Sometimes things happen which are nearly impossible to believe. A week ago today in London, a teenager picked up a six-year-old boy and threw him off the 10th floor of a Thameside art gallery.
It happened on the viewing platform of the Tate Modern building, Britain’s top tourist attraction. The small boy, a French national visiting London with his family, landed 100 feet (30 metres) below on the fifth floor roof. He was airlifted to hospital with multiple injuries.
Mark Welte, an American tourist, who had been on the viewing platform, said the boy’s hysterical mother tried frantically to climb over the wall to reach her son and he pulled her back. He said, “The fellow being accused was being punched. We pushed him over to the side of the wall where he kept saying, ‘Yeah, I did it; I did it.’”
Three days later, a 17-year-old male appeared at Bromley Youth Court charged with attempted murder. He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey adult court in London.
Prosecutors said the French boy suffered fractures to his spine, arms and legs and sustained a deep bleed to the brain. Police described his condition as critical but stable, non-life-threatening. They said there was no link between the suspect and the victim.
Art gallery visitors described the suspect as tall and white with a beard. Nancy Barnfield said she warned her two children to stay away from the youth who was following them everywhere. “He was acting so weird,” she said.
This is not the only bizarre event of its kind in London. In April last year, Paul Crossley pushed a leading industrialist, Sir Robert Malpas, aged 90, onto the tracks of the London Underground.
Teacher Riyad el-Husseini leaped down and pulled the old man to safety one minute before a speeding tube train arrived.
Malpas, the former boss of Eurotunnel, suffered a broken pelvis, and Husseini sustained burns to a hand from the live rail in the incident at Marble Arch tube station.
Crossley appeared at the Old Bailey charged with attempted murder. CCTV footage drew gasps from the public as it showed Sir Robert being shoved violently from behind by Crossley using both hands.
The court was told that Crossley was a paranoid schizophrenic and had taken £600 worth of crack cocaine the day before the incident. He said he targeted Malpas because he looked old and less likely to withstand his attack.
Crossley was jailed for life with a minimum of 12 years.
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High on most people’s hate list these days is the fly-tipper, the guy who dumps his garbage illegally, often in a rural beauty spot, because to take it to a rubbish tip would be inconvenient or possibly cost him a fee.
In Spain they figured out an answer to this and I hope it will catch on here.
A man with a fridge to dispose drove it to a cliff edge and tipped it over, chuckling as he did so. He even posted footage of his labours on social media.
Bad idea, senor!
The police in Almeria spotted the film, tracked the offender down, fined him the equivalent of £45,000 and ordered him to retrieve the fridge and dispose of it correctly.
Better still, they posted footage of him hauling the fridge back up the cliff with block and tackle. He wasn’t smiling any more.
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Back in 1974, nearly half of Britain’s adults smoked, 45.6 per cent to be precise. A haze of cigarette smoke hung over football crowds and, through the clouds in cinemas, you could watch movie stars extract posh ciggies from gold cases or puff elegantly from expensive holders.
In 2007, the government banned smoking in public places and tobacco users dropped to 20.5 per cent. Today, the figure is 16.6 per cent and a new government paper has set out plans to wipe out the habit totally by 2030.
The next items on the agenda are obesity and sugar intake. Plans include making labelling clearer on takeaway foods and banning the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.
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A couple of preacher jokes …
“Beware,” the fire and brimstone preacher hollered. “There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Old lady: “What if you don’t have any teeth?” Preacher: “Teeth will be provided.”
Preacher: “It’s time to join the Army of the Lord.” Layman: “I’m already in the Army of the Lord.” Preacher: “How come I don’t see you in church?” Layman: “I’m in the secret service.”
… and one step up:
A sceptic is talking to God: “How long is a million years?” God: “To me, it’s only a minute.” Sceptic: “How much is a million dollars?” “To me, it’s a penny.” “May I have a penny, God?” “Sure, wait a minute.”