March 1975: On the second of this month, six schoolgirls were walking along the beach at Llanaber to the north of Barmouth and were astonished to see a huge beast. It looked like a huge turtle but without a shell. The giant creature lumbered across the sand and entered the sea just about 200 yards (183m) ahead of them. They all agreed on the description: it was about 1oft (3m) long and had clawed feet and a long, square tail. It was black in color and had a small head on a long neck and green eyes. It was never identified. There were several reports of a large unidentified sea creature from around the North Wales coast that week. FT 10:18; 11:22
May 1975: Reports reached the international press via Dar-es-Salaam, about a fisherman from southern Tanzania at Kilwa who netted a "fish-like creature." This stirred up some interest because it was said the "fish" had two legs with the human complement of toes! From its chest emerged two arms, two eyes (one of which glowed) and a horn. The staff at Fortean Times asked some of their friends at the British Natural History Museum to ask their contacts in Tanzania for any more news about the stange catch, but nothing more was heard about the marine wonder. FT:15:13
October 1984: The previous month, the Phillipines president Ferdinand Marcos was proclaimed "President of the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment" (sheesh what a name!-I wonder if Imelda was going to be named "Minister of Footwear"?)-oh-I needn't have wondered-his wife Imelda, the First Lady, was named "Crown of Consciousness of the Royal Order." Both awards, in fact, were bestowed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose followers poured into the Phillipines for the actual ceremony in mid-October. Imelda stunned the local newsmen by announcing "There is a hole in outer space through which cosmic rays bear down on our islands."
Other signs and wonders pointing to the greatness of the Marcos clan trickled into the Fortean Times newsroom. These included the arrival of a team from the Austrailian Hollow Earth Society seeking a cave system beneath Manila that led down 19 miles (30km) to another civilization! (they said;-). Within a few months, Ferdinand Marcos became seriously ill, and some reports had him close to death. But the Marcos team was to stay in power until February 1986. Both fled their country to Hawaii then because of widespread demonstrations in favor of Corazon Aquino, who had just ran against Marcos in the presidential election. Aquino was the wife of slain opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino, who was gunned down right at the airport in Manila upon returning home on 21 August 1983. FT 43:24ff
August 1986: The latest series of Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) sightings were still going on in Egypt, months after a mission of the Coptic Orthodox Church looked into the phenomenon at St. Demiana's church. The team from the mission had seen it for themselves in April 1986. Like the apparitions at Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo, in 1968, most of the sightings were of bright, white lights, likened to the "Holy Doves," but others said they could see the Blessed Virgin "clad in white," sometimes carrying the infant Jesus, or beams of light from the buildings domes. FT48:10
May 1995: On the anniversary of the outbreak of Ebola virus in Kikwit, Zaire and the 19th anniversary of the original outbreak in 1976, Larry Harris, a white supremacist nutter, was arrested in Lancaster, Ohio, for buying a sample of the bacterial agent that causes bubonic plague. He had reconstituted the freeze-dried sample and police were certain that he meant to use it. FT82:10
July 1996: In a bizarre hostage taking plan, that wasn't very intelligent but memorable, Roderick Baker tried to ward off police by holding 140 chickens hostage at knifepoint. The trouble began when sanitation workers, accompanied by the police, were ordered to clean up Baker's trash-filled yard in Uniondale, New York. Baker seized a kitchen knife and threatened to kill one chicken every minute if the invaders did not leave. He had decapitated three before the police stormed in to arrest him. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals then relocated the rest of the chickens to Long Island to "live a normal chicken life." FT 92:11
2001-2003: In 2001, 84 kidnapped garden gnomes were recovered after the Garden Gnome Liberation Front left them on the steps of the cathedral in Saint-Die-des-Vosges, near Strasbourg, with a banner that read "Free at last!" In October the local police station still had 43 unclaimed gnomes, destined to spend the rest of their days in a dusty cupboard. Since 1997, around 6,500 French gnomes have been stolen before being left in forests or at lake fronts. In one memorable case eleven were found hanging from a bridge in Briey, France with a suicide note. Reuters, 28 October; Daily Telegraph, 29, October 2003; FT182:08
November 2003: The Rev. Canaan Sodindo Banana, the first president of independent Zimbabwe, died on 10 November 2003 aged 67 after a long illness. Banana fell (or slipped ;-) from grace in 1999 when he was convicted of homosexual assaults on gardeners, cooks and bodyguards. The scandal tarnished his wonderful reputation (I have to wonder if anyone could possibly be worse than Robert Mugabe) for having helped end the ethnic violence in Matabeleland. Banana fled to South Africa after hearing that Mugabe planned to have him assassinated. His flight to safety spawned a series of punning headlines about his last name in normally serious newspapers. Here are some examples: "Rape Conviction Squashes Banana," "Banana Absconds To Save His Skin," "Banana Splits Zimbabwe," "Banana In Botswana With A Bunch Of Supporters," "Search For Banana Fruitless," "Banana Slips Into SA." Daily Telegraph, 4 December 1998; 12 November 2003; Guardian, 12 November 2003; FT 182:12. The cartoon I hope to post is by Zapiro and appeared in the Sowetan newspaper in 1998.
2006-2007: Demonstrators marched through the streets of Nantes, France on New Year's Eve 2006 carrying banners saying "No to 2007" and "Now is better." They even called the United Nations to stop the "mad race" of time and declared the indefinite suspension of the future.. Fonacon, the group that organized the protest, said that the ending of a year is another step towards the grave and therefore a tragedy, not a cause for celebration and joy. Independent, 9 December 2006; Scotsman, 2 January 2007; FT220:09
I hope you enjoyed these. I also hope to come back and add at least one more image-the cartoon about Rev. Banana. All the best to anyone stopping by!