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The Odd Truth, Aug. 30, 2002

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Storefront Safe Sex

LONDON - A London couple has begun a very public week in bed. They'll bed down for the next week in the storefront window of a photography gallery. Why? For the sake of art -- and safe sex. The bed-in began yesterday.

Local estate agent Max Whatley, 24, and his 22-year-old nanny girlfriend Meg Zakreta from Poland, will remain in their sloping bed eating, sleeping, chatting and making love until Sept. 5. They are allowed out for just 30 minutes a day. A condom machine hangs on the wall next to them to remind onlookers of the importance of safe sex.

The pair has already put its contents to use -- just moments before the exhibition opened yesterday, though the only tangible proof of their horizontal activities -- glimpsed only in silhouette -- is a mounting pile of used condoms on the floor of their crimson boudoir. The two were concealed by a thin curtain.

The project, "No Inhibition," is the brainchild of artist Liam Yeates who said he got his inspiration from Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono's love-in at the Amsterdam Hilton in 1969.

Many people walking past the window were startled by what they saw, and stopped to watch for a few minutes, often smiling. The couple were invited to take part in the exhibit after the artist saw them kissing. (CBS)

Cops Zap Oldster

LAKELAND, Florida — Police shot an 81-year-old nursing home resident three times with bean bags and hit him with pepper spray when he became suicidal and brandished a small glass vase, a report said Thursday.

Willie D. Foster, who was in wheelchair and has a pacemaker, was holding the vase over his head and threatening nursing home staff and police officers, The Ledger of Lakeland reported.

"It was the safest option for the patients and the man," police spokesman Jack Gillen was quoted as saying. "If this were my parent, I would be satisfied with the officers' actions."

Foster was in good condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, the paper said.

Foster's daughter, Felicia Kennedy, said police and nursing-home officials acted improperly in the incidentat Grace Healthcare.

"He's 81 with a pacemaker and has a little bit of dementia," said Kennedy.

She said her father was bruised by the bean bags. "I don't know if they even needed to call police. I wish they had called me first." (AP)

Church Holds Annual Cabbie Blessing

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco taxicab drivers are truly blessed.

The city's St. Boniface Church conducted its annual blessing of taxi drivers Thursday, holding a curbside prayer service for more than 100 drivers and their passengers.

The blessing by the Roman Catholic church is a celebration of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of cab drivers.

Cabbies — who are often stiffed, robbed and otherwise hassled — could probably use a prayer or two. And Muslim and Sikh drivers, a large part of the work force, say they've particularly been targeted since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP)

Postal Approximation

BURTON, Mich. — The card lacked a name, proper street address and ZIP code, but it still made it to its addressee: "Grama in the blue house."

Melody Welch said she was amazed the U.S. Postal Service delivered the letter to her Burton home. Her 8-year-old grandson — Cameron Herrick — addressed the envelope to "grama in the blue ... house" and got Welch's street name wrong.

The boy was trying to write "Valley Forge" Street, but he actually wrote "Vally Fored."

Postal carrier Mikael Vickers said he went to Valley Forge, and luckily found only one blue house on the street. (AP)

Trabzon Goes Upscale

ISTANBUL - A Turkish woman has begun selling the cows she kept in upstairs apartments in the city of Trabzon, to the relief of her neighbors.

Local alderman Osman Terzi said health and safety officials had ordered the cows to be cleared out of the first and third floors of the building in the Black Sea port city.

"I have learned that Fatma Kocaman has started selling her cows, which is a very pleasing development," the Anatolian news agency quoted him saying Thursday. It said she had kept "a large number" of cows there. (Reuters)

Hong Kong Launches 'Win A Job' Game Show

HONG KONG - And, the grand prize is... a job! As Hong Kong grapples with record unemployment, a TV station is planning to air a show that features people competing for jobs as prizes.

TV executives say "Win a Job" will be launched next month. It'll let participants compete for jobs as tour guides, hair stylists or makers of dim sum -- the bite-sized Chinese snacks.

The competition will take place before a studio audience that will include potential employers. Contestants will have to go through normal job-hunting procedures, including filling in application forms, attending interviews and even doing on-the-job tryouts.

Three finalists will appear on each show and viewers at home will vote by phone on who should win the job -- although the employers will have final say. (AP)

Welsh Rugby Referees Become Official Joke

CARDIFF - Welsh rugby referees became an official joke Thursday when it was announced that their new sponsors were Britain's largest chain of opticians.

Placards carrying the message 'Get your blinking eyes tested, ref' will be distributed by Specsavers to fans at matches in the coming season, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said.

Clive Norling, the WRU's Director of Referees, welcomed the four-year deal, saying it should help to improve the traditionally tense relationship between referee and Welsh rugby follower.

"Like all referees, I was subjected to humorous comments from the terraces on match days such as 'open your eyes ref, you're missing a great game,'" said Norling in a statement. (Reuters)

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