Another year ends, and as usual, everyone is depressed, or drunk, or both. And those who aren’t still idealistic enough to make New Year resolutions lists are busy making Last Year recollections lists. While 2005 has been a particularly sad year, full of calamities natural and man-made, there’s always room for both hope and happy memories; in that spirit, here is a collection of the most inane, insane and insignificant things that happened this year. The little bits of information crammed into unfilled corners of your newspaper, which, brought together, should make a little jigsaw that shows you how weird, wonderful and worth living life is.
The year got off to a fairly conventional start. In January, Swiss businessmen launched Queer Beer, aimed at gay people and a toilet paper roll refused by the Beatles was auctioned.
Things got a little stranger in February, when Ramesh Kumar from Coimbatore made a Guinness book bid by eating 50 cockroaches in a minute, a German zoo decided to allow same-sex civil unions among penguins after attempts to tempt male German gay penguins by importing luscious Swedish females failed, a German thug got knocked out trying to mug an 88-year-old boxing champion and Tom Jones asked female fans to remove price tags before throwing underwear at him.
In March, Nazir Mohammad threw a slipper at a judge in a Baroda court, and the judge replied with a paperweight. Savita from Jaunsur Babar gor married to a clay pot, and an Austrian-Arab company started making camel milk chocolates. In April, a merman was spotted in the Caspian Sea, a Darth Vader impersonator was arrested in the UK for not wearing a seatbelt, and thousands of toads exploded spectacularly and mysteriously in Hamburg parks. A woman gave birth as part of a German art exhibition, and Rajesh from Latki, Jharkhand, spent two days in a well to persuade his parents to find him a bride.
In May, a chicken with four working legs was born in Romania, a Colombian city introduced a law which made gossiping a crime and Gopal Singh, a police constable, was caught picking pockets at an elephant’s rest-house inauguration ceremony in Jaipur.
In June, things got serious. Orangutan-drawn paintings became a craze in Austria, the Dalai Lama complained about not being able to kill mosquitoes, the Queen bought an iPod, Christina Aguilera’s music was used to break down an al Qaeda suspect in Guantanamo Bay, and an exorcist was called in after a ceiling landed on the head of Romania’s agriculture minister.
July was the strangest month. A toothless man stole toothbrushes in Brazil, an Austrian museum offered free entry to naked people, a statue of the Virgin Mary started to dance in Naples, a British cat turned up for its own funeral, 200 porn movie viewers in Balasore, Orissa, had to do sit-ups publicly and promise never to see porn again, GP Vijaya Kumar, a yoga teacher from Tamil Nadu, attempted to enter record books by swallowing fish and blowing them out of his nose, a young Dutch actress driving to the South Pole on a tractor had her tractor confiscated, a naked German man was arrested for shouting at trees (as advised by his marriage counsellor) and a Russian man impersonating his sister for an examination got expelled because his breasts were too big.
In August, a Brazilian billy-goat gave milk, a 16-year-old British boy invented a hamster-powered mobile phone charger, Superman was spotted flying around in Serbia, comedian Ali G appeared out of the sea on an inflatable turtle and rugby-tackled Pamela Anderson, thus rudely interrupting her dogs’ wedding, a cow was jailed in Colombia for causing a road accident, police in South Africa caught 20 criminals by inviting them to a party, and students of a school in Jambura, near Agartala, locked up lazy teachers for a day.
In September, those Germans invented a thinking beer mat, which calls for a refill when your pint is almost empty and a device for making diesel out of dead cats. A Dutch witch won her battle to make brooms and magic lessons tax-deductible, a Croatian zoo locked up visitors in cages, a parrot that used to shout “Long Live Laloo” at rallies switched sides and rooted for Nitish Kumar, UP resident Barsaatu Lal annoyed his neighbours by eating their mud and a bribe rate chart was found in the Kolkata Police Gazette.
And in October, a Japanese artist was paid £5,000 to drink 48 bottles of beer and fall off a wooden beam. A Japanese women buried herself in a pit in Gwalior to bring about world peace. A hind-leg-walking Japanese poodle was honoured for road safety efforts. A nine-year-old Polish boy brought a live grenade to show and tell and two Bengali brothers were fined huge sums by their village council for keeping a pet ghost.
November. Four police cars took over an hour to catch a teen gang on a donkey cart in Greece. A trial in the UK was abandoned because of a smelly juror. A giant toy penguin held up a German train. A Russian scientist invented remote controlled spy turtles. A lemur was named after John Cleese. And an asteroid was named after a transvestite Bulgarian folk singer.
And in December, a Brazilian town’s mayor tried to ban death, Turkmenistan’s president decided to build a lavish desert zoo to house penguins, a bank robber in Austria was referred to a different counter, Serbian activists were sued for unrolling a 60-foot condom on a monument to promote safe sex, and an escaped prisoner in the US was caught returning to jail with four MacDonald’s burgers.
People complain about the information overload, but I’ve always found that too much information can be a source of great joy if you know how to process it the right way. There are many ways of dealing with too much data – spam filters, remote controls, simple using of the head, and sheer denial. The devil might lie in the details, but so does delight, and if times are dark, there’s nothing like a little absurdity to keep the lights burning. To the people who do strange things, the journalists who find out about them, and the tireless souls at places like the Fortean Times, home of everything paranormal, BoingBoing, the world’s most popular trivia blog, and Ananova, the world’s most bizarre news source, who bring scattered reports together for seekers of the strange, thank you. Happy New Year, everyone, and may things around you get ever weirder.