Scare Stories Category
Richard Littlejohn: 21 September 2010:
For the past 15 years, this column has made a good living out of elf ‘n’ safety. Now, though, the Government is promising to put an end to the madness, scrapping the stupid rules and risk assessments, and derailing the spiv lawyers cashing in on thecom-pen-say-shun culture.
No one has told Lancaster City Council, which has banned revellers from watching the city’s annual fireworks display from Castle Hill, citing – you guessed – elf ‘n’ safety,
Even though it has taken place for the past 18 years without anyone getting hurt. Looks like there’s still some mileage in it for me yet.
IN today’s Daily Mail scare story, we learn that the Nintendo DS can cause dogs go to berserk and bite your kids. Mad dogs, spoiled children and video games in one story. Oh, manna from heaven. The Mail reports on Saracen the now dead Bull Mastiff (he was put down) and Megan Walker:
A terrified schoolgirl had her top lip torn off by a dog as she played with a computer game.
Megan Walker’s family say a friend’s bull mastiff cross went berserk when it heard barking on a Nintendo DS game.
It dragged Megan, nine, off a sofa as she played the virtual pet puppy game Nintendogs.
THE Romanians are coming. The Romanians are coming!!!! For years the Star and Express have been telling us the Romanians are coming. They never came. But now their abbreviated form – the Roma – are on their way.
As we learn in the Star:
“There are …fears thousands of Roma gipsies kicked out of France could head here. Up to 12 million are said to be looking to settle.”
Because what do gypsies love more than to settle, right, readers? Oh, and Time says there are 10 million gypsies living in the whole of Europe. And they are all massing to come to the UK – and breeding fast…
SCARE Story of The Day is the Daily Mail’s news that 100 Britons are scheduled to be crushed to death by an earthquake that is long overdue.
Before David Derbyshire’s story, the headline:
Quake Britain: UK overdue a massive tremor that could kill scores of people at any moment, warn experts
The source of the news is one Dr Roger Musson who “believes a fracture in the earth’s crust beneath the English Channel could slip at any time, sending a tremor rippling across the south east”.
Can’t argue with the science. And 100 of your southern ponces will die! Because:
The same fault was to blame for one of Britain’s biggest earthquakes in the last 500 years – a magnitude 6 quake that killed two children in London in 1580.
So. Last time there was a quake on the same fault line two people died.
According to Dr Musson, the same scale of earthquake would be 50 times more serious today because the population has grown so much.
Right now only Grafham Water reservoir in Cambridgeshire is affected. But he shrimps are mobile and have managed to reach Britain from their powerbase in the steppe region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. As the BBC puts it in sober tones, the shrimp “invaded Western Europe via the Danube”.
August-September are the Dog Days for journos. Nothing happens when the UK population holidays.
News gets tight and silly stories appear. This one dates from MARCH and only just surfaces in the spiked and dross rubbish heap which makes it Dog Day front page newsworthy.
“Health warnings are to be put on bags of potting compost after a Scottish gardener caught Legionnaire’s disease through an open wound,’ says today’s Herald.
“The 67-year-old was infected through a cut in his hand after opening a bag of compost in March and three other Scottish cases of the same strand of the disease in 2008 and 2009.
“Legionnaire’s has been linked to gardening in several countries, including the United States and Holland, but the four Scots cases are the first in the UK.”
A survey in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research says moderate drinkers taking one to three drinks a day have the lowest mortality rates.
This might well be an average, so six drinks every other day is the way to go to be pickled and thus preserved for your dotage.
The story is rooted in the actions of one Kevin Coombes. He lives in a council flats in Cam Green, South Ockendon. That’s him sticking a neighbourhood watch sticker on a window by the communal entrance.
But the sticker is a “fire hazard”. It will have to go. Says Mr Coombes:
“I put the stickers up because we get a lot of crime and graffiti around here, but they were taken down. I put more up but these were taken down by the caretaker as well, so I called the council to find out why.
“I was told that the stickers were against health and safety regulations because they were a fire hazard.”
REMEMBER that’s story about Lady GaGa making fans blind – 11 million teens are at risk! The news on the BBC was that teens looking to get Lady GaGa-style big eyes are snapping up eye-distorting contact lenses from Asia.
