Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

A Stranger's London

Dog 'Held for ransom'

A top horsewoman's pet dog was snatched and held hostage in a bizarre blackmail bid, a court heard recently. Divorcee Jean Claydon was phoned by her former lodger David Pearce and told to hand over £2,000 if she wanted her Yorkshire terrier, Barney, back. It was claimed at Chelmsford Crown Court. Pearce, of Offley, Hertfordshire and mother-of-four Marion West deny stealing the dog and demanding £2,000 with menaces. The trial continues.

Killers on our plates

The British Medical Association has published a report showing that a number of healthcare organisations hold shares in firms connected with tobacco.

The British Heart Foundation had over 10,000 shares in Grand Metropolitan. That is primarily a hotel and betting group. Its connection with smoking is remote according to certain sources. Yet the British Heart Foundation promptly announced that it would sell its Grand Metropolitan shares.

Burger butcher 'horror'

Shocked diners watched last weekend as a coW was "slaughtered" in a hamburger restaurant. The stunt, involving a butcher with a rubber meat cleaver and a pantomime cow, was staged at a McDonald's in Bournemouth, Dorset, by members of the Animal Liberation Front.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself London Greenpeace picketed MacDonald's restaurants nationwide. The international environmental group, Greenpeace said they had nothing to do with the protest.

Misery over mum's money

Problem: My father has a money problem. It isn't that we're poor - we're quite well off but he accuses my mother of hiding her money from him.

She works and when they have these arguments she starts to cry, which upsets me. They don't talk, and then they make-up and are happy until another argument starts. I'm afraid one day they'll split up. I don't want them to because I love them both. What can I do? I'm 14 and so unhappy.

Agony Aunt's Answer: All parents quarrel about something and all people have their funny little quirks that make them behave badly . . . So relax and next time they start, tell them to give over because it makes you unhappy.

Quasimodo's television advertisement

"Hunchback Quasimodo" reported The Sun, "has dropped a clanger in his "It's for You-hoo" TV commercial for British Telecom.

The ugly bell-ringer is seen receiving a romantic phone call from his dream girl Esmeralda. But sharp eyed viewers have pointed out that Quasimodo was stone deaf.

A tongue-in-cheek spokesman said "Quasimodo is obviously using one of our special phones for the hard-of- hearing. "They have high-technology inductor couplers in them which amplify the sound."

Actor Malcolm Terris plays TV's Hunchback of Notre Dame - a role made famous by film star Charles Loughton. "Perhaps Quasimodo picks up the vibrations in the air as he did with bells in Victor Hugo's original story,' Malcolm said.

Ten-year-old Julian Garbutt has also spotted a blunder in the BT commercial starring Neptune - the ship's sails are billowing the wrong way.

Stud farmer to be a dad at 75

Sprightly grandad Charlie Wyatt is going to be a father again at 75. Charles who used to run a stud farm, was given the great news by his wife, Ann, 37, on his birthday.

At the weekend the delighted dad-to-be said: "I'm the luckiest man in Britain. Charlie already had seven children aged between 39 and two and six grand children.

Ann and Charlie hit the headlines when they defied her angry parents to wed in 1967. He was a widower of 56 with three children and she was an 18-year-old local beauty queen.

Within a year Anne was expecting Robert, now 17. Then came Margaret nine, Hedley, four and Sam, two.

A dream trip for Mr Snores

A man with the loudest snore in the world has been offered an all expenses paid trip to Japan - to fall asleep. Mel Switzer, 46, will get his dream holiday for simply spending a day being studied by university boffins who want to examine his world beating snore.

He will also appear on Japanese TV and get nearly £1,000 spending money. Amazing Mel - who snores as loud as some pneumatic drills - said "I can't think of an easier way of making a living.'

Mel will be accompanied by his wife Julie. Despite his snores, she always gets a good night's rest. She is deaf in one ear and sleeps on the other.

Heads you lose

Football can damage your brain - this is the belief of a member of the medical panel of the International Football Federation, FIFA. "Players should try to decrease the number of times they head the ball, or risk possible brain damage," said Professor Vojin N. Smodlaka, of the State University of New York College of Medicine.

He has estimated that players head the ball an average of five times per match, or 5,250 times in a 15-year career, (not counting training) and has heard complaints of headaches, neck pains, insomnia, weakened memory, and abnormal alcohol reactions.

A Harley Street neurologist confirmed this. "The glancing header would have the same torsional impact on the brain as a glancing blow from a boxer, and the combined forces involved in heading back a ball travelling directly towards you are considerable. The point to remember, though, is that the problem is different from boxing. Footballers are trying to get the ball in the net: boxers are trying to cause each other brain damage."

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