Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Strangers' Britain

Rich pickings

A wealthy Arab woman stole a £4.99 necklace while she had £14,000 in her purse, a court heard. Egyptian Mrs Rawther Hassanein, 47, in London for heart treatment, told detectives: "I can pay. I'm a rich woman." She was fined £250 with £100 costs at Marlborough St

4,000 birds blasted by royals

Prince Philip and other royal guns bagged 4,000 pheasant during the shooting season at Sandringham. This year's haul, higher than expected, was without the help of keen marksman Prince Charles. Princess Diana hates game shooting and Charles has given his four guns to Prince Andrew. Instead, he has switched to fox-hunting, turning out as often as three times a week. Andrew, Prince Edward, and Captain Mark Philips were among the royals who joined in the bird-blasting.

'Lovers in law' to wed

A woman who wants to marry her stepson was given the go-ahead by the House of Lords. June Owen, 24, sought legal exemption to wed her former husband's 34-year-old son Keith Owen.

The Lords also gave their blessing to Deborah Evans, 27, who wants to marry her former father-in-law George Evans, 58.

A third couple, John Rolfe, 52, and his former mother-in-law Florence Rolfe, 67, also won permission to marry.

Each couple will now be seeking a special Act of Parliament which could help them all to become June brides. So far, only four applications of this kind have been granted. But this is the first time there has been a mass application.

Two cops are bitten by man 'with AIDS'

Two policemen were having urgent medical checks after being bitten by a suspected AIDS victim. PCs Graham Barstow and Michael Foot were arresting the man in Manchester when he shouted:

"I've got AIDS - I'll kill you," and bit their hands.

Preliminary tests showed the man could have the killer disease.

Dying AIDS victim Rachel Townsley, 24, is pleading to be reunited with her baby in prison. Rachel, jailed in Edinburgh last week for stealing a purse, is said to have six months to live. Baby Michelle, six weeks old, is also a carrier of the virus.

A dead driver cops it

A doctor has had his driving licence endorsed by a court. . four weeks after he died. The magistrates knew that 78-year-old Dr William Fielding died last month. But they were told they had to penalise him "because he was not available to give sworn evidence".

Later it was even suggested that the doctor got off lightly. Prosecuting solicitor Aidan Cotter said: "The court had no choice because a conviction had already been reached. The magistrates were merciful in that only the statutory obligatory penalty was imposed. Dr Fielding, of Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was involved in a car accident last June. He admitted two offences by letter.

Cover-up tonic for the nurses

A hospital has brought down patients' temperatures by putting nurses in trousers. Fourteen nurses in the casualty department at Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth, are wearing the all-white trouser suits as an experiment.

The new uniforms are already a hit with the nurses. Sister Marion Carr said: "We chose the design ourselves and the suits are very smart. It is a tremendous break with the tradition but trousers are more practical. Some patients have said they would rather see us in dresses but the suits make it must less embarrassing when we have to bend down and much easier to lift people."

A hospital spokesman said: "We will be taking patients into consideration." Sister Carr added: "The men can think what they like but they will soon get used to the style."

Take a walk in Wotsit Park...

A walk down Lambeth Way will never be the same again. The borough's noted Brockwell Park is to be renamed Zapjanie Mothopeng Park after a jailed South African anti-apartheid campaigner. Well, how about a stroll through Myatts Fields? Sorry, it's to be the Shapurji Saklatuala park now. Shapurji who? He was a celebrated Indian communist. You could cool off with a plunge in Sreatham Baths. Bad luck, it's the Mangaliso Sobukwe pool.

How about Clapham Baths? No, that becomes the Duke Ellington baths. The new names are the idea of Lambeth Council, whose amenities committee chairperson, Sharon Atkins, defended the scheme. "It is not loony at all," she said. "Naming public facilities after eminent blacks will educate the public. But the locals remain unimpressed; "This is typical of Lambeth Council they're a bunch of nutters," said pensioner Ernest Belcher, 73.

And even Lambeth's black mayor, Leon Lloyd, called the plan "ridiculous". "Many black people have rung me up to complain because they can't pronounce the names," he said.

Detective charged with armed robbery

A detective who featured in a TV documentary about a major gangbusting operation has been charged with a £300,000 armed robbery. Detective Sergeant Graham Sayer of Thames Valley police appeared before magistrates at Mansfield, Notts. He was accused of robbing a Post Office van of £307,000 on December 2.

Sayer, 39, was a member of the police team filmed by BBC cameramen when the gang-busting Operation Carter was launched in 1980.

During the operation, screened later in the controversial Police series, the squad arrested more than 30 people who were charged with hundreds of robberies.

Sayer was seen as one of the team which cracked some of the biggest crimes - many of them armed robberies - inthe Home Counties and London.

Operation Carter hinged on the information given by supergrass Roger Dennhart, who turned Queen's Evidence after a lifetime of violent crime. He gave police information about armed robberies totalling more than £5m. These included a £197,500 robbery at the Daily Mirror during which a security guard was shot dead as he tackled the robbers.

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