Here are some more amusing examples of how to fail with real elan…
In a pioneering advance for inter-species communication, two neighbours in south Devon hooted at one another for a year, each thinking the other was an owl.
Neil Simmons had been studying the calls of tawny owls in an oak tree at the bottom of his garden when he decided to attempt conversation with his own periodic hootings. It was not until Fred Cornes moved in next door that his persistence finally paid off.
Success was instant. Nightly for 12 months they both crept into the garden and every single one of their calls was met with an instant and gratifying reply.
They would still be doing this pioneering work but for a chance conversation in which Mrs Simmons was telling Mrs Cornes about how excited her husband gets when the owl hoots back. “He logs each call and is trying to modify his too-whit too-whoo to mimic the other owl.” she explained.
“That’s funny…” said Mrs Cornes and the research project came to an end.
Amid international excitement a new species of mammal was discovered in an isolated area of Vietnam. Known as a ‘tuoa’, this small deer-like creature was hailed by the Vietnamese branch of the World Wildlife Fund as “the biological equivalent of discovering a new planet”.
The animal was found in December 1995. The next month it was eaten by villagers.
Congleton town football club gave its oldest supporter, Fred Cope, a terrific send-off in February 1993. In the programme there was a moving notice announcing Cope’s death at the age of 85 and describing how he had followed Congleton as man and boy. The players lined up in the centre circle for a minutes silence with their heads bowed. Taking his place as usual on the terrace. Cope asked what was happening and it was not until he was shown the programme that he found out.
“The players were already standing on the pitch when we spotted Fred coming in.” said the Congleton press officer, Chris Phillips. It was hurriedly announced that the minutes silence was now, in fact, going to be for England player Bobby Moore instead.
The days are long gone when Giuseppe Lorenzo led the World. Playing for Bologna, he was sent of after a leisurely 10 seconds. To show that our modern world is getting faster Lee Todd was shown a red card after just 2 seconds in a Sunday league match against Taunton East Reach Wanderers. When the referee blew his whistle for kick-off, Mr Todd said, “F— me, that was loud,” and got sent off.
This is was not the fastest, however, because that all-time great, the awesome Chris Glanville, was brought on as a substitute for Deanwood in the Medway Sunday League in December 1996. He was sent off after 1 second for wearing an ear stud, having put only one foot on the pitch.
“The referee told him to take the stud out, but he couldn’t. He’d only just had it pierced,” said John Wren, the secretary of Deanwood. “He was one of our younger second-team players and our manager just wanted to give him a little run out” That mission was very much accomplished.
Even this is not the record, which is jointly held by Keith Gillespie of Sheffield United and Walter Boyd of Swansea City. In separate matches they both ran onto the pitch, immediately lamped an opponent and were sent off. On both occasions the ball was out of play so they were technically dismissed after 0 seconds.
In November 1996 a thief walked into a branch of Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, flashed a gun and demanded money. The shop assistant said he could not open the till without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the assistant said they were not available for breakfast. Frustrated, the thief left.
The greatest crimes are marked by an optimal simplicity that makes it possible to solve them almost immediately. Here are 4 of the best …
1. In January 1997 Michael Coulter was identified the second he stole trainers, three pairs of socks and some boxer shorts from a shop in Cookstown, County Tyrone. At seven foot five, he is Ireland’s tallest man. ‘Shop assistants noticed him immediately,’ a spokesman for the Royal Ulster Constabulary said. ‘He had to bend down coming in.’
2. A German robber burst into a Berlin bank with a pistol and screamed, ‘Hand over the money!’ Staff asked him if he wanted a bag, to which he replied: ‘Damn right, it’s a real gun!’ Sensing that he was deaf, the manager set off the alarm. It was ridiculously loud, but he didn’t seem to notice.’ After five minutes, punctuated by our man occasionally shouting ‘I’m a trained killer’, police arrived and arrested him.
3. In March 2008 Ruben Zarate walked into a clothes shop in Chicago and demanded money. An employee told him that only the manager could open the safe, and he was not there. Mr Zarate then gave them his mobile phone number and asked if the manager could ring him when he got back. When he got the call, our chap returned, briefly repeated his demands and was taken straight to the police station.
4. Henry ‘Headbanger’ Smith was instantly identified as he fled the scene of his crime because he had his name tattooed across his forehead. Running away from a house in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, with a stereo set hidden under a tea towel, he looked so suspicious that a taxi driver phoned the police. Mr Smith later said that his girlfriend did not like the stereo and threw it away.
In November 1993 a glue sniffer broke into a glue factory in Brazil, but he lost all self-control when he saw his favourite and started inhaling directly from the vats. Overcome by fumes, he passed out, lost his balance and knocked over a vat of glue as he fell. By the time he came round he was stuck to the floor and had to lie there until staff turned up for work. A police inspector said of the arrest : “It took twelve of us, including eight firemen, to remove him and we had to take a dozen floorboards into custody as well.”