Headline Challenge – 2020 in quirky headlines

The Headline Challenge is played every weekday morning on the BBC Tees breakfast show (95fm). Peter Barron, and occasionally Chris Lloyd, bat for The Northern Echo, coming up with a funny story from around the world and challenging listeners to produce a better headline than theirs. Points are awarded for the best headline each day and it’s double-points for a song title, film, play or book.

JANUARY 2:  The owner of the World’s Oldest Sweet Shop, in Pately Bridge, puts the business up for sale after 20 years. Keith Tordoff wants to run for election to be the local Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner instead. Echo: Bon Bon Voyage (0)
BBC: Lollicop man (1)

JANUARY 3: Catholic priest Father Peter O’Connor gets a big cheer as he exits a mass in Dublin by whizzing down the aisle on a scooter he told the children he got from Santa. Echo: All things bright and scooterful (2)
BBC: Holy roller (1)
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WEEK 2 JANUARY 6: Massachusetts couple Valerie Sneade and Jason Roy have exchanged wedding vows at the same Dunkin’ Donuts store where they parted as sweethearts 30 years ago. Echo: Donut forsake me oh my darlin’ (0)
BBC: Dunk a dunk a burning love (2)

JANUARY 7: A cat called Padstow has been rescued by RSPCA officials after breaking into a prison in Cumbria. The pussy climbed a 25-feet perimeter fence at HM Prison Haverigg and walked along razor wire before getting trapped. Echo: Purridge (2)
BBC: The Pawshank Redemption (2)

JANUARY 8: Police were led on a high-speed chase by a naked man who stole a car from outside a Florida hotel. The driver, who was under the influence, was said to have been uncomfortable during the chase because the car had leather seats. Echo: Top rear (2)
BBC: Chafing cars (4)

JANUARY 9: A sculpture featuring a giant swirl of whipped cream and a cherry on top is to be the latest attraction in Trafalgar Square. Echo: The Trifle Tower (3)
BBC: The Cake Modern (4) JANUARY 10: The world’s first cheese-themed hotel is to open in London.

The Cheese Suite in Camden will have cheesy wallpaper, furniture, cushions, and bathroom soap. Echo: Brie our guest (5)
BBC: B& Brie (4) The Northern Echo:

WEEK 3 JANUARY 13: Diego, the 100-year-old giant tortoise with a legendary sex drive, returns to the Galapagos Islands after saving his species by fathering an estimated 800 tortoises. Echo: Diego forth and multiply (0)
BBC: The tortoise and the heirs (1)

JANUARY 14: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is appealing for “that special someone” to join him on a date during SpaceX’s first tourist flight to the moon in 2023. He’s looking for a ‘life partner’ and wants to “shout our love from outer space”. Echo: There’s a starman, dating in the sky (2)
BBC: Milky wahey! (1)

JANUARY 15: A man suspected of breaking into tyre shop in Georgia had to call the police to be rescued after a pile of tyres collapsed and trapped him. Police said Nathaniel King was in a “desperate situation” when he made the emergency call. Echo: Caught tread-handed (3)
BBC: Alloy, alloy, what’s going on ‘ere then? (1)

JANUARY 16: Spotify has launched playlists for dogs left home alone. Echo: A bone again, naturally (3)
BBC: Wired for hound (3) The Northern Echo:

JANUARY 17: A Texas woman, whose boyfriend has dumped her, has gone viral after taking to Twitter to ask for advice on how to break the news to her cat who adored him. Abby Govinden, of Houston, said she didn’t know how to tell her cat that he wasn’t coming back. Echo: If you leave miaow, you take away the biggest part of me (5)
BBC: Wake up moggie, I think I’ve got something to say to you (3)

WEEK 4 JANUARY 20: Owner of Yum Yum, the “very fat” sheep, gives up trying to free the ewe after she gets stuck between fence & compost heap in Hampshire & calls in firefighters. Echo: Fleece release me, let me go, for I can’t shove ewe anymore (1)
BBC: Ba Ba Fat Sheep do you need a pull? (1)

JANUARY 21: Harland Dodson, popped out to a shop in Virginia to buy his wife a new lighter for her cigarettes and ended up buying a winning Lottery scratch card that earned him £500,000. Echo: Fags to riches (5)
BBC: Strike it lucky (1) JANUARY 22: Nearly 100 beehives have been stolen from an orchard in Oregon, costing an estimated £44,000 dollars in honey profits.

Echo: Stealing a hive, stealing a hive (by The Bee Gees).(7)
BBC: A case for the bizzies (1) The Northern Echo: JANUARY 23: A blundering bank robber, who tried to conceal his identity with a pillow case over his head, was arrested after escaping “very slowly” because he’d forgotten to cut eye-holes in his disguise.

Matthew Davies, who robbed Dunfermline’s Bank of Scotland branch of GBP2,000 also stopped to pat a dog. Echo: Eye-way robbery (7)
BBC: Pillock-case (2) January 24: A horse that was running loose and causing traffic chaos in Cardiff was driven to safety on a local bus service.

Echo: Any more mares, please? (7)
BBC: Neigh’s Travel (3) WEEK 5 JANUARY 27: A book returned by student to the University of Liverpool library contained a slice of cheese that had been used as a bookmark.

