QUIRKY WORLD ... Helen Mirren warns Americans not to be ‘pillocks’

USA: Helen Mirren has made an advert for Budweiser warning Americans not to be “a pillock”.
QUIRKY WORLD ... Helen Mirren warns Americans not to be ‘pillocks’

The 60-second commercial advising against drink-driving will be screened during Sunday’s Super Bowl, the showpiece American Football final.

In the advert, the 70-year-old delivers a speech as a regal soundtrack plays in the background in a reminder of her Oscar-winning role as Elizabeth II in The Queen.

Describing herself as a “notoriously frank and uncensored British lady”, Mirren is heard likening drink-drivers to winners of the Darwin award who are “honoured” for dying in a foolish manner.

“The collective ‘we’ are dumbfounded that people still drive drunk,” she says.

“I’ll sum it up like this: if you drive drunk, you, simply put, are a short-sighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting, human form of pollution, a Darwin award-deserving, selfish coward.

“If your brain was donated to science, science would return it. So stop it. The chances are you’re a fun, solid, respectable, human being. Don’t be a pillock!”

The word is not in common usage in the US so some reports have also included a description.

CNN, for example, said “pillock” is “an obscure English insult, meaning fool or stupid person”.

The average 30-second Super Bowl spot is commanding as much as $5m (€4.5m), according to Forbes magazine.

Budweiser is among the advertisers willing to pay for a slice of the impressive audience. An average of 114.4m people watched the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in 2015,

In the name of the father

USA: Los Angeles police have arrested a man they say posed as a priest, officiated at Masses, funerals, and even a wedding, and sold thousands of dollars in phony tickets to see the Pope.

Erwin Mena was arrested on Tuesday and remains jailed on dozens of criminal charges that include grand theft and committing perjury by filing a marriage licence as a priest.

The Los Angeles Times says he declined to comment following his arrest.

Authorities say Mena has posed as a priest since the mid-1990s, appearing at parishes in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Stockton, Fresno and Orange counties, then vanishing before Catholic authorities could act.

Last year, he allegedly swindled some two dozen people by selling them — for cash — phony pilgrimages to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia.

Yawn fest

ITALY: Yawns are twice as “catching” in women as they are in men, a study has shown.

The finding can be explained by the fact that women are the more empathic sex, say researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy.

Growing evidence suggests that yawn “contagion” is closely linked to empathy, the ability to step into the shoes of others and understand what they are feeling, and even in higher animals such as apes and monkeys, yawns can be catching.

Crossed wires

USA: Hundreds of south-eastern Mississippi citizens have received jury summons that incorrectly instructed them to call a sex hotline.

Multiple news outlets report that at least 350 jury summons with the incorrect phone number were sent out in Jackson County to potential jurors.

Circuit Clerk Randy Carney says people started calling the circuit clerk’s office to report the problem.

An apology letter will be sent to those who received the erroneous summons.

Rubbish excuse

USA: Police say a Pennsylvania shoplifting suspect is in custody on charges that he briefly stole a police car.

Springettsbury Township police say the bizarre chain of events began when police responded to a call that 21-year-old Marlo Harvard Jr, of Baltimore, had left a Wal-Mart with some stolen merchandise.

Police say Harvard abandoned the car near a bank and ran into a restaurant and then outside into a rubbish bin. Harvard denied wrongdoing saying: “I hang out in dumpsters all the time.”

Wheels of fortune

ITALY: An Italian dairy co-operative has sold bonds backed by Parmesan cheese, the company said, a rare example of one of the country’s plethora of small firms raising funding on capital markets.

Three years of recession have choked bank lending and the government is trying to encourage firms to raise money elsewhere and take advantage of a tentative economic recovery.

Cheese-maker 4 Madonne Caseificio dell’Emilia has done just that, raising €6m in mini-bonds guaranteed by wheels of Parmesan.

4 Madonne’s chairman said it would use the money raised in the bond issue to improve its facilities and promote the thick-rinded cheese it makes in Italy’s northern gastronomic heartland Emilia Romagna.

More than 95% of Italian companies traditionally rely on bank lending for financing.

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