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Diamond geezer


Thursday 29th March 2007


The family of a Blackpool man who died suddenly have had his remains turned into a diamond.

Mick Egan's wife Susan decided she wanted a different kind of memorial after he died of a brain haemorrhage last year.

The stone took 24 weeks to create and arrived the day before daughter Celeste's wedding - allowing her to go down the aisle with her father.

"We think he would have loved the idea," she told BBC News.

"It was emotional but it was nice emotion because I was pleased that it had happened and that I could have something of my Dad to take down the aisle with me."

The family wanted a unique way to remember Mr Egan and turned to an American company to create the synthetic diamond.

The process involves extracting carbon from the ashes of a loved one, before heating it to extreme temperatures to convert it into graphite.

Rough diamond crystal is then created in the special presses before being cut to the family's specifications.

"We had to have a blue one because my husband's eyes are blue. I never visualised that it would be so beautiful until it arrived," said Mrs Egan.

"He is my diamond geezer now. It was the right thing to do and it just brings me so much comfort that I've got it now to last forever."

    Diamond geezer, A, 09:39 Thursday 29th March 2007,






Dogs use cash machines


09:03 Friday 2nd March 2007


Dogs are being trained to use cash machines for their disabled owners.

They insert and withdraw cards at ATMs to help owners in wheelchairs who are not able to reach.

A spokesman for charity Canine Partners, which trains the dogs, said: "They put in the card and take it out and take out the money and give it to the person in the wheelchair.

"They can't put in the Pin but a person in a wheelchair can go sideways on and do that."

Up to 30 dogs are trained each year and the charity is hoping to double that figure next year.

It takes two years to train them, in which time they also learn to load the washing and pick up items from shop shelves.

The cash machine scheme was started by chance when Gulf War veteran Allen Parton was at a cash machine with his labrador Endal.

Wheelchair-bound Mr Parton was struggling to retrieve his cash when Endal jumped up to reach for the card, money and receipt with his mouth.

He said: "It was amazing, as he had never been taught to do this."

    Dogs use cash machines, A, 09:03 Friday 2nd March 2007,






World's biggest burger


08:28 Wednesday 28th February 2007


A US restaurant has come up with the world’s biggest burger - weighing a staggering 123lb or 8st 11lbs.

It's made up of an 80lb beef patty, along with 1lb each of lettuce, ketchup, relish, mustard and mayonnaise.

Other ingredients include 160 slices of cheese, five onions and 12 tomatoes. It is topped with banana peppers and 33 pickles then sandwiched into a 30lb bun.

The burger has more than 120,000 calories, reports the Sun.

Pub owner Denny Leighey, of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, created it for a charity event but plans to charge £193 for similar burgers.

He posed for photos with the local mayor to show the burger’s size.

The restaurant already held the record for the world's biggest burger, with a 105lb version.

The previous largest burger was 105lb.

    World's biggest burger, A, 08:28 Wednesday 28th February 2007,






Owl terrorises Middlesbrough


08:14 Wednesday 10th January 2007


A giant owl is terrorising shoppers and drinkers in Middlesbrough town centre.

The bird, capable of taking foxes and small deer, launches itself off high roofs and swoops on passers-by, reports the Sun.

The eagle owl, which has a 5ft wingspan, set up home on the roof of Middlesbrough train station in September - but turned nasty over Christmas.

Craig Smith told how the bird swooped on him from behind as he ran through the station car park to catch a train.

He recalled: "I heard a loud woo-woo noise and looked over my shoulder to see this creature with silver wings, claws stretched out.

"I ran as fast as I could on to the platform and it flew away. On Christmas Eve I saw it go for a man coming out of a pub and chase him down the street."

Another victim dad-of-four Mark Fryett, 40, said: "I was leaving work when I heard a hoot and a whoosh and saw this big white face coming at me. I put my arm up and hit its wing and it fell on the floor, but got up again and flew off.

"I was really shaken up. It was like something out of Harry Potter - I thought it was going to pick me up! I went home and called police, but I think they thought I was drunk."

Rachael Stewart, of the Kirkleatham Owl Centre in Redcar, North Yorks, said: "We think it must have escaped from a travelling show.

"Volunteers have tried to catch it a couple of times. It's not dangerous to people but it will have to hunt to survive. It could easily kill a cat or small dog."