Echo: The Secret Dairy of Adrian Mould (4)
BBC: Grated Expectations (0) JANUARY 28: El Paso Zoo, in Texas, is offering spurned lovers the chance to name a cockroach after their ex and have it fed to a meerkat for lunch in an act of revenge for Valentine’s Day. Echo: Food if you think it’s over (4)
BBC: Jennifer, Alison, Philippa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, this bug’s for you (2)

The Northern Echo: JANUARY 29: An owl that was rescued from a ditch was found to be too fat to fly. The bird was thought to be injured but was actually “extremely obese”.

It has now been released back into the wild after being placed on a strict diet at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary. Echo: Twit-twoo ate all the pies? (4)
BBC: I could fly with a little help from my friends (4) WEEK 6

FEBRUARY 3: Snow plough driver Justic Horak, who keeps the roads clear in Montana, has gone viral after a recording on Youtube showcased his stunning singing voice. Echo: Snowbody does it better (0)
BBC: Grittin’s got talent (2) FEBRUARY 4: Long-suffering wife Lindy Abbott, of Canberra, has learned to accept she’ll never be a match for husband Neil’s main passion building up the world’s biggest collections of matchsticks and matchboxes.

Echo: Let’s stick together (2)
BBC: It’s match-rimony (2) FEBRUARY 5: A van driver delivering seafood to a pub in Wales had a disaster when his handbrake failed and the vehicle rolled over a sheer drop. The unidentified driver was captured on film vainly chasing after the van outside The Miskin Arms in Pontyclun.

Echo: Crash bang scallop (2)
BBC: Seafood splatter (3) FEBRUARY 6: Ten-year-old Evan Bisnauth volunteers his free time reading to stray dogs at New York City Animal Care Centres. The stories and Evan’s soothing voice help to keep the pooches calm.

Echo: The Adventures of Winnie The Poodle (2)
BBC: Gnaw-rator (4) FEBRUARY 7: An auction is bringing back memories of the day The Beatles disguised themselves as police officers to escape fans in Newcastle. Photos taken at the time are going under the hammer today.

Echo: Police Police Me, Oh Yeah, Like I Police You (2)
BBC: Help! I Need Some Bobby (6) The Northern Echo:

WEEK 7 FEBRUARY 10: Valentine’s Day tours at New York’s biggest sewage plant have sold out within 20 minutes. Newtown Creek Waste Water Recovery Facility is bizarrely a big hit with those looking for romance.

Echo: If I smell in love with you (0)
BBC: You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love pongs (2) FEBRUARY 11: Calypso, one of the world’s oldest horses, has finally died in Australia at the age of 50 – that’s the equivalent of 150 in human terms. Echo: Gone but not for trottin’ (0)
BBC: Hold your hearses (3)

FEBRUARY 12: Queen’s Brian May has designed a guitar-themed sports bra. Echo: You’re my breast friend – ooh you make me lift (0)
BBC: Another one hikes the bust (5) FEBRUARY 13: An 82-year-old man has been jailed for 24 weeks for playing classical music too loud.

Ian Trainer, 82, of Aintree, Liverpool, was locked up for breaching a restraining order banning him for playing the music above 65 decibels after complaints from neighbours. Echo: Under lock and Tchaikovsky (2)
BBC: Sssshoshtakovic (5) FEBRUARY 14: Wellington Zoo, in New Zealand, is offering Valentine’s Day tours where romantic couples can find out more about the fascinating love lives of the various animals.

Echo: Oh-oh here she comes, she’s an anteater (5)
BBC: Fly me to baboon (5) The Northern Echo: WEEK 8

FEBRUARY 17: Police in Aberdeenshire were called out on Valentine’s Day to rescue two donkeys out for a “romantic stroll” on a lane near Turriff. The love-struck donkeys were escorted back to their field. Echo: And I will (hee-haw)lways love you (2)
BBC: Don’t go braying my heart (0)

FEBRUARY 18: Designers working in the motor industry are predicting that self-driving cars will come equipped with their own beds by the year 2050. Echo: Snooze gonna drive you home (4)
BBC: Wake me up before we go home (0) FEBRUARY 19: Amazing mum Deborah Jefferies completes her 101st Parkrun in Darlington the day before she’s due to give birth.

She also happened to be pushing her toddler in a buggy. Echo: Baby, we were born to run (6)
BBC: I’m gonna run til due (0) The Northern Echo:

FEBRUARY 20: A new set of stamps has been issued to coincide with the release of the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die. Echo: Lick and let die (6)
BBC: You only deliver twice (6) FEBRUARY 21: Russian soldier Denis Kazantsev proposes to girlfriend Alexandra Kopytova by arranging 16 tanks in a heart shape at a military base near Moscow. 

Echo: I’m gunner make you love me (8)
BBC: Tanks for the marry me (8) WEEK 9 FEBRUARY 24: A video clip of George, the goose, meeting new girlfriend, Florence, has gone viral.

The film, posted on social media by Dolly Theis, of Cambridge, shows George flapping and honking in excitement as he waddles off with Florence. Echo: Gander love you so (0)
BBC: The first time feather I saw your face (2) FEBRUARY 25: TV weatherman Justin Hinton was left red-faced after accidentally activating a ‘funny faces filter’ on the camera while reporting live from North Carolina.

