This England: The Newsreel


On This Day: A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill who travelled to America on board HMS Duke of York, 1941


On the blink

We’ve all been in those social situations where someone goes into full drone mode and you’d really rather be doing anything else than listen. But how to escape? Well now instead of bungled excuses about leaving the oven on or histrionics about heartburn, This England has learnt that all it takes is a few long blinks.

Plos One, an online journal, have conducted research into blinking and found that people spoke for several seconds less when faced with an avatar that blinked more slowly. Handily, voluntary blinks naturally have longer durations that involuntary ones too. The bores won’t even bat an eyelid but will end their soliloquies early. Hurrah!


Unhappy snaps

Who doesn’t feel as proud as punch when they get a good shot on their camera or smartphone? But advancement in photo technology has, it turns out, a downside too.

The Long Ranger is a new super-high definition mobile camera capable of spotting motoring offences from two thirds of a mile away. It’s catching in its crosshairs almost 40 drivers a day and 1200 motorists since it was first used a month ago.

‘This is not about bashing the motorist’, Martin Surl, police and crime commissioner for Gloucestershire (where the camera is being trialled), told The Times… ‘This is a new model of collaborative roads policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere’. Clearly it’s going to be something difficult to steer clear of.


A sticking point for Hamley’s

If you’re stuck for what to buy the youngsters for Christmas this year and ask them what they want, you may well get an even stranger response than usual. Toy slime has gripped the nation, with recipes for making your own attracting millions of views on YouTube from the younger generation.

One may refuse outright to buy such a gift – what’s wrong with a good book, you cry! But if you do cave in, be warned. As highlighted by Which?, some DIY slime kits have been found to contain more than four times the recommended amount of boron – a chemical which is used to make the slime sticky and which can cause skin irritation, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Hamley’s have already pulled a slime toy from their stores after it failed Which? safety testing. Is it time to get the children stuck into something else?


Positive thinking works (yes… really)

Being fit isn’t just a physical reality, you know. According to new research, what we believe can actually change our physiology, too.

In a university trial, participants who believed they had a CREB1 gene, linked to capacity for aerobic exercise, performed better than those who believed they didn’t have it. However, in the latter group, the participants processed carbon dioxide less efficiently and their lung capacity diminished, regardless of which version of the gene they really had.

Mind over matter – it’s not just something our Grandmothers used to say!


Santa facing delays

Trains, traffic, sleet and snow – however you or your loved ones are travelling home for Christmas, we are all untied in the inevitable delays.

But now it looks like Santa may also have to find a new mode of transport with the news, as reported in The Times, that reindeer numbers in the Arctic have more than halved in 20 years. Apparently warmer summers are causing an increase in flies and parasites, resulting in more outbreaks of disease. Reindeer may also be dying from stress and lack of food because of changes in plant growth.

If Donna, Dancer and Prancer can’t make it, they’ll be no substitutes – just a replacement bus service, no doubt. 


Weight watcher  

Borris, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, used to haughtily watch the family’s other pet, Charlie the cat, unfortunately being too portly to do much else.

However, after losing a quarter of his body weight from 4st 6lb to a svelte 3st 4lb, he’s back in action. ‘Before [Charlie] used to creep up and hit Borris with a paw and he was too fat to fight back’, said owner Annmarie Formoy from Deal in Kent. ‘Now she thinks twice about it as he will chase her up the stairs’.

Borris has also been named by the animal charity, PDSA, Slimmer of the Year. Let’s hope he doesn’t spoil it all over Christmas.

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