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Offbeat stories of the year

Published on 05/01/2009

WORLD – A selection of weird and wonderful stories from 2008:

– A British woman is to divorce her husband after discovering he was having a virtual affair within the online game "Second Life".

– A passionate kiss ruptured a young woman’s eardrum in southern China in what has been dubbed the "kiss of deaf".

– Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin was the victim of a prank phone call by a French-Canadian comedian impersonating French President Nicolas Sarkozy days before the presidential election. After Palin realized the call was a hoax, her campaign staff admitted she was "mildly amused".

– Twin girls who were separated at birth due to a medical error met by chance 28 years later. One of them is now suing the Spanish hospital involved.

– Russians have long used drinking to take the edge off workplace stress: one man’s senses were so dulled he failed to notice a knife stuck in his back by a colleague.

– An 81-year old man in the small Chilean village of Angol shocked his grieving relatives by waking up in his coffin at his own wake.

– New Zealand’s oldest immigrant, 102-year-old Briton Eric King-Turner, sailed into Wellington amid a media frenzy sparked by his decision to retire to the other side of the world.

– Officials in part of the Chinese city of Shanghai launched a campaign to dissuade residents from walking around outside in their pyjamas. The habit emerged when China’s economy began to take off, and people were keen to show that they were rich enough to own luxuries such as sleeping attire.

– A US funeral business that specialises in launching cremated human remains into Earth’s orbit said it had begun taking reservations for also depositing them on the Moon.

– An idealistic young British man with good media skills informed the world that he intended to walk all the way to India without once using money in any shape or form. He gave up at the first hurdle, complaining that officials in the French Channel port of Calais didn’t understand English.

– Welsh-speakers in the town of Swansea were bemused by a road sign which read "I am not in the office at the moment." The text, which should have read "No entry to heavy goods vehicles", had been e-mailed to a translator who was… not in the office at the moment.

– A British woman who celebrated her 105th birthday said the secret to long life was celibacy. Sex was a "lot of hassle", she opined.

– A Cambodian couple seeking a divorce were stumped by their country’s convoluted legal processes. They sawed their house in half.

– "Cooking with Balls" was the subtitle of what a Serbian chef promoted as the world’s first book on testicle recipes. "All testicles can be eaten – except human, of course," said the (male) author.

– A Swiss adventurer lived out the fantasies of many a young boy, and probably quite a few girls, by soaring into the sky on a jet-powered wing. "I felt like a bird," he said, after zooming from Britain to France.

– Bulgaria’s campaign against cannabis went literally to the doorstep of power, after marijuana plants were found growing amongst the flowers outside government headquarters in Sofia.

– A 78-year-old woman who misread instructions at Sweden’s main airport was whisked down a baggage chute when she placed herself, rather than her luggage, on the conveyor belt.

– Emergency surgery saved an Australian python that had swallowed four golf balls, after mistaking them for eggs.

[AFP / Expatica]