He ended up presenting the weather from snow-hit Ashville in various guises including a wizard and a cat. Echo: Blunder the weather (1)
BBC: Meteor-LOL-ogist (2) The Northern Echo:

FEBRUARY 26: A border collie from Northumberland has broken the world record for the most expensive sheepdog. Megan, trained near Morpeth by sheperdess Emma Gray sold for GBP18,900 at auction in Skipton, North Yorkshire, and will now be used to herd Wagyu cattle in Oklahoma. Echo: Get bitch quick (1)
BBC: Border Lolly (3)

FEBRUARY 27: Surrey Police have come up with a novel way of trying to track down criminals – by using a “crepe artist” to create the faces of wanted law-breakers in pancakes. Echo: Wanted for battery (1)
BBC: The Crepe Crusader (7) FEBRUARY 28: A new study at Louisiana State University has revealed that feline-friendly music can help keep cats calm during visits to the vet’s.

Echo: (Snack for my tabby oh) There’s Whiskas in the jar (1)
BBC: Neuter me are everything (9) WEEK 10 MARCH 2: A job has been circulated by a dog food company to find a pooch to become its official taste tester.

The successful four-legged candidate must have an “outgoing personality” and be confident enough to feature in social media videos. The contract includes free dog food and snacks throughout 2020. Echo: Chappie New Year (0)
BBC: Bone appetite (1)

MARCH 3: An American company has invented a voice-activated dog collar that translates dogs’ barks into swear words. The “Cuss Collar” means your dog will curse every time it barks. Echo: Growl-mouthed (1)
BBC: His bark is curse than his bite (1)

MARCH 4: An Australian amateur gardener has been left devastated after watering a plant for two years, only to discover it’s artificial. Caili Wilkes had a strict regime involving watering the plant at the same time every day and making sure it had the right amount of sunlight. It was only when she went to re-pot it that she discovered it was an ornament.

Echo: Pot the difference (2)
BBC: Never take things for planted (2) MARCH 5: A mystery woman has enlisted the help of a North-East fast food shop to propose on the lid of a box delivering a parmo. The woman ordered the parmo from The Silver Cod Norton & asked staff to write WILL YOU MARRY ME? on the underside of the lid before delivering it to North Tees General Hospital.

Echo: Love on the box (2)
BBC: Cheesy lover (4) The Northern Echo: MARCH 6: Police in Melbourne are hunting a thief who stole a Versace necklace from a designer jewellery store by using a fishing rod.

The criminal was able to poke the rod through a window, hook the necklace off the neck of a mannequin and reel it in. Echo: Crook, line and sinker (4)
BBC: Deadly snatch (4) WEEK 11

March 9: Politicians call for calm after police were summoned to a supermarket in Sydney to break up a fight between three women over the last toilet roll amid panic over coronavirus. Echo: But these tissue fights are the longest (0)
BBC: Rolling, rolling rollin, gets those toilet rolls in – backside! (6) March 10: A student in Florida caused panic when he mistook a police pepper spray for his anti-perspirant in the school gym.

The building had to be evacuated after the student sprayed himself all over and 41 pupils had to be treated for minor injuries. Echo: Blunderarm deodorant (0)
BBC: Sergeant Pepper’s only armpit brand (8) March 11: Magnus, the labrador, has become an internet star because of the way he helps his owner go through his fitness routines in New York.

Echo: Pet’s get physical (2)
BBC: Couch to five canine (8) March 12: A mum in Leeds has revealed that her son has been suspended from school for selling squirts of hand sanitiser to other pupils for 50p a go. He made GBP9 and spent it on buying a kebab.

The suspension has caused a furore on social media with people saying he should be applauded for being an entrepreneur. Echo: It’s a doner deal (2)
BBC: What a little squirt (9) The Northern Echo:

March 13: A man known as “The Devon Pirate” is to have a spectacular send-off after dying at the age of 63. Clive Mencarini was a huge fan of the Brixham Pirate Festival and his family have arranged for his ashes to be fired out to sea from a cannon on the main stage at the event on May 2. Echo: The Blast Hurraaaaagh! (3)
BBC: Shiver me embers (9)

WEEK 12 March 16: Police in Florida have issued ‘Wanted’ posters in a bid to catch a cow that’s been on the loose for three months because it’s too fast to be caught and keeps outrunning them. Echo: Moo Farah (0)
BBC: Catch a moo moo (2)

March 17: A new world record has been set for the deepest underground music concert. The Shaft Bottom Boys played the gig at 6,213 feet below sea level at Vale’s Creighton Mine in Ontario, where they drill for nickel. Echo: We drill, we drill, rock you (2)
BBC: I love rock and hole (1)

The Northern Echo: March 18: An American woman has revealed on the internet that she has spent the past few days mistakenly washing her hands with a block of cheese.
Miley from Vancouver, thought she was doing her bit to combat coronavirus by thoroughly washing her hands with a bar of soap. Echo: Cheesy lather (2)
BBC: Imperial Cheddar (2)

March 19: A cat nicknamed Hercule Poirot because of its distinctive black moustache is looking for a new home. The pussy is recovering at an RPSCA animal hospital in Putney after fracturing its legs in a fall. Echo: Purr-der on the Orient Express (4)
BBC: Mog-atha Christie (2)

March 20: When farmer Kris Garrett realised his 11 chickens were getting bored, he attached a xylophone to their coop in Colorado and discovered they had musical talents. Echo: Cluck ‘n spiel (5)
BBC: Le beak, le chic (2) WEEK 13

