Invention of Loch Ness monster, fortune-teller's misfortune and an amusing fraud

 

IRISH TIMES ODDITIES:A look at some articles which have appeared in The Irish Timesin the past, by Allen Foster

LOCH NESS MONSTER “INVENTED”

An Italian journalist claims in the Milan illustrated weekly that he invented the Loch Ness monster in 1933. Signor Francesco Gasparini said that he was the London correspondent of a Milan newspaper at the time and amassed hundreds of British newspaper clippings. They included two lines published in a Scottish newspaper about some Inverness fishermen who had seen a strange fish. “At the beginning of August 1933 my supply of news was even slower than usual,” he wrote. “I had the inspiration to get hold of the item about the strange fish. The idea of the monster had never dawned on me, but then I noted that the strange fish would not yield a long article, and I decided to promote the imaginary being to the rank of monster without further ado.” But the monster grew out of hand. The next day, Signor Gasparini said, he was forced to invent eye-witness accounts, backed up by local colour gleaned from a geography book. By the time he began plotting the monster’s death or escape, long reports were appearing in other papers. “It had to live on. The British press grabbed my little monster and made a giant out of it.” The legend grew. “Photographs” of the monster and magnificent drawings, based on eye-witness accounts were published widely. Affectionately called “Nessie”, it became a national institution. Signor Gasparini declared: “The monster of Loch Ness has never existed. I invented it. I admit it – but I am not sorry.”

March 23rd, 1959

FORTUNE-TELLER’S MISFORTUNE TOLD

A man posing as an Indian fakir has been doing a brisk trade in “Futures” on the Riviera, states Reuterfrom Nice. His claim to tell fortunes has been irresistible among the women, and altogether he has been carrying on a most “promising” business. Then a strange man came to him. After the usual mystic preliminaries, the stranger asked the fakir, “Who am I? Where will you be tonight?” There was a long pause. “Well, I am a police inspector,” continued the stranger. “And you will spend tonight in prison.” Fortune-telling is forbidden by law in France.

July 2nd, 1934

AN AMUSING FRAUD

An amusing fraud perpetrated in the west of Ireland in the old RIC days, and it is thought that one of the participants is, at the moment, living in Ballinasloe and that he still relates with pride how he and his friend outwitted the authorities. It appears that a certain native of the town wished to join the RIC He had a sound general education and a magnificent constitution, so he had no fear of failing the examination – till he learned with consternation that he was about one-eight of an inch short of the stipulated height.

Knowing that the regulations were very strict, he consulted a friend, who agreed that the fraction of an inch was likely to debar him from acceptance. It seemed as if nothing could be done about it until, just before the examination, the resourceful friend called him aside and fetched him with a resounding crack on the top of the head with his stout ash plant. The resulting bump made all the difference, and its owner proved an efficient addition to the force.October 3rd, 1936

NOT FUNNY

A German cartoonist in the Soviet zone has been sentenced to 25 years in a labour camp for sending cartoons to Western German papers.

February 20th, 1950