11 JANUARY 1992, Page 36




Headline story


n Competition No. 1709 you were in- vited to provide a news item to fit the headline: ACROBAT ADMITS.

If anyone wants to read the novel of this title, it was published by William Heine- mann in the 1950s but the author's name, though he was a friend at the time, continues to elude me. What I can remem- ber is that it features no acrobat, not even an acrobatic moment, just as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has nothing remotely to do with either. It was not a great entry. I refused to accept Mr Major as an acrobat simply by virtue of his dad's trapeze work. The five prizewinners (£15 each) are printed below. The bonus bottle of Chivas Regal 12-year-old deluxe blended whisky goes to George Moor, who is in hospital. May he soon be out.

Mr Tomas 0 Fiach, the Irish acrobat, has caused consternation in international art circles with his admission that the Michelangelo paintings unco- vered in 1962 in the side Sistine Chapel are the work of his hands — and feet.

'My only excuse is my extreme youth at the time', said the grey-haired performer. 'And I took a real delight in the way all the experts

were fooled, though I'd put in a bicycle, and a yo-yo in St Paul's hand, and a green post-box by St Patrick'.

The Vatican press office maintains a dignified `No comment', but from the inner circle o f monsignori it is believed that Pope John Paul Is extremely annoyed. Cardinal Paraffini, in charge of fine arts in 1962, has been moved to Greenland, despite his advanced age, and the Pontiff's New Year visit to the Italian State Circus where Mr 0 Fiach is performing has been

cancelled. (George Moor) ACROBAT (The Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Bats) now admits that it was 'in error' when it turned a blind eye to the deconsecration plans announced for St Swithun's Church, Uffcalme. 'The Association was slow to realise that the plans had implica- tions for the belfry,' a spokesperson conceded.

A leading member of BATON, a rival group, was scornful yesterday: `It is a well-known fact that deconsecration is just the first step in a process that must inevitably lead to the wholesale destruction of one of the most bat- friendly environments in the country', he said. (St Swithun's has played host to the bat for four centuries.) There are plans to convert the church into luxury flats and the extensive graveyard into a Bat Theme Park.

'This is just adding insult to injury,' said


`We would need to study the plans first, before committing ourselves,' said ACROBAT.

(Jim Yorke) A West Midlands police sergeant has invented a hand-held decoder for overriding electronic door locks to admit the emergency services. Jim Burgess, a detective sergeant in Coventry, has been working on the 'Acrobat' decoder since last April, when he was unable to prevent a murder on the notorious Leofric Estate because he did not know the combination of a front-door lock on a tower block.

Fire and ambulance officers are enthusiastic about the new device, but others are less certain. 'The Acrobat must not be allowed to stray into the wrong hands,' warned a spokesman for the Institute of Security Consultants. `Imagine what would happen if it fell into the possession of criminals or the Serious Crimes Squad!'

(Jacqueline Smith) Last Sunday we told you about the vicar's four daughters who claimed to have had simul- taneous sex with a Mr X. Enter Joe Grinsdale who performs in some of the naughtiest night clubs north of the border. Twenty-five-year-old Joe, an accomplished acrobat, admits he's the guy in the gang but stresses that it's no big thing entertaining four ladies. Like performing on the highwire it's all a matter of getting up, keeping cool and exercising perfect timing. But isn't four at once a bit over the top, so to speak? How does he do it? Joe isn't saying. So if you ladies out there want to know the secret, you'll just heave to join his long queue. Joe calls it his `kebabs' routine, but we call it just plain greedy. What do you think, lads? Call us on . . . .

(Frank McDonald) Henry `Jinx' Jackson, the so-called Disaster in Plaster who has terrified circus crowds for years, last night owned up.

Mr Jackson was famous for breaking bones in rehearsal, but insisting the show go on. In 1972, he performed trapeze acts above Aysgarth Falls, despite having legs in splints.

Now he has revealed that his fractures were publicity stunts. For years he has perfected mid-air somersaults wearing a sling — on an unharmed arm.

`I thought the possibility of failure Would attract people,' admitted Mr Jackson. Now he faces charges for false pretences.

'Why are they complaining?' he asked. 'A mid-air backflip's no cinch when your legs are set solid.'

The fraud came to light when Mr Jackson, now 74, slipped from a pavement, breaking two ribs and a toe. X-rays revealed he'd never broken bones before. The radiographer was a former fan.

'I'll be back!' laughed Mr Jackson, gaily