March 23: A Plymouth vicar, The Reverend Stephen Beach, accidentally set himself on fire when he got too close to the candles during an online sermon. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt. Echo: A Blazing Grace (0)
BBC: Smoke on the altar (2)

March 24: Dogs the world over can’t stop wagging their tails with happiness because their owners are having to spend more time at home with them. One pet pooch, called Rolo, from Essex, wagged so hard, he’s sprained his tail. Echo: Waggy Schnauzers (0)
BBC: Try a wiggle tenderness (4)

The Northern Echo: March 25: Police on the Spanish island of Mallorca have been serenading citizens in quarantine. Echo: Living La Vida lockdown (2)
BBC: Don’t stand so close to me (by The Police) (4)

March 26: A lonely man living in isolation in New York managed to flirt with a girl he saw dancing on a nearby apartment rooftop by sending her his telephone number by drone and asking if she’d like to meet when the coronavirus crisis is over. She sent Jeremy Cohen a text back saying YES. Echo: Droner of a lonely heart (4)
BBC: Love is in the air (4)

March 27: A Mexican man in isolation has started sending his dog to the shopping. It began when Antonio Munoz attached a letter and a £20 note to the collar of his pet chihuahua called Chokis and the pooch returned from the nearby shop with the requested bag of crisps. Echo: Fleas and onion (4)
BBC: Barkin’ hunt (6)

WEEK 14 March 30: On May 16, a crescent moon, beneath Venus and Jupiter, will form a smiley face in the sky. Sadly, it will only be visible from the USA and Canada, but we can still all smile along.

Echo: Put on a happy space (2)
BBC: Nasal Attraction (0) APRIL 1: A man in America is hoping to improve his chances of finding a match on dating site Tinder by updating his profile to include photos that show off his ample supply of toilet rolls. IT worker Jameson MacInnis, of Connecticut, hopes the piles of loo rolls will make him more attractive to women.

Echo: Wipe right (4)
BBC: Love me Tinder (2) APRIL 2: Romantic scuba diver Ethan Studenic proposes to girlfriend Morgan Whittaker with a ring cunningly hidden inside a shell she thought he’d found on the seabed in the Caribbean. Echo: Espe-shell-y for you (6)
BBC: You can ring my shell (2)

APRIL 3: A company boss chairing a video conference call to check on business progress was left red-faced after accidentally activating a fun filter on her computer. Lizet Ocampo didn’t know how to turn the filter off .so she went through the entire meeting in Washington DC as a potato. Echo: Hey, spud looking, what you got cooking? (6)
BBC: You make me peel like a natural woman (4)

The Northern Echo: WEEK 15         APRIL 6: Lambs have been taking advantage of a playground in Preston being deserted during the lockdown by having fun on the roundabout.

Echo: Ewe spin me right round, baby, right round (2)
BBC: I’d like to teach the wool to spin (0) APRIL 7: A woman has told how it was love at first sight when she met her boyfriend while he was in character as a velociraptor at Universal Studios in Orlando. Megan Emerson says he boyfriend always finds a way to say hello even when he’s in costume.

Echo: I’ll be raptor round your finger (4)
BBC: Jurassic sparks (4) APRIL 8: The lockdown is having a positive impact on the love lives of zoo animals. With zoos closed, animals are taking advantage of the greater privacy to get all steamy.

For example, pandas Le Le and Ying Ying have mated naturally for the first time in 10 years at Ocean Park Zoo in Hong Kong. And Whipsnade Zoo is hopeful of an elephant pregnancy. Echo: Panda love you so (4)
BBC: The Karma Zootra (6)

The Northern Echo: APRIL 9: People all over the world are dressing up and serenading their neighbours while putting the bins out to raise a smile during the extended lockdown. Echo: How long has this bin going on? (4)
BBC: Trash dance (10)

WEEK 16 APRIL 14: Staff at a North-East racing stable have reworked the Village People hit YMCA as a tribute to the NHS. A video of the song and dance routine at Michael Dods Racing stable, at Denton, near Darlington, has gone viral.

Echo: Y.M.C.Neigh (2)
BBC:  Red, red equine (0) APRIL 15: A pensioner who was given a ride in a French fighter jet as a surprise retirement gift got more than he bargained for. As the plane went into a steep ascent, he gripped on for dear life, and accidentally pulled the ejector seat lever.

He rocketed out of the cockpit and landed with his parachute near the German border with only minor injuries. Echo: Over and ouuuuuuuut! (3)
BBC: It’ll be alright on the flight (0) APRIL 16: A couple from Hungary, called Fanni and Norbert, are passing the time during the lockdown by recreating scenes from Hollywood blockbusters using toilet rolls and kitchen utensils.

Echo: Bram Stoker’s Spatula (7)
BBC: Sieve and let die (6)The Northern Echo: APRIL 17: BBC weather man Owain Wyn Evans has gone viral after signing off his forecast by brilliantly playing the drums to the BBC News theme. Looking for headlines that combine the weather and drumming.

Echo: Here comes drummer (7)
BBC: Drumming up a storm (8) WEEK 17 APRIL 20: Twenty members of Washington Running Club were due to fly to Dublin for a stag do, comprising a Parkrun and pub crawl.

