I can’t post a polygon puzzle at the moment as the Times search engine/archive is down, though I’ll try later if Switzerland v Ukraine (?) goes on for long enough. In the meantime, with apologies to Debra Hamel, I thought I would introduce a new feature. Debra often posts about the Week magazine, seemingly a US edition. I’ve been a subscriber since the Week first launched in the UK in 1995 — this was pre-blogging and pre-me getting an Internet connection at home, and I loved (and still do) the mixture of the informed and the bizarre. So with virtual permission from Debra, I thought I’d share with you a couple of items each week (if I remember and get time to read it— those weeks seem to come round quicker all the time).
24 June. Good week for The Moon, which has become a property hotspot. Cornish estate agents Sue and Francis Williams have sold £4 million worth of land on the moon, exploiting a loophole in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (;-) ) which failed to prevent private individuals laying claim to celestial land. Since 2000, more than three million plots on the Moon have been sold, to buyers including George W. Bush, William Shatner and Carrie Fisher.
Bad week for Oxford police, as local prostitutes have started riding bicycles in order to blend in. Instead of loitering on street corners, they now pedal about trying to look like students.
"It must be true, I read it in the tabloids" column. A 70-year-old shoplifter who tried to evade capture by biting a policeman was arrested after leaving his dentures at home. Gustav Braunschweig sank his gums into the officer’s arm — but to no effect. "He had forgotten to put his false teeth in", said a police spokesman, "so no harm was done".
When I walked up the road to my office today, located at the end of platform 1 of King’s Cross station, I was met by the sight of scores of my colleagues getting damper by the second. I thought at first that it was one of the now-ubiquitous fire alarm practices, but no — this one was for real.
From the BBC news "King’s Cross station is still closed after a fire at a nearby building site raised concerns that four gas cylinders on the site could explode.
Thousands of travellers have faced disruption while hundreds of residents have been told they may not be allowed back in their homes until Wednesday.
A 200m exclusion zone was set up as firefighters tried to cool the "extremely dangerous" cylinders."
Well, for a weekly magazine with a news press day of Monday (yes, that’s today), all our efforts were spent on rounding up our print and editorial production, subeditors, art editors, news editors and writers, and working out what the **** to do, given that all the in-progress copy was on the firewall-protected office servers. Round the table in a local cafe, we swapped mobile phone numbers, called up a freelance designer in Norfolk who could make up our pages, sorted out server access via a Macmillans site in Oxford, phoned printers to ensure all editions (USA, Japan and UK) could deal with late pages, and assorted similar tasks. After that, nothing else for me to do but to get home somehow (Kings Cross station was closed of course) — and hope that by the time I got there, our US colleagues would have accessed our production server and sent me my articles for this week’s edition of our peer review debate for me to edit via Webmail. Thankfully, when I got home and logged on to Webmail, Alex, one of our news editors in Washington DC, had indeed sent me the articles, so I spent the afternoon editing them and phoning/being phoned by the disaster recovery team and our subs/production editors. We won’t be able to get into our office tomorrow, it seems, but it looks as if the journal will come out, if a day late, thanks to my wonderful colleagues and our IT department.
Only now have I looked at the news — and reality has, well, hit, frankly. And only now am I feeling a bit shaky — well, to be honest, very shaky. Those gas cylinders could have exploded. It could have been a terrorist attack, or the fire could have been a lot worse. So I’m grateful to be here, but wobbly!