QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

Catastrophe at China park prompts inquiry

CHINA: Authorities at a famous Beijing park are investigating the mysterious deaths of stray cats in recent weeks.

A park spokesman said the Temple of Heaven park has stepped up patrols in an effort to prevent more deaths and carcasses from being dumped inside.

Dozens of protesters, however, have rallied outside the park, accusing park authorities of killing the cats.

The spokesman denied the park has been killing the cats.

The park is a Unesco heritage site where emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifices.

Biplane bid

SOUTH AFRICA: A woman is flying from South Africa to southern England in a biplane to honour a British aviation legend.

Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 51, will retrace Lady Mary Heath’s trailblazing 1928 journey from Cape Town to Goodwood in Sussex.

Lady Heath was the first pilot, male or female, to complete the 7,000 mile flight.

Ms Curtis-Taylor said she felt a bit more comfortable in her own vintage Boeing Stearman biplane.

She said: “It’s a little bit bigger and more stable than the one Lady Heath flew but very much in the spirit — all stick and rubber stuff.”


BRITAIN: Parents are planning to cut back on Christmas parties and nights out so they can spend more on presents for their children, according to a new study.

A survey by the Co-op found that around £145 (€171) will be spent on presents for each child this year, 10% more than a year ago. The poll of 2,000 adults also showed that most mothers would splash out more if they could afford to.

The research revealed that people will spend an average of £336 on Christmas this year, slightly less than last year despite the extra money on children’s presents.


GERMANY: More than 20,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the west German city of Dortmund after authorities found a massive bomb left over from the Second World War.

The 4,000lbs (1,800kg) bomb was discovered after experts analysed old aerial photographs while searching for unexploded ordnance dropped by Allied aircraft over Germany’s industrial Ruhr region.

City authorities were defusing the bomb.

USA: Hallmark Cards has apologised for changing a word in a well-known Christmas carol from “gay” to “fun” on a holiday ornament.

The Kansas City-based company created an ornament for its Keepsake line depicting a miniature sweater bearing the words “Don we now our fun apparel,” instead of the lyric “Don we now our gay apparel” from the Christmas carol ‘Deck the Halls.’

“We’ve been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we’re sorry to have caused so much concern,” Hallmark said in a Twitter posting on its website on Thursday.

“We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products, and in hindsight we realise we shouldn’t have changed the lyrics on the ornament,” it said.

Hallmark did not say where negative reaction to the ornament came from, but a leader of one Kansas City gay rights organisation said on Friday that the company went overboard in using the word “fun” on the ornament.

“The whole thing seems silly to us,” said Mitch Levine, community ambassador of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City.

“No one was offended by that in the song and the change was not necessary.”


Kate Tempest’s Vicar Street show began with the mother of all selfie moments. The 33 year-old poet and rapper disapproves of mid-concert photography and instructed the audience to get their snap-happy impulses out of the way at the outset. What was to follow would, she promised, be intense. We should give ourselves to the here and now and leave our phones in our pockets.Kate Tempest dives deep and dark in Dublin gig

Des O'Sullivan examines the lots up for auction in Bray.A Week in Antiques: Dirty tricks and past political campaigns

Following South Africa’s deserved Rugby World Cup victory I felt it was about time that I featured some of their wines.Wine with Leslie Williams

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