When it was all cancelled due to coronavirus, they held a virtual stag do – going on individual 5k runs and posting pictures of themselves supping Guinness in fancy dress. Echo: Lap-rechauns (2)
BBC: In the Emerald Isle-olation (0) The Northern Echo:

APRIL 21: Big-hearted fundraiser Tony Marshall, of Darlington Rotary Club, has raised valuable funds for charity by shaving off the beard he’s worn for 52 years. It’s the first time his wife Kathy has seen him without facial hair in 41 years. She doesn’t like being married to a “stranger” and she’s offered GBP50 if he grows it back.

Echo: There may be stubble ahead (2)
BBC: Stay home, shave lives (1) APRIL 22: TV news reporter Melinda Meza has gone viral after filming a news bulletin in Sacramento in which she was showing how to cut your own hair – not realising that viewers could see a reflection of her naked husband in the shower. Echo: Have I got nudes for you (2)
BBC: Nudesflash (2)

APRIL 23: Scottish farmer Bobby Lennox has paid a unique tribute to frontline care workers by herding his flock of 150 sheep to spell out NHS on a hillside at Luss. He used a quad bike to round them up and sheep feed to get them to stay in position. Echo: Flockdown (3)
BBC: Best baaaaa none (2)

APRIL 24: Thomas, the pet pooch, has become an internet star in New York, after his owner Ben Campbell posted a picture of him stealing a set of false teeth from the table and running around with a huge smile. Echo: Because I’m yappy (5)
BBC: Pup on a happy face (2) WEEK 18

APRIL 27: Two dustbin men have become internet stars after being filmed showing off their football skills during their round in Sittingbourne, Kent. One of the men is filmed taking a free-kick and scoring in the top corner of the bin wagon. Echo: Binned it like Beckham
BBC: Roberto Binbaggio (0)

April 28: A German company is advertising ‘affordable homes’, costing GBP40,000, which are clad with a susbtance made from animal poo. Echo: The first dung on the ploperty ladder (6)
BBC: A place in the bum (4) April 29: Police in northern Spain have arrested a man for taking his goldfish for a walk during the lockdown.

He was accused of taking advantage of a rule that allows people to give their pets a break. Echo: A fish called wanderer (6)
BBC: Fish and trips (5) April 30: Thomas The Tank Engine is to star in a special Royal episode to mark his 75th anniversary.

Thomas will be off to London for the first time to take Sir Topham Hat – The Fat Controller – to Buckingham Palace for an honour. The episode, featuring The Queen & Prince Charles, and introduced by Prince Harry, will be screened on Channel 5 on May 2… Echo: The tracks of my years (8)
BBC: Tanks for the memories (5)

The Northern Echo: May 1: Amanda Zarabozo & Charles Leiss love their pet pigs, Lily and Lucy, so much they let them share their bed. The couple, from Connecticut, also plan to give the pigs key roles at their wedding – one as bridesmaid and the other as ring-bearer.

Echo: Is this the way to ham a pillow (8)
BBC: The pig sleep (9) WEEK 19  May 4: Animal-lovers are asked to send videos to a Japanese aquarium to remind garden eels that humans exist.

Staff at Sumida Aquarium have noticed the eels burrowing into sand when they walk past, leading to fears they are becoming reclusive during the lockdown. To reassure them, people are being asked to send videos in which they wave and chat to the eels. Echo: Eel meet again (4)
BBC: You picked a fine time to stream you, you eels (0)

MAY 5: Evah Byrne, 9, of Hurworth-on-Tees, is raising money for her gymnastics club at Newton Aycliffe by cartwheeling a total of 12.5 miles – the distance from her home to the club. She’s doing it in batches of 250 over 26 days. Echo: Girl, you wheely got me going (4)
BBC:  The wheel of fortune (6)

The Northern Echo: MAY 6: A family of life-sized dummies, with a police officer checking they are following social distancing rules, has appeared on the road between Bishopton and Redmarshall. Echo: The long arm of the straw (5)
BBC: Hay home, save lives (6)

MAY 7: An investigation into vandalism to a children’s play area in Staindrop has concluded that the culprit is an itchy horse scratching its bum on the perimeter fence. Echo: Scratch of the day (7)
BBC: Post scratch analysis (6) WEEK 20

MAY 11: Queen guitarist Brian May had to go to hospital after tearing muscles in his buttocks during ‘over-enthusiastic’ gardening… Echo: Weeds will, weeds will, crock you (4)
BBC:  Oh Maria, Maria, I cannot let you grow (0) MAY 12: A suspect on the run from police gave away his hiding place in a bush when he loudly broke wind.

Officers had pursued the man into woods in Haworth, Doncaster, and were able to make an arrest thanks to his flatulence. Echo: The pong arm of the law (4)
BBC: You have the right to remain silent but deadly (1) MAY 13: Ron, the bull, blacked out 800 homes in Lanarkshire when he scratched his bottom on an electricity pole, knocked off a transformer, and narrowly escaped an 11,000-volt shock.

Echo: A shock and bull story (5)
BBC: Cattle grid (1) MAY 14: Retired fireman Kevin Simpson has scooped £1m – all because his lawn mower ran out of fuel. He went to the shop in North Carolina and bought a scratchcard while he was there.

Echo: Magic mow-ments (7)
BBC: Millionaire’s mow (1) The Northern Echo: May 15: An entrepreneur has launched a “pub on wheels” in London to ease the lockdown.