Lady Gaga has never worn them. Her big eyes are most likely the result of computer distortion. Lady GaGa is just the vehicle to make the story fly. At no point in the BBC’s story does any fan appear to mention Lady GaGa. Only the BBC’s Sima Kotecha mentions the star.
LADY GAGA can make you go blind. No, not like that. Lady GaGa is immune to the sticky fingers of most ruby dreams. This story is about contact lenses that make your eyes look bigger, such as those worn by Lady GaGa on a video for Bad Romance?
Well, so says the BBC, but reading on we are told:
In the video, the singer’s eyes have been digitally altered to make them look bigger and bolder.
So. Lady GaGa doesn’t wear the contact lenses. The story has nothing to do with Lady GaGa, then?
But let’s take look at the lens that “several companies making contact lenses in Asia claim to have achieved the same wide eyed look.
The product, known as ‘circle lenses’, covers part of the white area in the eyes to make the pupil look larger.”
If you’re a rabbit, you can achieve the same effect by sticking a finger in your eye, preferable first dipped in chilli powder. And red eyes are in vogue:
The lenses come in a variety of colours including bright pink and red and cost around $20 (£13).
The BBC’s Sima Kotecha says these lenses have not yet been approved for sale in the US but “teenage girls have been buying them from countries like South Korea and Japan, where they’re sold freely”.
LINDSAY Lohan is in danger of being killed by her black leggings. She might just catch dengue fever.
(Image: Lohan’s leggigns range with kneepads.)
Thailand’s Deputy Public Health Minister Phansiri Kulanartsiri tells media:
“I’m worried about how people dress, especially teenagers.”
The disease is spread by mosquitoes and, as the scare story goes, they are attracted to dark clothing.
“The mosquitoes can bite through the leggings’ thin fabric, so those who wear them are at greater risk of being infected with dengue. It’s better to wear light colours and wear pants that can protect against mosquitoes, such as jeans.”
TODAY’S media scare story comes via the AA, whose release is picked up Sky News and turned into the warning:
Motorists who use their iPod when driving could be moving towards “iPod oblivion”, according to the AA.
And it gets worse:
And it is not just drivers who are at risk – pedestrians and joggers are also causing concern by getting into an zombie-like state while using mobiles or iPods on the move.
Wheat prices have risen to their “highest monthly increase in 37 years”.
Or as the Mirror puts it:
“5p ON A LOAF.”
“Wheat price have hit a 22-month high”
“HEALTH PILLS HEART ATTACK DANGER”
What follows are details of “a disturbing report” into a link between calcium supplements and heart attacks. Readers get this fact:
Scientists have found that people are 30 per cent more likely to have a heart attack if they take calcium pills regularly.
That is clear statement of a direct link between calcium supplement and heart attacks.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the scientists conclude: “a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis is warranted.”
The experts believe the pills may lead to hardening of the arteries which can cause heart attacks.
THE Daily Mail’s Sophie Borland lends her name to an article headlined: “Babies born at night three times more at risk of death.”
Ladies – you need to cross your legs at night. All night. And there is scarier news:
Babies who are born at night or at weekends when there are hospital staffing shortages are at higher risk of dying.
Sunday night is not the time to give birth. Well, so the news tells us. Get a lod of the facts:
Women who give birth at night or weekends face a higher risk of their baby dying due to hospital staffing shortages, research suggests.
Risk? Suggests? The facts are getting less factual:
Figures show that babies delivered in the evenings or weekends are a third more likely to die than those born between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The Express is 30p. The Sunday Express costs more. Saving money is easy. And so is feeling better. Get a load of the other Express front-page headline:
“BRITONS DENIED CANCER DRUGS”
THOUSANDS of desperate British cancer patients are denied drugs routinely offered in other countries… The state-of-the-art medicines have been proven to extend the lives of people suffering from a range of cancers.
Why not move there, then?
But in the UK, patients are forced to wait while in other EU nations and elsewhere around the world the treatments are available without a quibble.
…Figures from the drug industry also show the UK is bottom of an international league table when it comes to spending on medicines.
The list in order:
SCARE Story of The Day is that household cleaners give you cancer. The Daily Express is emphatic:
“CANCER ALERT IN HOUSE CLEANERS”
“Using polish can double risk of breast tumours”
Is “can” a fact?