Owl terrorises Middlesbrough, A, 08:14 Wednesday 10th January 2007,






Many Brits prefer long life to sex


13:54 Friday 22nd September 2006


Four out of ten Britons would be prepared to give up sex if it meant they could live to be 100, according to a new poll.

Almost half of the women asked in the Bupa survey said they would take up celibacy to reach the milestone .

However, only 31% of men said they would be prepared to sacrifice nookie for a telegram from the Queen.

Many people - 39% - would be prepared to give up eating and drinking whatever they wanted to ensure they lived to 100, while 42% would give up travel.

But there were some things people would not give up - 94% would not be ready to give up the company of friends and family for a long life, and 74% would not sacrifice money.

The Ipsos MORI research of more than 1,000 adults reveals that if we had a choice, we only aspire to live on average to 85.

Unsurprisingly, young and old people were divided on when old age begins. The 16-24 year olds see it as starting at 61, while those 75 and over said it began at 71.

But nearly half agreed scientists should continue to keep trying to prolong people's life spans.

When asked about the main advantages of science being able to extend life, 16% said to be there for family and friends and 14% to see grandchildren grow up.

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, Bupa's medical director, said: "Britain is facing an ageing time bomb with major challenges presented by retirement, the desire to live longer and the increasing burden of caring for older people."

    Many Brits prefer long life to sex, A, 13:54 Friday 22nd September 2006, 






World's most expensive marmalade


08:23 Friday 22nd September 2006


A jam maker has marked its 125th anniversary by producing the world's most expensive marmalade.

F Duerr & Son's Fine Cut Seville Orange Marmalade with Whisky, Champagne and Gold costs £5,000 a jar.

That means it would cost an estimated £76 to spread on just one slice of toast, reports the Telegraph.

It contains finest Seville fruit with vintage Dalmore 62 whisky from Whyte & Mackay, valued at £32,000 per bottle, Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1996 vintage champagne and flakes of 24-carat gold leaf.

The Manchester-based firm's special marmalade is encased in a custom-made crystal jar valued at £1,100.

Managing director Mark Duerr said: "It's unbelievably good - we tasted it at a board meeting last week for the first time, and were amazed. The whisky comes through immediately. The champagne's more subtle."

The initial plan was to make the exclusive preserve a one-off production, with the one-kilo jar being auctioned on eBay to raise money for the Manchester Kids charity.

However, Duerr's has been so impressed by the taste that it is considering making a more affordable version as a normal product.

World's most expensive marmalade, A, 08:23 Friday 22nd September 2006, http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2005909.html?menu=






Man jumps from 50t bridge

after banknote


12:44 Thursday 21st September 2006


A homeless Florida man jumped from a 50ft bridge into a river after a $20 banknote blew out of his hand.

Mark Giorgio, 47, of Palmetto, leapt into the mile-wide Manatee River and swam 100 yards to reclaim his money, reports the Herald Tribune.

He was fished from the river and taken to shore by a passing Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat.

"I got my money back, hell yeah," a soaking wet Giorgio said as paramedics checked his pulse. "Twenty bucks is a lot of money when you're broke."

Giorgio said he lost the bill - worth about £10.50 - while counting his money as he walked across the bridge.

He suffered a couple of cuts and refused medical treatment after his jump.

    Man jumps from 50t bridge after banknote, A,
12:44 Thursday 21st September 2006,






71 languages spoken at school


07:53 Thursday 21st September 2006


A Secondary school in London has pupils that speak in 71 different languages.

Southfields Community College in Wandsworth, has pupils from around the world and speak no English.

The school has 1,300 UK and foreign pupils aged 11-18 - and 550 of these arrived in Britain speaking no English.

The pupils were first given a crash course in English before being slowly introduced into mainstream classes,

Among the languages spoken are Arabic, Kurdish, Farsi (from Afghanistan) Kazak (Kazakhstan), Croatian, Zulu (South Africa), Swahili (Kenya) and Krio (Sierra Leone).

According to The Sun Headteacher Jacqueline Valin said: "We've had an increase in the number of pupils from abroad but there has never been a problem with the racial mix.These children have a burning desire to learn."

Despite the language barrier the school’s exam results are improving.

The proportion of pupils getting five Cs or better at GCSE rose from 27 per cent in 2002 to 38 per cent last year.