Peter Brown, of the Forest Road Brewing Company, serves people on their doorsteps by filling pint glasses from a tap on the side of his van, which is labelled “Tactical Beer Response Unit”. Echo: One for the road (8)
BBC: Knock, knock, brew’s there (1) WEEK 21        

MAY 16: A Florida parking lot has been turned into a drive-through wedding venue so couples can get married without getting out of their car during the pandemic. Echo: Til death us do park (0)
BBC: Park and bride (1) MAY 17: Newly-weds Jim Rice and Sandra Scott were in bed together in Queensland when they were disturbed by a thief aiming to steal their car keys.

The couple ran downstairs – stark naked – and made a citizens’ arrest. Echo: Buff justice (0)
BBC: Wedding tackled (2) MAY 18: Builder Nick Smith was told by his partner Jess to “tastefully” decorate their living room in Bexley, London, while was was out.

So he and their children spent hours sticking 6,000 Gummy Bears to the wall. She wasn’t best pleased. Echo: Home sweet home (1)
BBC: Candy fix it?

Yes he can (2) MAY 19: Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn Art, who uses foodstuffs and household items to create works of art, has produced a portrait of comedian Matt Lucas on a baked potato. Echo: One for the Taty Modern (2)
BBC: He smashed it (2)

The Northern Echo: WEEK 22 MAY 22: Emergency services were called to a highway in Tenessee after a truck spilled 40,000 pounds of mac and cheese.

Echo: Hit the road mac, and don’t you come back no more (4)
BBC: Bechamel more golly wow (2) MAY 26: Armed police are called to a Welsh beauty spot after reports of a man acting suspiciously. It turns out to be Dungeon and Dragons fan Lennon Thomas dressed up as a medieval knight, wielding a 3-foot toy sword near Hendre Lake, Cardiff.

Echo: Knight patrol (0)
BBC: A knight’s jail (4) MAY 27: A woman, who was told she couldn’t be served at a post office in Kiev because she wasn’t wearing a face mask, promptly took her trousers off, removed her knickers, and put them over her head. Echo: A strip of stamps (0)
BBC: Briefs at counters (6)

MAY 28: Tom Hartshorne, of Eaglescliffe, has landed his first hole in one at Rockliffe Hall – at the age of 10. Echo: The boy one-der (4)
BBC: Rockliffe One Tommy (6) The Northern Echo:

MAY 29: A pigeon has been arrested as a suspected spy by Government officials in India. The bird is reported to have been carrying a coded message so is thought to be a secret agent. Echo: Live and let fly (8)
BBC: Coo-ed breaker (6)

WEEK 23 JUNE 1: As racing returns Newcastle Racecourse on Monday, retired racehorse Barney McGrew has been given his own blog, writing about life behind the scenes at Michael Dods Racing. Echo: Trot off the press (1)
BBC: Hoof I got news for you (0)

The Northern Echo: JUNE 2: A swan from a long line of feathered felons is terrorising punters on the River Cam in Cambridge, pecking them, stealing food, and even trying to pinch handbags. The swan, called Asbaby, is the grandson of a viscious swan named Mr Asbo.

Echo: Public enemy number swan (3)
BBC: Wind your neck in (0) JUNE 3: Animal lover Scott Perry has married his pet cat, Olivia, in Florida to raise money for an animal sanctuary. Echo: Catrimony (3)
BBC: I can’t fight this feline any more (2)

JUNE 4: Ronnie Canvin is one of Britain’s oldest paper boys at 78. Ronnie delivers papers in Willington, County Durham, and hasn’t let the pandemic stop him making his deliveries. Echo: Old the front page (3)
BBC: Read old about it (3)

JUNE 5: Schoolchildren have started sending love letters and drawings to a lonely fish at an aquarium in Queensland after it became depressed during the lockdown. The grouper, called Chang, has cheered up since pupils from Torbanlea State School became his penpals. Echo: Love is the sweetest fin (3)
BBC: The fins we do for love (5)

WEEK 24 JUNE 8: Rabbits Bugsy and Roger have got married in a ceremony at an Irish hotel. The wedding was staged at Newpark Hotel, in Kilkenny, to promote its scheduled reopening on July 20.

Echo: Beg, steal or burrow (0)
BBC: Some old, something new, something burrowed, something blue (2) JUNE 9: A theme park in San Diego has employed a collection of stuffed animals to keep its Giant Dipper roller coaster operating during the lockdown. The ride has to be tested every day so the animals – including teddy bears, elephants, and a leopard – have been replacing real passengers.

Echo: When the going gets tough, the stuffed get going (2)
BBC: Bear-knuckle ride (2) JUNE 10: Tow Law Town Football Club is to benefit from a cash windfall to help repair its ground that has been damaged by a sink hole. Echo: They sink it’s whole over (4)
BBC: Money makes no hole in the ground (2)

JUNE 11: Noel Edmonds is launching a radio station in New Zealand – for house plants. Music played to house plants helps them grow, apparently. So what song would you play them?

Echo: Yucca grow your own way (6)
BBC: More than a seedling (2) The Northern Echo: JUNE 12: Two squirrels and an owl have been filmed having a squabble over who lives in a cosy hole in a tree in Kensington Gardens in London.