Those who use the products most often are twice as likely to contract the disease as those who handle them sparingly, say researchers.
You want the facts? Here goes:
US researchers asked 1,500 women aged between 60 and 80 to recall their cleaning habits, and compared cancer rates for different levels of product use. Study leader Dr Julia Brody said: “Women who reported the highest combined cleaning product use had a doubled risk of breast cancer compared with those with the lowest reported use.
MaGuffin, of Tabloid Watch, takes a closer look at the scare story:
IT’S political correctness gone mad:
This Mail headline and article is similar to yesterday’s swimming pool story. A few mildly critical comments from a few users of a facility is turned into general ‘fury’ (such an overused word) and the changes being made are on a much smaller scale than is implied.
Located in the middle of a beautiful national park, Mount Snowdon is one of the most awesome natural wonders of Great Britain.
The wild slopes, steep ridges and treacherous screes of the second highest mountain in the UK attract experienced mountaineers from across the world who want to pit their climbing skills against its rugged routes.
But now the 3,560ft mountain just got a whole lot tamer after a tarmac pathway was laid on one of the ancient routes.
“A tarmac pathway‘.” But in the next sentence:
The work to level and partly tarmac a mile-and-a-half of the Miners’ Track has been carried out to encourage more people onto the mountain.
Ah, now it’s only “partly tarmac“.
RECYCLED bags contain e.coli. The Telegraph says e.coli killed 26 people in Scotland in 1996.
The BBC says 20 people died.
The Scotsman says 21.
We can agree that e-coli is not good for you. And for good measure the Telegraph says that if the e-coli doesn’t kill you the salmonella might – it’s also in the bags.
The idea is that if you don’t wash your bags between use you run a risk of infecting your food. Researchers at the University of Arizona examined the bags of 84 shoppers.
The researchers warned the levels of bacteria they found were high enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death.
But would you eat the bag or lick out its insides?
READER Robert Carter has news that shopping makes you impotent – although not shopping on the web:
Finally men have a perfect excuse to avoid shopping… it could make them impotent.
Researchers have made the startling discovery that a gender bending chemical compound is present on some till receipts.
And the levels of hazardous substance Bisphenol A (BPA) can be high enough to suppress male hormones in the body.
THE Star screams that crosses have been banned from graves at Weston-super-Mare. Only, they haven’t. Only crosses over 2ft tall are not wanted. The Star calls this the works of – get this – “killjoys”.
The Mail shouts:
A council is under fire for banning crosses from one of its cemeteries – over health and safety fears.
The Sun says a cross erected by one Liz Maggs was removed because it was “too ugly“.
The Mail says it was banned because it was made of wood.
The Sun says:
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “There are regulations we ask people to follow. It is a lawn cemetery and, as such, is not allowed to have anything over 6in raised above ground level.
“DROUGHT SOON AS BRITAIN DRIES UP”
A forecaster warns of “less than average rainfall”. There might be a “hosepipe ban”! We are all as good as dead.
But then we noticed that Express has spent the week as a harbinger of doom:
Monday: “CANCER LINK TO ‘WONDER’ DRUG” – People taking ARBs for blood pressure issues might increase their chance of getting cancer.
Tuesday: “NEW MOBILE PHONES HEALTH THREAT”
And not only new mobile phones but old ones too. Phones might give you cancer if used for 30 minutes a day.
Here’s to the Daily Express and its motto: “IT’S GETTING WORSE!”
As the BBC screams, windscreen water…
“…may be the cause of 20% of cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in England and Wales, the Health Protection Agency says.”
It’s a fact because:
The finding came after researchers spotted that professional drivers are five times more likely to be infected.
“Football fever is sweeping the nation and medics are preparing for a rise in over excited football fans suffering heart attacks, strokes and other injuries.”
Aren’t media football lovers, too? (Cue Express report on all medics being immigrants.)
MEOW meow, aka mephadrone, is banned. The Sun is to think to banning the “killer party drug”, which has been linked to deaths in the media and frontline politics, but not proven to have caused any.
Now the Sun says the drugs market has been “flooded with potentially lethal replacements – all of them LEGAL”. First up: naphyrone.
Thanks to the Sun, eh, readers?