Belfast Telegraph

The end of the world is nigh... yet again

By Frances Burscough

Silly season is here again - this is the name given to the few weeks in summer when so many people are away on holiday that nothing much happens and proper news stories are few and far between. For the same reason, advertising is also limited too, which means that news editors have more space than usual to fill with fewer stories than usual.

Now, rather than succumbing to the pressures of silly season myself, I thought it would be much more fun to do a round-up of this weeks finest examples from the press and broadcast news.

Titles and authors shall remain nameless, so as to avoid any accusations of the pot/kettle/black variety. I am, however, beginning each with its actual headline.

"Aliens were present at crucifixion of Jesus - and here's the proof"

Yes, you read that correctly. And no, it's not from National Enquirer or another comedy comic, but a reputable Fleet Street daily.

The "story" is all centred around a fresco painting on the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia which depicts Jesus on the Cross; but in the background the artist has placed two objects which appear to be flying saucers with a flume of smoke or some other fuel emission propelling them through the sky. Errr... well of course to conspiracy theorists and ET watchers this, quite simply, is "proof" that UFOs do exist. End of story. And hey presto, there's another empty page filled!

"The planet and our civilisation will DIE"

And this is the cheery message (from another reputable daily newspaper) that there is going to be a colossal collision with another planet and we are all going to be wiped out. But it's ok, because it won't happen until October.

According to Brazilian senator Telmario Mota, he has it on good authority from NASA that a planet called Niburu is about to enter our solar system and wreak almighty havoc: "The history of human civilisation will soon end," he announced.

Apparently no one can actually see this pesky rogue planet though, because it's approaching via the South Pole. Ah....riiiiight....gotcha. All I can say is don't you just hate it when that happens? And I was planning on going on a nice trip to Majorca in October too. I don't suppose I could get a full refund, could I?

"Man who's collected over 9,000 beer cans in 40 years is finally getting rid of them"

Stop press! This is the, ahem, story that a man who collected over 9,000 beer cans in 40 years is getting rid of them. And that's about the height of it, although the newspaper did of course provide countless photographs of the empties all lining the walls of his house, thus filling a double page spread in the process.

"Library seeks witches to translate 17th century spell book"

This one appeared this week in a notable New York publication, thus proving they celebrate silly season across the pond too. Three books have been found, dating from the 17th century, which appear to show spells in pictures and writing, but they need to find someone to translate them into modern English.

So far experts have figured out that one of them, 'The Book of Magical Charms' was written by two anonymous witches (probably) in England in the 1600s and may contain formulae to cheat at dice, ease menstrual cramps and communicate with spirits.

So, by the pricking of my thumbs, if anyone reading this is partial to a spot of recreational witchcraft, then please do get in touch.

"Man stuck in ATM feeds 'help' notes through the receipt slot"

No explanation needed with this one, as the catchy headline just about covers it. Apparently he was a bank worker who was replacing the money when the door banged shut.

But silly as it may seem (for a serious news programme) it does go to prove something that I've always suspected, ie that each cash machine does contain a tiny man employed to count up your balance, change your pin and issue statements, all very very quickly.

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