Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

A Stranger's London

High on the shop

Classes are being set up in California along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous, to cater for a bizarre consumer-age spin-off - shopping addiction.

This new disease is breaking up families, and driving many women to the brink of suicide, but as yet is largely unrecognised by medical authorities.

"This is as serious as any other addiction". says Los Angeles psychiatrist Dr William Rader. "They are buying, buying. They don't need the goods. They don't even want them. Afterwards they are stricken with remorse and bills some of them and their families just can't face. "Shopping is a secret compulsion and most people aren't aware of it. It tends to be viewed benignly but it can and has become a terrible addiction for some people and not just the rich. They just can't stop".

On Manhattan's Second Avenue, a shop bulges with clothing. Many items still have labels attached. The shops exist to resell clothes for charities, but some have ended up catering for 'shopaholics'.

Luxury trip for stowaway children

Two young stowaways have been enjoying the high life aboard the P&O liner Oriana.

Paul Broderick, ten, and Sandra Neilson, 14, boarded the luxury ship just before she left Sydney, Australia. They were soon discovered but the captain decided it was not worth turning back. They were handed over to the ship's hospital sister and will stay on board until the Oriana reaches Fiji. Then they will be flown home.

Ban church weddings says vicar

A vicar has told parishioners he wants them to marry in register offices instead of church.

The Rev Peter Beech, of Holy Trinity Church, Wanstead, London, said in his parish magazine that he would personally prefer all weddings to take place in register offices - with only committed Christians going on for a church blessing.

He said most couples wanted a church wedding only because it was customary.

The car that drove its owner crazy

The other woman in Glyn Richards' motoring life is driving him crazy with her lies. The talking computer in his £8,500 MG Montego has never told the truth since he bought the car six months ago, he says.

His micro-chip mistress with the cool, feminine voice is just a tease. She tells him of non-existent faults, but keeps mum about the real ones, he claims.

The visual display is no better. Within minutes of collecting the car it flashed up: This car needs a service. It didn't.

Since then, Mr Richards has been alerted to faulty brakes, failing lights and dangerously low oil pressure which were nothing of the sort.

But never a word when he has forgotten to release his handbrake or failed to close the doors properly.

It isn't as if there's a shortage of real faults to report. Oil leaks, loose bolts, engine cut-outs... Mr Richards says he has experienced the lot.

What with the false alarms, the real repairs and attempts to get the £350 computer to tell the truth, Mr Richards reckons the car has been off the road for half the time he's had it. And he's only clocked up 3,000 miles!

Boy saves his mother

Six-year-old Jimmy Roland picked up a rifle that was almost as big as he was and pointed it straight at the masked desperado holding a knife at his mother's throat.

"You turn my Mommy loose," he warned, "or I'll kill you". His gaze never wavered, even though there was now two of them facing him, intruder and accomplice standing side by side.

The young Oklahoman racked the lever of his old .22, just as his Pa had shown him, in case they thought he was bluffing. He was.

His gun was empty but they never suspected it. They let his mother go and fled as if for their lives. Jimmy's mother wasn't the only one to be saved by his bravado. There were five children in the house and Sheriff Paul Abel said that if it hadn't been for this little hero "we would have had a massacre".

Dead son 'move'

A father who believed he saw his dead baby son come back to life was mistaken, an inquest heard.

Movements in the child's limbs were involuntary spinal reflex actions and muscle spasms, said pathologist Dr Edward McKie. Although the infant also appeared to gasp, this was caused by muscle movement in the chest without any breathing.

The child, born prematurely to Mrs Hjra Makda, weighed only 11b, measured 11 inches and died within an hour of being delivered, he told the hearing at Leicester.

Mr Makda's husband Ismall of St Peter's Road, Leicester, thought he saw signs of life as the baby, their first, was being prepared for a Muslim funeral. He rushed the baby back to Leicester General Hospital.

Hospital staff said there was no heartbeat and no sign of breathing but staff nurse Susan Jones said: "I noticed the baby move his arms and head and make a noise".

A verdict of death by natural causes was recorded.

His picture gave him up

A man who did not want his wife to know that he had won £3,645 from a betting shop after correctly predicting price increases in the recent budget was exposed in the Mirror newspaper.

His picture was taken as he hurriedly left the betting shop with his winnings, saying: "I don't want my wife to find out I've won".

Bookie Keith Little paid cash, as requested, to the mystery man who staked £270 at odds of 14-1 and correctly forecast the budget increases in car tax, petrol, cigarettes and spirits.

Keith said at his shop in Chingford, London: "He was trembling as I counted the money. I tried to put him at ease by chatting, but he didn't want to know. He would only say he was from Gloucestershire, had a couple of kids and had just one bet a year".

Long-range view

A South African colleague in London, concerned at the appalling violence over the past few days in his own country, telephoned his family in Port Elizabeth, which is only 15 miles from where police shot dead 19 blacks. He was somewhat startled when his mother answered and said immediately: "We've been watching television pictures from London. It's dreadful, all those football hooligans. Do be careful." - Daily Mirror Diary

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