So far, the owl appears to be winning. Echo: Knock, knock, twit-twoo’s there? (6)
BBC: Trees a crowd (3) WEEK 25

JUNE 15: A disgruntled man says he can’t sleep because a mystery prankster is ordering 10 pizzas a day to be delivered to his house. Belgian Jean Van Landesghem has vowed to track down the joker, warning “it will not be his best day” when he’s caught. Echo: Stroppy Guiseppe (0)
BBC: Pan out of order (1)

JUNE 16: Police in Pakistan have arrested a donkey as part of an investigation into illegal gambling. The donkey was taken into custody along with eight men suspected of breaking the law by betting on a donkey race. Echo: Let’s get Neddy to gamble (2)
BBC: Eee-always gets the blame (1)

JUNE 17: Florida clergyman Bill Losasso has spent his 73rd birthday driving an ice cream van round town and handing out hundreds of ice creams and lollies. Echo: Vicar bocker glory (3)
BBC: Feeding the hundreds and thousands (1) JUNE 18: School librarian Kelly Passek is using a drone to deliver books to students during the lockdown in Virginia.

Echo: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Drone (3)
BBC: The Game of Drones (5) The Northern Echo: JUNE 19: A South Carolina man won £500,000 on a lottery scratch card after stopping at a service station because his wife needed a toilet break.

Echo: Urine the money (3)
BBC: Serendipi-pee (9) WEEK 26 JUNE 22: A woman has taken to social media to show surveillance camera footage of what she believes is the ghost of her dead cat Blackjack, materialising on her sofa.

Echo: The Phantom of the O-purr-a (0)
BBC: Catspar the friendly ghost (4) The Northern Echo: JUNE 23: A gin bar, designed around an aviation theme, is to open in Newton Aycliffe.

The Aviator Gin Bar, built in a hangar, features old aeroplane parts and a hot air balloon, with customers served by cabin crew. Echo: Spirit in the sky (0)
BBC: Tonic boom (5)   JUNE 24: Russian woman Elena Kolacheva has been using her Staffordshire bull terrier, Hanna, to recreate famous works of art.

Echo: Bona Lisa (4)
BBC: Lamp-post impressionism (5) JUNE 25: A retirement village has opened in New South Wales, where cows can live out their days in luxury, including being serenaded with soothing music… Echo: Wherever I lay my pat, that’s my home (6)
BBC: Under the moooon of love (5)

JUNE 26: Trixie, the pet ferret, was brought back from the dead with a hair-dryer after falling into her owner’s toilet in New South Wales and getting trapped under the lid. Trixie was clinically dead but was saved when owner Xavier Hamilton,16, and his mum Lorraine gave her the kiss of life and then used the hairdryer to warm her up. Echo: I can’t help falling in lav with you (6)
BBC: Live and let dry (11)

WEEK 27 JUNE 29: NASA has launched a competition, with a first prize of £35,000, to come up with a new design for a space toilet. Echo: One small step for man, a giant leak for mankind (1)
BBC: The seat of tranquility (0)

JUNE 30: Museums across the world have launched a “Best Bum” competition. The fun contest has drawn 100s of entries on social media from a range of exhibits, including statues, paintings, & photos with the hashtag #bestmuseumbum Echo: Is that a Botty-celli? (1)
BBC: Pablo Pic-asso (1)

JULY 1: The British military steps into a diplomatic row with America over how to make a cup of tea. The Americans retaliate by showing how to make coffee. Echo: Brew dares wins (7)
BBC: Battle grounds (1)

The Northern Echo: JULY 2: A group of nuns are selling beer for charity. The School Sisters of St Francis are setting up a drive-through beer garden in Milwaukee on July 11 to raise money to pay for clean water at missions in poverty-stricken countries.

Echo: Sisters are brewing it for themselves (7)
BBC: Ale Mary (2) JULY 3: Lifeboat rescuers were called out to save a disorientated runaway horse that swam more than a mile out to see at County Donegal. Echo: Neigh-watch (9)
BBC: Finding Neigh-mo (2)

WEEK 28 JULY 6: A couple of newly-weds had to be rescued by lifeguards after being swept into the sea by a giant wave while having their wedding pictures taken at Laguna Beach, California. Echo: Wave only just begun (2)
BBC: A now we exchange life-rings (0)

JULY 7: A woman caused chaos at a Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-thru at Kirkcaldy in Scotland when her horsebox got jammed. Echo: Ken-stuck-y Fried Chicken (3)
BBC: Neigh luck at KFC (0) The Northern Echo:

JULY 8: Bruno the bear has walked 400 miles across America in search of love but still hasn’t found a mate. Echo: (Let me be) your steady bear (5)
BBC: Baloo-ser in love (0) JULY 9: A large number of pigs caused traffic chaos in Virginia when they escaped from a trailer and ran loose on the highway…

Echo: Four-squeal drive (6)
BBC: Rash hour (0) JULY 10: A six-year-old girl, fishing with her family in a river in Maryland, reeled in her first catch of the day – a mobile telephone. Reagan Votaw discovered the phone was still working and it has now been reunited with its owner, a schoolboy who dropped it into the Severn River while kayaking.

Echo: Angling on the telephone (6)
BBC: What’s herring tone? (1) WEEK 29 JULY 13: Pop star Lewis Capaldi orders a pizza to be delivered to Darlington station when his train stops while he’s travelling to London.

