Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

A Stranger's London

Woman survives jump

A woman survived a 200ft fall from a cliff top only half a mile from where her boyfriend had jumped to his death.

Angela Perkins, 22, of Codnor, Derbyshire, was found with multiple injuries at Matlock and was taken to Derby Royal Infirmary where she was said to be critically ill.

On Monday Timothy Grant, 19, left the flat he had shared with Angela and jumped 300ft from the High Tor at Matlock.

He had been out of work for two years and had pinned a note to his jacket: 'Put it down to unemployment'. Police said: 'He had told her nothing about what he intended to do and it came as a real shock to her. 'She had not realised how depressed he was. They had formed a very strong relationship and she was very upset."

Bee woman plunges 20ft

A grandmother fell 20ft from the balcony of a flat as she tried to get away from a bee.

Mrs Lily Taylor, 63, of Morfa Gardens, Coventry, was on a step- ladder watering flowers in a hanging basket when the bee suddenly flew at her. She backed away in fear and fell three floors, breaking her leg.

Students on rampage after cocktail party

A cocktail party in the historic cloisters of Oxford University ended in a 'barbaric' rampage.

Students caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage, pulling down a marquee, smashing windows and lavatory bowls, and setting off fire extinguishers.

The vandalism at New College followed a three-hour cocktail party attended by 200 guests paying £8 a head. It is believed the damage was caused by visitors from Magdalen College.

No action is being taken against undergraduates.

Twins for exam girl

Schoolgirl Alice Cleal coolly finished her A-level history exam and then dashed to hospital to give birth to twin boys.

Blonde Alice, 18, was not expecting for three weeks, but went into labour in the classroom. Now she and husband Mitch are the proud parents of Kez and Geno, who weighed in at 5lb and 6lb.

Alice, a sixth former at Fishguard comprehensive school in Dyfed, married her craftsman husband 10 months ago. At one time doctors predicted she was expecting triplets.

Her mum, Mrs Mary Paterson, 43, of Newport, said: "It's great news. I'm so happy for Alice." Alice's head- master John Davies said: "Her twins are the talk of the whole school."

A hospital spokesman said both Alice and her babies were doing "extremely well".

Blackmail? That's racist, says lawyer

A black barrister threatened to boycott an Old Bailey trial because he took offence at the word blackmail.

In an angry clash with the judge, defence lawyer Mr Beriston Bryan claimed that the word used in English courts since 1601 was racist.

'If we used the word whitemail I'm sure a lot of people would be up in arms,' he said.

'Blackmail is an evil word and it connotes evil intention. As a black person I do not accept it.'

But Mr Bryan's outburst, during the trial of six black men accused of blackmail, brought a sharp rebuke from Judge Alan Lipfriend. Two other black defence barristers in the trial refused to support Mr Bryan's plea that the name of the charge be changed, but he was not discouraged.

'I shall ask to withdraw from the case if I am forced to repeat the word,' he said. 'I don't mind using the term menaces but blackmail causes tremendous amount of offence to a black people.'


Mr Bryan's opinion was dismissed as 'ridiculous' by the Oxford University Press, publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary.

'He obviously doesn't know much about the history and origin of words," said Miss Elizabeth Knight, an expert in etymology.

When it first appeared in the English language in the 16th century, blackmail meant protection money extorted by freebooting chiefs from small farmers in the border counties of England and Scotland.

Miss Knight explained: 'Mail was Old English for money payment or tax. of making it clear that you were getting Black was just a rather colourful way the money by foul means.

In the Middle Ages, it meant the opposite of light, therefore opposed to God. There is nothing racist about it at all.'

Despite blackguard, blacklist and blackleg, there is also the blackbelt, denoting excellence in karate.

And as Miss Knight was at pains to point out: 'Blackberry is a nice enough word and there is nothing wrong with shoeblack or being in the black financially.'

Silence kills a marriage

The word of ex-policeman George Steer was law. If he didn't get his own way at home he would sulk into silence - for months and months.

But after he barely said a word to his wife Brenda, 62, for nearly 3½ years, a judge granted her a divorce.

Mr Justice Hollis said in the High Court Family Division that Mr Steer was something of a martinet and put his three children, now aged between 22 and 33, on parade before him from time to time.'

There were endless rows when his wife sided with the children in their home at Hayes, Middlesex.

The husband then 'sulked, would not communicate and would not speak.' Often the silence lasted three months.

The couple married in 1950 but since January, 1982, they had separate bed rooms and sitting rooms and ate their meals apart. 'It is perfectly clear that this marriage has unhappily broken down. said the judge

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