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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Amazing tales from Planet Tabloid
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News that's out of this world
This week another fugitive vulture on the rampage, more vindictive seagulls, keep-fit classes for fat rats, rubber pavements and an innovative use of a toothbrush.

But first...

Burning issue of the week

Helen Adams
Big Brother's Helen Adams

Q: Was Jeffrey Archer carrying on with Big Brother Sex Goddess Helen "Hell" Adams as well as everyone else?

A: No, but no chance to mention both Jeffrey Archer and Sex Goddess Helen "Hell" Adams in the same sentence should ever be allowed to go begging.

VULTURE NEWS

Another escaped vulture is on the loose in East Anglia.

This second escaped vulture follows the first one, which was on the rampage last month and was much reported on.

The new vulture looks pretty much like the old one. It's been spotted circling above a gang of children playing five-a-side football in a field near Colchester.

The same vulture has also been seen being dive-bombed by seagulls and gangs of "angry crows".

The vulture's not been identified. Maybe it's the same vulture that escaped from a vulture sanctuary near Hitchen recently.

But nobody knows.

Seagull
Guilty bird

MORE CRAZY BIRD NEWS

A Gloucestershire car park worker who has been dive-bombed by the same seagull for the last five summers is selling a book about the nightmare.

Car park man Don Weston plans to call his book "Swoop".

TV and web-site appearances have already made him famous around the world.

So far he has been covered in bird-droppings. But if the book is a hit, he plans to clean up.

BAT NEWS

In a scene also reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, a family in East Kilbride is being terrorised by a swarm of 300 bats.

Bill and Carina Doherty told the Daily Telegraph they are scared whenever they open the door in case a mass of bats fly into their faces.

Rat
Fat rat
Their young children often wake up screaming when the vampire-like creatures fly start flying around their bedroom in the middle of the night.

Mrs Doherty told the paper: "The situation has become a living nightmare."

They are not allowed to kill or otherwise remove the bats because they are a protected species.

They have no plans to write a book or appear on Big Brother.

RAT NEWS

A group of north eastern rodent fanciers have set up aerobics classes for rats, if the Sunderland Echo is to be believed.

The keep-fit classes are being run by the North of England Rat Society, the paper reports.

Pet rodents who are getting too fat are put through their paces on an obstacle course which includes a slalom and a tyre-run.

Founder member Linda Collins told the paper the pets normally have lots of excess energy, but often fall asleep for 10 minutes after their workout.

Ms Collins has 33 pet rats of her own.

RUBBER PAVEMENT

Top scientists in California have come up with the idea of replacing paving stones with rubber mats.

The proposed new carpet-style paving stones will be made from recycled car tyres.

The new pavements will be ideal for cars and other vehicles with concrete wheels.

It is also believed that the rubber pavement will be less likely to crack or be damaged by tree roots.

CHOCOLATE AND GHERKIN PIZZA

Pregnant women suffering bizarre food cravings are being offered a new range of disgusting pizza toppings, the Daily Record reports.

Pizza
Maybe best stick to a Margerita
The Cravings range includes combinations such as egg, cheese and pickle; fruit and chocolate; and gherkin and chocolate.

But the firm involved says it has no plans to introduce coal-flavoured pizzas - for the time being.

TALKING BENCHES

Talking benches are being installed around Barrow-in-Furness to tell tourists about the town's history.

Designer Mil Stricevic told the North West Evening Mail: "I was sitting on a park bench and became intrigued about the story behind the name on its memorial plaque.

"I realised if the seats could talk they would have some interesting tales to tell. From there it was a short step to designing the talking benches."

DAFT AS A BRUSH

A pensioner had to have a toothbrush surgically removed from his backside after he used it to scratch his piles.

The 69-year-old - whose name is being kept quiet - had the brush removed by doctors in a hospital.

The British Dental Association's Dr Jacinta Yeo told reporters: "This is a surprising use for a toothbrush and we would recommend that people use toothbrushes in the way they are intended."

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