Friday, 18 April 2008

Pesky Tesco: Tough 'Love' in Thailand

We won't be shopping at Tesco anytime soon. It's not really a hardship. There isn't one nearby. We're in Co-Op/Somerfield/M&S Simply Food/Sainsbury's territory. Still, it makes me feel better to think I'm boycotting the supermarket giant.

And why? Because its Thai subsidiary, Tesco Lotus, is suing two journalists for allegedly printing anti-Tesco statements. The dispute centers on Tesco's expansion in Thailand and the fear that it is harming homegrown stores. The latest libel case involves a business columnist named Nongnart Harnvilai, who in a tongue-in-cheek piece wrote that Tesco Lotus "doesn't love Thais." The supermarket chain is asking for 1.6 million pounds in damages.

Will Tesco Lotus have to prove in court that it does "love" Thais, and if so, how? Does it buy them chocolates? Take them dancing? Bear their children? Care for them on their deathbeds? It's a crazy allegation, designed to stifle a free press in a country that has a shaky enough grasp on these kinds of things without the local subsidiary of a British corporate giant entering the fray.

So I won't be shopping there. Hasn't Tesco been testing the waters in the U.S. too? If so, where's the love?

BritNews RoundUp
This may be the single most important article printed in any newspaper this week: Research has shown that "drummers are natural intellectuals." I knew it all along and will be packing a copy of the Daily Telegraph story in my drumstick bag to show to all those snooty guitarists and pampered lead singers in the future. Okay, maybe the "intellectual" tag is a bit of a stretch. I think of an intellectual as a nearsighted, leather elbow-patched professor droning on about Habermas and Derrida, not a drummer in a black sleeveless Motley Crue T-shirt. Still, researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet had subjects tap a drumstick while answering 60 psychometric questions. Those who could keep better time were better at answering them. Take that, Bono.

The British love getting drunk. And when they get drunk, they like doing interesting things. Some of them involve sex with inanimate objects--regular readers of this blog will remember fences, bicycles, lamp posts, Members of Parliament. And some of them involve reaching out in unusual ways to our mammalian brethren. Or sistren, for "Dave," a wild bottlenose dolphin often spotted off Folkestone coast, is actually a female. And it was Dave with whom two British men were convicted of "interfering" after an all-night drinking party. (The men were drinking; Dave, we assume, was sober.)

Michael Jukes, a 27-year-old pipefitter, told Dover Magistrates' Court: "It was approaching us. We were touching it, but not in an aggressive way. I was not hurting it." The court thought otherwise, fining Jukes and Daniel Buck 750 pounds. Dave did not testify and she hasn't been spotted since the incident.

While we're in the water, a British sailor who got into a spot of trouble while 700 miles off the coast of New Zealand knew exactly whom to call: His wife. When Tony Curphey's sailboat starting taking on water, he radioed his wife Susanne, who was in another sailboat about 150 miles away. He said he didn't want to trouble rescue services. I don't know what's odder, the fact that Curphey called his wife, or that the two of them are sailing around the world in separate boats. Perhaps that's the secret of a long marriage.

A 93-year-old former Pentecostal minister from Glamorgan has decided to give up driving after flipping his Ford Fiesta while driving through an auto dealer's parking lot. Jack Higgs was uninjured but the same can't be said of the two Porsches his car landed on top of.

Gargoyle Roman Appendages of the Week
The Italians just don't do gargoyles. I thought I'd collect a bunch but I didn't see a single one. Of course, the Romans have plenty of old statues. Many of the statues have seen better days, though. Like this one, from the Vatican Museum:

And this one:

I think this was my favorite, though:

A big big toe. There's probably more beauty in that big toe than in a hundred lesser sculptures. If it hadn't been about the size of a medicine ball, and just as unwieldy, I would have snuck it under my coat and back to my hotel room. It's just toe-riffic.

Have a great weekend. There's rain in the forecast here, but I hope it's sunny wherever you are.


mark from alexandria said...

The dolphin love story was amazing. Do you think the popefitter did the whole thing "on porpoise" just to get into your blog? Thanks again for the great sculpted extremities. Where else would we get this stuff?

Boutros said...

that toe is awesome. I wish mine were as pretty.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

No rain here - it's spring, and it's gorgeous. Don't you miss it?

Candadai Tirumalai said...

I believe one sometimes has to go to more than one European museum to see different parts of the same statue.

John Whiting said...

John, would you please email me? I have a question about your Guardian column and this is the only way I can find to reach you. My email address is in my blogger ID.

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