    71 languages spoken at school, A, 07:53 Thursday 21st September 2006,






Hotel chain offers beds for pets


12:12 Wednesday 20th September 2006


One of Britain's biggest hotel chains has decided to offer pets their very own beds.

Travelodge says the move is aimed at customers who cannot bear to be parted from their cats and dogs.

The special 2ft 6in long by 2ft wide pet beds will be tried out at hotels in Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool, Birmingham and Nottingham.

It comes after a survey of Travelodge's customers showed almost two thirds hated leaving their pets behind when they were away from home.

Wayne Munnelly, Travelodge's sleep director, said: "For a long time, we have allowed customers to bring their cats and dogs with them when they stay with us.

"Now we are adding a little bit extra for those who want to spoil their furry friends by giving them their very own bed.''

Guests will be allowed two pets per room at a cost of £10 each per stay.

    Hotel chain offers beds for pets, A, 12:12 Wednesday 20th September 2006,






Woman, 79, tried to hold up bank


10:38 Friday 8th September 2006


A 79-year-old woman was arrested in Chicago after she tried to hold up a bank at gunpoint.

She wore a white visor that read "princess" and black sunglasses when she tried to hold up the bank with a toy gun.

The Chicago Sun-Times says she could be the oldest woman ever charged with bank robbery in the city.

An FBI agent's affidavit says she walked into a Bank of America branch and told a female cashier she could not speak very loud because she had just come from the dentist.

When the cashier leaned forward, the woman pulled out what appeared to be a gun and said: "Give me $30,000. My friend is across the street. And no dye."

However, the cashier reached into her drawer and activated a silent alarm before walking away from the counter.

The robber waited a few minutes then walked out of the bank, ditching her trench coat as she left. A bank employee flagged down a police officer who arrested her outside.

    Woman, 79, tried to hold up bank, 10:38 Friday 8th September 2006,






Taxi driver's sat nav gaffe


08:19 Tuesday 5th September 2006


A taxi driver drove two teenage girls 85 miles in the wrong direction after keying the wrong name into his sat nav.

The girls asked the cabbie to take them from Bournemouth to Lymington, Hampshire - but ended up in Limington, Somerset, reports the Dorset Echo.

The East European taxi driver asked them to write down the address of the caravan park, then entered what they had written, 'Limington', on his car's satellite navigation system.

"He put it into his satnav and away he went. He thought he was doing the right thing," said United Taxis' manager Barry Gill.

After a 90-minute taxi ride he dropped the girls at a caravan park in Yeovil - three miles from Limington - and drove off after charging them an £80 fare.

The girls, from Plymouth, Devon, only realised they were in the wrong place after asking bemused locals where they could find their New Forest campsite.

Mr Gill added: "It was then they made contact with us and said: "We think we've been dropped in the wrong place"."

He immediately sent another car to pick them up and take them to Lymington.

"We kept in touch with the girls to make sure they were totally safe, and I personally phoned the father every half hour," said Mr Gill.

He said the original driver, who has not been named, had been made to refund the girls' taxi fare and the cost of sending out the second car and driver.

    Taxi driver's sat nav gaffe, Ananova,






Britain's first square-shaped melons


12:31 Friday 4th August 2006


Square-shaped watermelons are to be sold in the UK.

Tesco plans to sell the melons imported from Brazil.

Boxes are placed around the growing fuit which naturally swells to fill the shape.

Tesco exotic fruit buyer Damien Sutherland: "We"ve seen samples of these watermelons and they literally stop you in their tracks because they are so eye-catching.

"These square melons will make it easier than ever to eat

because they can be served in long strips rather than in the crescent shape."

They will go on sale in stores from October for under £5.

    Britain's first square-shaped melons, A, 12:31 Friday 4th August 2006,






Giant bunny attacks veg




Allotment owners have called in armed guards to protect their vegetables - from a rabbit.

The gigantic rabbit is so powerful it can pull prize leeks out the ground - and eat whole rows of onions, parsnips, and carrots.

It's been compared to the 'Curse of the Were-Rabbit', the Wallace & Gromit film about a fearsome bunny that destroys vegetable patches.

Jeff Smith, 63, was first to spot the black and brown creature at the Mouldshaugh Lane allotments in Felton, Northumberland, two months ago.

