Magpie: Reports of Thatcher's death put cat among pigeons


THE REPORTED demise of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher unsettled a memorial service last week for Canada’s war dead.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper was among 1,700 luminaries at the gala armed services tribute in Toronto when word reached him by text in the middle of dinner.

“Lady Thatcher has passed away,” said the text. Chatter veered to expressions of shock and reminiscences of the 84-year-old. Harper dispatched Dimitri Soudas, his aide back in Ottawa, to confirm the news and prepare an official statement.

Soudas immediately e-mailed his contacts at Buckingham Palace and in British prime minister Gordon Brown’s office. London had no idea what he was banging on about and assured him that Lady T was very much alive, if not exactly kicking.

About 20 minutes after the rumour mill started churning, a new message began to circulate among the diners at the Metro Toronto convention centre. It was Canadian transport minister John Baird’s beloved 16-year-old cat – whom he’d named Thatcher out of admiration for one of his political heroes – who had died.

A frazzled Soudas reportedly commented: “If the cat wasn’t dead, I’d have killed it by now.”


TIME WAS all you got in a hotel bedroom by way of reading was Gideon’s Bible. Not so now . . . The hotel chain Travelodge has revealed that 7,200 books were abandoned in its rooms during the past year. The two most frequently abandoned books were Pushed to the Limit by the pneumatically enhanced Katie Price, and Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. And third was Dear Fatty by Dawn French.

No, I can’t make sense of it either . . .


EGOCENTRICITY KNOWS no limits it seems.

A British man on the run from police sent a picture of himself to his local paper because he disliked the mugshot they had printed of him as part of a public appeal to track him down.

South Wales police had issued a photo of Matthew Maynard, wanted by officers investigating a house burglary, as part of a crackdown on crime in Swansea. When it appeared in the South Wales Evening Post,the 23-year-old sent the newspaper a replacement photo of himself standing in front of a police van.

They obligingly printed it on the front page. The police thanked him for helping them, saying: “Everyone in Swansea will know what he looks like now.”


WHILE THERE have been claims about the Virgin Mary appearing at Knock recently, there have also been reported sightings of Jesus in Tennessee. According to Jim Stevens of Jonesborough, the Saviour’s face appears every morning in the condensation on the side window of his truck. It disappears with the condensation, but returns the next morning, he told the Johnson City Press.