Marmite ban sparks black market

LET this be a lesson to you not to play around with compressed air hoses.

In fairness to New Zealand trucker Steven McCormack, he was not messing around when he slipped, fell and impaled his backside on the hose that powered his truck's air brakes.

The brass fitting pierced his left buttock and started to pump air into his body.

"I was blowing up like a football," he told reporters from his hospital bed. "I had no choice but to just lay there, blowing up like a balloon.

The 48-year-old's screams raised the alarm and workmates released a safety valve to stem the airflow but not before he had swelled horribly and fluid had filled one lung.

Doctors said the air had parted fat from muscle but, luckily for Steve, had not entered his bloodstream. If it had, he would have died instantly.

At least if you drop something precious down a toilet, you have a chance of recovering it.

That is precisely what happened when Jesse Mattos lost a valued high school ring down the pan, 73 years ago.

Jesse was re-united with the ring this week after it was spotted by a sanitation worker in California in a sewer about 200 miles from where it had entered the sewerage system all those years ago.

The ring, which bears the initials JTM, the date it was issued and a college symbol, was found by a man who attended the same college and so knew where to start the search for its owner.

Tony Congy, 52, had the ring cleaned and looked at the 1938 college year book to track down Jesse who said getting the ring back had made him feel a lot younger.

What do you do if you buy a new house and find a fortune in cash in the attic?

If you are Josh Ferrin of Salt Lake City, Utah, you seek out the six children of the home's previous owner, who had died, and give them money.

We would all do that wouldn't we? After all it was only $45,000.

Mr Ferrin insists he is not perfect and says he was tempted to keep it because he had mounting bills and his car had broken down and he and his wife were saving to adopt a child.

"But the money was not ours to keep and I do not believe you get a chance very often to do something radically honest, to do something ridiculously awesome for someone else and that is a lesson I hope to teach my children," he said.

And who can argue with that?

How would you feel if you found out that some distant foreign land had slapped a ban on Vegemite?

Pretty bloody peeved, I bet.

So how do you think us Brits have reacted to the news that the Danes have ruled Marmite illegal?

Marmite, for the uninitiated, is a sort of British version of Vegemite - a thick dark brown spread made from brewer's yeast and eaten in much the same way as the beloved Aussie icon.

The small colony of ex-pat Brits living in Denmark have been rocked to the core by the ban on Marmite, sparking a black market in smuggled jars.

The Danes, who have already banned Rice Crispies, Shreddies, Horlicks and Ovaltine, say it falls under legislation forbidding the sale of food products with added vitamins.

Utter nonsense, of course. In the past war has been waged over more trivial insults to British honour.

The Danes have been warned.

Alternative Universe is a weekly humour column by Adrian Taylor.

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