According to The Sun he said: "It was massive. I thought, 'What the hell is that?' It's no ordinary rabbit - we're dealing with a monster.

"Its prints are huge, bigger than a hare - about the size of a deer's. One ear's bigger than the other. It's a brute.

"The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was a film . . . this is the real thing."

Plot holder George Brown, 76, vowed: "We will nail it."

Marksman Brian Cadman, an assistant gamekeeper on patrol, added: "We've been told to shoot on sight."

    Giant bunny attacks veg, A, 2006,
     Dépêche copiée sur Ananova le 7.4.2006.






Relief for man

who lost wife's $1m purse




A Canadian man lost his wife's designer purse - containing $1,000,000 worth of jewellery - on holiday in California.

But a local man found the purse where he left it, on a park bench, and handed it in to police, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Shahla Ghannadian cried for most of the way home to Toronto after husband Said Khalili lost the purse in Sausalito.

The designer purse contained her Cartier watch, diamond and ruby rings, pearl earrings, necklaces with large diamond stones and $500 cash. In total, it was worth $1 million, the equivalent of £575,000.

But then they got a phone call from Sausalito police saying the purse had been found and handed in by John Suhrhoff, from nearby San Rafael.

"My mom started to cry again and my dad became very emotional, too," said the couple's 28-year-old son, Ali Khalili. "That was a big deal. There are still good people in this world."

Mr Suhrhoff said: "Every person I know or associate with would have done the same thing. I'm glad to be able to help."

    Relief for man who lost wife's $1m purse, A, 2006,
     Dépêche copiée sur Ananova le 31.3.2006.






16-year-old undertaker




A 16-year-old is Britain's youngest undertaker.

Daniel Taylor revealed he wanted to be an undertaker from the age of 13 after seeing a TV documentary.

He has now passed the National Association of Funeral Directors' foundation course and is well on his way to getting a diploma.

Daniel - who works at Mason and Stokes Funeral Directors in Cheltenham, Gloucs has already dressed corpses, led funeral corteges and helped choose coffins for families reports The Sun.

He admits his friends think his choice of profession is strange, he said: "They think it's a bit weird me working with dead people - but I really get a lot out of it. I've never had any nightmares. The worst thing is seeing the family upset. But we all try and help them through by doing a professional job."

His Mum Debbie said: "It is not every child's choice of profession but it is an admirable one. Daniel enjoys everything about it.

"We are very proud of him getting a job and career so early after leaving school. He gets on very well with his bosses."

    16-year-old undertaker, A,
    Dépêche copiée sur Ananova le 21.3.2006.






Twins invent their own language




Identical four-year-old twins have been sent to school early because they have developed their own language.

Luke and Jack Ryan, of Cleckheaton, West Yorks, happily chat away but even their parents struggle to understand them.

Mum Hayley, 25, and husband Richard, 30, cope by recognising some similar sounding words - such as bool for school, choo choo for tissue, Jar for Jack and Wook for Luke.

Hayley said: "I find it hard to understand what they are trying to say but I manage by filling in the gaps.

"The boys are having speech therapy and started nursery school early after advice from a health visitor, but it doesn't seem to be doing much."

Experts say it's not uncommon for twins to invent their own language when they are very young but most quickly grow out of it.

Hayley, who has another son Ben, 14 months, added: "The boys have a real bond, which, I suppose, is emphasised by their language.

"But the reality of the matter is that they will need to speak properly to be able to get on in life."

    Twins invent their own language, A,
     Dépêche copiée sur Ananova le 6.3.2006.






World's biggest burger




A US restaurant has beaten its record for the world's biggest burger with a whopping 15-pounder.

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, already had the title with a 6lb burger.

But owners thought a 15-pound burger would prove an even bigger attraction, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Diners who can finish the £25 burger in under five hours win £200, a T-shirt and have their name posted on the pub's wall of fame.

They also get the burger for free.

"Every restaurant needs a gimmick - ours is big burgers," said Dennis Liegey III, son of the restaurant's owner.

Visitors come from as far away as Australia and California just to see the 6-pounders and try to eat them.

The new burger, dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, is as big around as the inside of a car tyre.

It comes with a cup and half each of mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup, a head of lettuce, two onions, three tomatoes and 25 slices of cheese.

    World's biggest burger, A, premier semestre 2006,




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