All stories took place prior to the Coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic.
In a phenomenon known as the Peppa Effect, American parents took to social media with fears that Peppa Pig was turning their children British. Not only were their children speaking with a British accent, but they were also using British English terms such as ‘petrol’ and ‘lorry’ instead of ‘gas’ and ‘truck’.
In 1995, Heinz hid 100 18-carat gold beans in random tins across the UK to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foodstuff. In 2019, one of those beans went to auction and was snapped up by Heinz itself, which has failed to keep one for itself and had been waiting 24 years for one to come on sale.
On the release of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the film was widely accused of blasphemy and many UK councils banned it. This remained in place in Aberystwyth until 2008, when it was eventually lifted by the new mayor, former actress Sue Jones-Davies. She had played Brian’s girlfriend in the film.
Police were called to a potential murder scene when neighbours heard a man repeatedly screaming “WHY WON’T YOU DIE?” and a child crying in the background. It turned out that the man suffered from extreme arachnophobia and his comments were directed at a spider. The incident report concluded: ‘No injuries sighted (except to spider).’
The American rock band Guns N’ Roses sued a brewery for making a beer called Guns ‘n’ Rosé. They said it had caused ‘irreparable damage’ to their brand.
Several months after a consignment of Nike trainers fell off a ship on the east coast of America last year they have become of unexpected interest to scientists. Oceanographers realised that the shoes responded to ocean currents in different ways, according to whether they were left or right shoes. More left shoes that right ended up in Newquay, and more right shoes than left ended up in the Azores.
A Massachusetts man came home to find that someone had broken into his house and stolen nothing at all. They had just cleaned it. He said, “Nothing was damaged, nothing was taken… just arranged in a really creepy way.” Almost every room had been spruced up, and an elaborate origami rose had been made out of toilet paper.
More than 50 billboards across the UK were fitted with cameras and facial detection software. They can identify the age, gender and mood of the passers-by and then show an advert best suited to the individual walking past.
Residents of Jersey feared a feral chicken outbreak. Because there are no natural predators – such as foxes – on the island, escaped chickens were able to breed rapidly, forming gangs of up to 100 birds, which then took to stalking Jersey’s streets, causing traffic chaos and chasing joggers.
In 2016, a team of scientists travelled to Dominica to study the grip strength of local lizards. They returned in 2019, more than a year after Hurricane Maria had struck the Caribbean island, to find – on what may be an example of extremely rapid evolution – that the latest generation can grip onto surfaces ten times more powerfully than their predecessors.
The people of Preston were asked to vote on the city’s best restaurants. Two hundred were nominated but it was a local branch of Nando’s that came out on top. Mark O’Rourke, whose burger restaurant Don’t Give A Fork was the runner-up, said: “It just makes Preston look bad. Not that it doesn’t anyway.”
Matt Carthy, a Northern Irish MEP, discovered his kids were unlocking his laptop by using an election leaflet with his face on it. He wrote that he wasn’t sure whether he should be proud of his children’s cunning or ‘concerned about the sneakiness’.
County judge Robert George sentenced Missouri deer poacher David Berry to a year in prison. He stipulated that, while incarcerated, the offender must undergo a monthly viewing of the film Bambi.
A 50-year-old Nebraskan man was being rushed to hospital with an abnormal heartbeat when the ambulance hit a pothole. It jolted his heart back to a normal rhythm and saved his life.
A man in Salisbury excused himself from jury duty on the grounds that he was scheduled to be the judge in the case in question. His appeal to be excused was rejected at first, and he was told to apply to the resident judge if he still wanted exemption. He replied: “I am the resident judge.”
A woman who ordered a cake with a picture of singer Mariah Carey on it was presented with one that featured Nobel Prize-winning chemist Marie Curie.
Wedding guests who bundled a bridesmaid into a car for a spoof video caused a police chase. Onlookers in Suedlohn, Germany, thought it was a real kidnapping.
A road menace was arrested for causing crashes to lift his mood. Depressed Song Liu, 31, found he was cheered when he saw a car accident outside his home in Liudian, Liaoning province, China. To recapture the feeling, he put rocks in vehicles’ paths – as ‘it made my heart happy’.
Four robbers dressed in armour and carrying swords and axes got away with £17,000 at a medieval costume festival. The dark knights hit one victim with an axe handle in Bitche, near the German border.
A chipped false nail and a dog with a broken leg are some of the so-called ‘emergencies’ clogging up a hospital’s A&E department. Another patient visited Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, Hampshire, complaining he had red eyes – after swimming.
Race-goer Gary Williams was left with money to burn – when his £200 winnings got wet in the rain and he dried them in the microwave. The 59-year-old forgot about the metal strip that runs through bank notes. “I turned my back and it exploded,” said the tiler from Oswestry, Shropshire.
A police officer thought he had busted a fake passport gang after mistakenly believing all the suspects were named ‘Abu Dhabi’. The officer in Stoke-on-Trent confused the names on the passports with the place they flew to Britain from, according to Police magazine.
A bungling service station worker cost his bosses £10,000 when he mistakenly set the pumps to deliver free petrol. Aurelio Padovano’s slip-up was taken advantage of by 60 gleeful drivers at the Total garage in Bergamo, near Milan, Italy, before it was noticed.