Echo: The feast coast main line (1)
BBC: Before you dough (0) JULY 14: A cow that became stranded at the Crammel Lin waterfall, near Gilsland, on the Northumberland/Cumbria border, has been airlifted to safety by an RAF helicopter. Echo: Mooooooving on up (1)
BBC: You braise me up (2)

The Northern Echo: JULY 15: Florida man Michael Womer, known as the Gator Crusader, sings and reads to alligators to calm them down during the pandemic. Echo: Don’t worry – be snappy (3)
BBC: Crocodile snooze (2)

JULY 16: A British wine distributor is advertising for an official wine taster to be paid £300 to sample and review its range of summer wines.  Echo: I earned it through the grapevine (3)
BBC: Working wine til five (6) JULY 17: Officers get a shock when a cow wanders into a police station in Doomadgee, Queensland, in Australia.

Echo: Friesian – you’re under arrest (3)
BBC: The thin moo line (8) WEEK 30 JULY 20: A Gothic-style vampire slaying kit, complete with a pistol, knife, shark teeth, Bible and carved wolf, is expected to fetch around GBP3k at auction.

Online bidders have until July 21 to buy the kit which is Lot 3162 at Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers in Derby. Echo: Fangs a lot (1)
BBC: Van Sell-things (4) The Northern Echo:

JULY 21: A Florida man has been trapped inside a bird sanctuary since March with only 200 parrots for company. Majid Esmaeili can’t get out of the building following a court order to lock all the doors due to a dispute over access to the property. Echo: You’ll never squawk alone (3)
BBC: Screech for the sky (4)

JULY 22: Monstro, the fish, has been nursed back to health by his new owner, Lacey Scott, after she rescued him from a Kansas pet shop where he’d turned blue. Lacey created a ‘fish hospital’ with a bigger tank, aquarium salt, daily water changes, and other fish for company. He’s now regained his gold colour and is doing back flips.

Echo: Tank you for being a friend (3)
BBC: Fins can only get better (6) JULY 23: A life-sized concrete pig, stolen from outside an Oklahoma restaurant, has been returned – with a missing ear. Echo: Piggy back (3)
BBC: Pig back (8)

JULY 24: A couple called Karen and Colin, who appeared on today’s Bargain Hunt on BBC1, told viewers they’d met through their joint interest as paranormal investigators. Echo: Bargain haunt (3)
BBC: Ghouling, ghouling gone (9) WEEK 31

JULY 27: The Queen (on a motorbike) and Boris Johnson (on a tricycle) are among the exhibits at the Hurworth Scarecrow Festival. Echo: Scare to the throne (0)
BBC: Heir we crow again (2) The Northern Echo:

JULY 28: The South Causey Inn, near Stanley, in County Durham, has started a cinema club on Saturdays – serving a combination of movies and afternoon teas. Echo: Scone With The Wind (0)
BBC: Bravetart (4) JULY 29: A rare blue lobster, nicknamed Clawde, has been given a second chance of life after a restaurant worker refused to cook him and donated him to a zoo in Ohio.

Echo: Clawde have mercy (1)
BBC: Shellebrate good times, come on (4) JULY 30: An Australian man has won the lottery on the same day his wife had a baby. The unidentified man, from St Leonards, in New South Wales, won £70,000 dollars after buying a ticket on his wife’s due date because he was feeling lucky.

Echo: Cash on delivery (5)
BBC: Jackpotty (4) JULY 31: A giraffe called Forest has been officially named as the world’s tallest giraffe at 5.7 metres despite his keepers at Australia Zoo having a devil’s job to make him stand still to be measured. He’s also a ladies’ man, with three girlfriends and 10 children.

Echo: Neck’s long, neck’s long, you’re a sex bomb (7)
BBC: He’s having a giraffe (4) WEEK 32 AUGUST 3: Loving dad Douglas Smith has gone to extraordinary lengths to live up to his four-year-old son Stellan’s challenge to grow him a sunflower ‘as tall as a house’.

Douglas used scaffolding to support the sunflower that has grown to 20 feet and is thought to be the tallest in Britain. Echo: Let it grow (2)
BBC: The House of the Rising Sunflower (0) AUGUST 4: Singing volunteer Jason Wilson, from Norton, is striking a chord with patients on Teesside, brightening up their day with regular musical performances.

Echo: Like a surgeon (4)
BBC: The Consultants of Swing (0) The Northern Echo: AUGUST 5: Two friends, Wanda and Bev, went whale watching off the coast of Newfoundland but had no luck until Bev started playing a guitar and singing.

Incredibly, several whales came to the surface and circled their boat. Echo: Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-le…You know you make me wanna spout! (6)
BBC: Whale away (0) AUGUST 6: Romantic waiter Albert Ndreu decided to propose to girlfriend Valeria Madevic by arranging 100 tealight candles to spell ‘MARRY ME’.

It ended in disaster when the candles set fire to their flat in Sheffield while he was picking her up for work. It was completed gutted but she still said yes. Echo: Stop – in the flame of love (6)
BBC: Burning love (2)

AUGUST 7: A tourist snapped three toes off a 19th century sculpture at the Antonio Canova Museum in Possagno, Italy, while posing for a photo. He’s been tracked down and faces having to pay compensation. Echo: Who’s gonna foot the bill? (6)
BBC: Footloose (6)

WEEK 33 AUGUST 10: A German nudist, who was bathing near a Berlin lake, had to spring into action when a wild boar stole his bag containing his clothes and laptop. The unidentified man had the last laugh when he chased the boar and recovered the bag.

Echo: Boar-faced cheek (1)
BBC: Streaky bacon (0)

The Northern Echo: