Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Strangers' Britain

Sorry! We can't read your note

Baby-faced bandit David Morris couldn't believe his bad luck the day he decided on a life of crime.

He was sure shopkeepers would quake with terror when he handed them a grim note saying: "I have a gun in my pocket. I will shoot you if you don't hand over the money." Three times he presented the note to different shopkeepers. And three times he drew a blank.

VICTIM No 1 A girl assistant at a chemist's shop thought it was obscene and refused to read it. VICTIM No 2 An Asian assistant gazed blankly at the words, shook his head and said he couldn't read English.

VICTIM No 3 An assistant in a takeaway food shop said he couldn't read the note because he didn't have his glasses. He asked 21-year-old Morris to wait outside. The boy did as he was told - but police were called and he was arrested.

He told police: "I've been a twit. The judge won't believe anyone could be so stupid."

Unemployed Morris, of High Road, Beckenham, Kent, thought up his get-rich plan while idly waiting for his girlfriend in West Croydon.

Wreaths 'cheer' old folk

Wreaths are being taken straight from funerals to decorate council-run old people's homes.

Many of them still bear "In Loving Memory" messages to the dead. John Garrard, who trains social workers at Rochdale Council, Lancs, and visits residential homes throughout Britain said: "I saw four wreaths used as decoration in one home. It's appallingly insensitive to bring in the wreaths in the first place but leaving the messages on them makes it worse. "It is incredible they should try to cheer old people up in such a way."

A British Association of Welfare Workers spokesman admitted: "This does go on but it's very much against our will."

Sleep on the's official

A factory is paying its workers to fall asleep on the job. With the company's blessing, weary staff troop upstairs to luxury bedroom suites. Then they put their heads down for some well-earned rest while the hours rash tick away and the money mounts up.

The amazing earn-as-you-snooze scheme has been introduced by Jansen Pharmaceuticals Company in Grove, Oxfordshire, to test the effects of drugs on people's sleep patterns.

They are using their own staff as guinea pigs and pay them to sleep at the factory at night instead of going home. The next day there's plenty of work for the staff when they wake up.

Each night's snooze-in produces two- thirds of a mile of paperwork which has to be fed into a computer.

'Jinx' picture in new blaze

A man has died in a blaze linked with a "jinxed" picture.

William Armitage, 65, was killed when fire swept through his bedsit home in Weston-super-Mare, Avon.

Firemen who fought their way through dense smoke to reach him found the picture, a print of a weeping boy, on sale in High Street stores, undamaged in the gutted room. Claims that the picture is cursed follow a series of fires throughout Britain after which copies of the picture have been found in the wreckage.

Cops called out to Policemen's Ball

Carloads of police roared off to sort out a spot of bother at a disco.

They found drunken guests falling about in the foyer. And one high-spirited reveller had set off the burglar alarms. And the whole boozy beano was taking place at their very own "do" inside police headquarters.

Yesterday the bobbies weren't making a song and dance of the affair. But one officer admitted: "Things were getting a bit lively. "It was supposed to be a St Valentine's Day dance but it was more like the St Valentine's Day Massacre. "It's the talk of the force." The dance was held at the Sports and Social Club in Chester House, the headquarters of Greater Manchester Police.

Eleven flights up, on the "command" floor which includes Chief Constable James Anderton's office, they found a tired and emotional policeman sleeping it off. He was a member of the force's "Y" department which deals with complaints and discipline. A police spokesman said: "It was a very embarrassing evening."

Hugs and kisses with Mark bring fiancee Tracey out in a rash.

Love really does hurt teenager Tracey Goodwin her fiancee brings her out in a rash

And if doctors can't beat 19-year-old Tracey's allergy to husband-to-be Mark Davis, the couple will have to sleep in separate beds after their wedding. The love bug was discovered when Tracey woke up one morning to find herself covered in purple blotches. She thought it was German measles and went to the doctor in Wootton-under- Edge, Gloucs, but he was baffled - and the rash was rapidly gettting worse. Tracey, a hairdresser, was rushed into Ham Green Hospital, near Bristol, and put on a drip. They hadn't a clue what was wrong with me," Tracey said.

"They did lots of blood tests and called in skin specialists and came up with the idea at first that it might be due to my pet Old English Sheepdog or the shampoos at the hair salon. They tried everything.

"Then they did some tests on Mark and said I was allergic to him. They think we must be the only couple in Britain to have a reaction to each other."

Girl, 17, jailed for stealing milk

Teenager Katherine Griffiths has been jailed and sent to Holloway Prison - for stealing a pint of milk from a doorstep. The bewildered 17-year-old, who has never been in trouble with police before, is crowded into a cell with a baby batterer and a prostitute.

The solicitor, David Janes, said: "It is an astonishing situation with this young right woman remanded to a prison in such a way.

"She is very distressed and frightened, wondering what will happen next." Katherine, who was living with her boyfriend at a squat in Dover, Kent, was arrested on February 12. She told police she had not eaten all day and was thirsty.

The following morning she appeared before Dover magistrates, pleaded guilty and apologised for stealing.

Katherine had no legal representative in court, and the magistrates remanded her to Holloway for three weeks.

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