Civil servants have been given a licence to pilfer public funds. Staff were told, ‘if you work hard, you can steal a little – but don’t behave like bandits,’ by Shivpal Yadav, public works minister in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Gardener Graham Coe felt a right dope when he grew some plants – that looked just like cannabis. The 67-year-old’s flowers were only innocent cleomes but he was quizzed by the police after neighbours claimed he was running a drugs factory at his home in Chippenham, Wiltshire.
A confused girlfriend thought her beau’s romantic texts laced with Romeo and Juliet quotes were suicide notes. She called police, but her partner was amazed his texts had caused a drama. “She had not heard of Shakespeare and thought the language used was strange,” said a police spokesman in Milan, Italy.
A teddy soared 43km (27 miles) into the air attached to a home-made balloon. It set off from Brighton and landed in Essex, to the delight of record-breaking owner Peter Brown.
More than 50 firemen arrived to put out three smoking sausages. Gerda Wiegand, 71, was confronted by the crews as she carried the burning bangers form her home in Bergisch Gladbachof, Germany. “You don’t know until you get there,” a fire brigade spokesman said.
An inquisitive deer got into hot water after he wandered into a garden and stepped on a pool cover. The buck was stuck in the pool for four hours until firefighters in Colorado Springs built a ramp and guided him along with a rope. He ran off as soon as he was free.
A thief was arrested after being grassed up by the robotic lawnmower he stole. Keith Herron, 30, broke into a car after stealing the Clever Trevor gadget, which sent out SOS signals in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.
A couple waiting for a courtesy shuffle at Dusseldorf airport were astonished when their own car arrived at the pick-up point. Berndt and Korina Becker thought the vehicle was safely parked during their break. Instead, it had been used as a shuttle service for a fornight and clocked up 400km (300 miles).
A hamster which tried to make a break for freedom survived a 3.6m (12 ft) fall from a window ledge onto a car bonnet – and then gave a cat and two police officers the slip. Rolo was caught after one of the PCs threw her hat over him. He was then returned to his owner in Beddington, Surrey.
A romantic was out of luck after pretending to win the lottery to see if his fiancée would still love hi when she learned the truth. Li Han, 29, was dumped by Liu Ming, 22 – who hit him with a pan in Nanping, Fujian, China.
Train passengers have been relieving themselves in photo booths in Switzerland rather than paying to use station toilets up and down the network. Bosses have had to hire extra cleaners.
Nasal cancer patient Bert Eastham will always be able to follow his magnetic prosthetic nose if he loses it – by sticking it on the side of the fridge. The 64-year-old, from Chorley, Lancashire, found the ideal place to keep his replacement nose after previously putting it in his slippers at night.
A circus tiger brought the show to a halt in Kazakhstan when it relieved itself over VIP guests. Male tiger Kesha was asked to perform a trick but lifted his leg and took aim at parents and children in the best seats. The show, in Ekibastuz, paused for a clean-up… and for the laughter to die down.
A homeowner who thought he had rumbled a burglar in the night found a huge bear rummaging through his kitchen cupboards. “It walked right in,” said Shawn Brennan on Ontario, Canada. “Talk about bravado.”
With church numbers dwindling, Pastor Ralf Schmidt turned to sex to boost his congregation. He held an ‘erotic mass’, complete with pornographic illustrations, to reach out to more Christians in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Karl Weiss thought he was doing a good deed by driving over a ‘dead’ deer he had knocked over to a police station. But the animal was only shocked and jumped around his car after recovering. ‘The deer was uninjured but my car was a right mess,’ said Mr Weiss, 67, from Peine, Germany.
A stunned woman has received a parcel addressed to a property in the West Indies. Clyna Merchant has no idea how the package meant for a home on the island of Nevis 8,530km (5,300 miles) away was delivered to her home in Orton Brimbles, Cambridgeshire.
Like many wealthy two-year-old’s, Oreo had a birthday pool party. But her celebrations were different in one respect – Oreo is a dog. She and 20 of her friends enjoyed cake, snacks and a rib-shaped biscuit in a Delhi resort. “It was like having my daughter’s birthday party,” owner Priyamvada Sharma said.
A hungry thief who broke into a sandwich shop was easily caught – police simply followed his trail of crumbs. Benjamin Sickles, 21, was munching stolen crisps as he made his getaway in Pennsylvania.
A farmer was ordered to get rid of the tinkling cowbells worn by his herd after people living in nearby Stallhoften, Austria, complained. “They couldn’t sleep,” a judge said. “They were at the end of their tether.”
Motorists feared a ‘divine judgement’ was headed their way when 24 tons of pilchards covered a road. In fact, a dopey trucker had spilled the load, in Kolobrzeg, Poland, after driving with the back doors open.
Pepe the parrot has long-suffering spitting feathers – because he keeps screeching taxi bookings he picked up from his former home in a cab office. The yellow-headed Amazon shouts things such as ‘taxi for Lidl’, ‘car one’ and ’10-4’ said owner John McAliden, from Glasgow.
Keeping visitors off the priceless antique chairs at stately homes is a thorny problem. But one attraction has solved it – with thistles. The prickly deterrent is used to protect the furniture at Falkland Palace in Cupar, Fife. “The last thing you want after a nice day out is a sore burn.”
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.