprisoned For Taking A Sicky And Seeing A Show
In Manchester, nineteen year old Matthew Banks took a day off his jury duty, having told Manchester Crown Court officials that he was ill. In reality, he travelled down to London in order to see Chicago. Having been held in contempt of court, he’s been sentenced to a fortnight’s stay in a young offenders institute. And quite right too. Everyone knows Billy Elliott is the hottest ticket in town. (via BBC News)

Turner Prize Awards Interrupted By Streaker
It’s a fine old British tradition (albeit one which sort of died out in the ’80s) to rush across a public event in your birthday suit, only to be (ahem) manhandled out by policemen. So in a way it’s heartening to realise that it can still happen, just as it did when Martin Boyce’s big night as the Turner Prize winner was interrupted by a naked-ish man in a tutu, with the words “study this” written on his belly. We don’t know what he wanted, but what a way to ask! (via the Mirror)

Is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Politically Incorrect?
Think about singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and doing the actions. When you get to “like a diamond in the sky,” make the shape with your hands. Now, the thing you need to know is that this hand signal, if inverted and placed low on your body, is both British and American sign language (and Makaton, for children and people with learning disabilities) for vagina.

Apparently this caused a certain amount of genuine concern, that schools are teaching children obscene sign language, despite the possibility of actual confusion being remote at best. (via the Telegraph)

And that’s all the ‘and finallys’ for now. Here’s Jim with the weather…

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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