Sunday, April 13, 2008

Marathon runner dresses as “runner”

Victor Billingsworth, an enthusiastic club runner from Hemel Hempstead today completed the London Marathon in an elaborate costume of running singlet, shorts and trainers, much to the amazement of the millions of spectators that lined the route.

"I couldn’t believe what I was seeing," said Jane from Colchester. "The children said that there was a funny man on the course and when I looked I was astonished not to see him in a dress, a Storm Trooper outfit or in a Womble suit."

Mr Billingsworth said that he had wanted to stand out from the thousands of charity runners taking part and wanted to be sure to be seen by friends and family who had come to support him.

"It is probably the most difficult part of your pre-race preparation," said Victor after he completed the course in a personal best 3 hours and forty-four minutes. "You spend weeks trying on different outfits to get the right look. In the end I went for a red running vest. My friends thought I was mad."

Mr Billingsworth’s wife, Simone, said that she thought he was insane to attempt to run over twenty-six miles in the outfit of a runner.

"I was worried he might get cold, what with not having the fur of a large teddy-bear costume or the sun-catching, dark garb of a Batman outfit," she said. "All the attention his outfit has been getting is embarrassing."

Not only did Mr Billingsworth not even doff his cap t tradition by the simple act of cross-dressing, he completely failed to take along even the most basic of marathon running equipment.

"I did get a few comments from people who wanted to know where my bucket to put cash in was, or why I wasn’t pretending to ride a large, blue ostrich," said Billingsworth. "But that just motivated me further to show all the doubters and do my talking through my times through each checkpoint."

Mr Billingsworth, a children’s entertainer and professional clown, said that his first round of sponsorship for the marathon dressed as ‘an average runner’ had so far raised over £3m.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Price of photocopier paper balloons during Zimbabwean election counting

The crisis hit economy of Zimbabwe was further rocked today with the news that sheets of A4 photocopier paper were now trading at over Zim$600,000 each. Even in a country used to rampant inflation and shortages of even the most basic of foodstuffs the news has shocked people at all levels of society.

“I had never really believed my country was in such a mess until I had an emergency need to copy some documents,” said office worker Robert Mugabe from Harare. “I have hundreds of thousands of ballot papers to photocopy in a hurry.”

As is so often the case with such economic troubles it is those that can afford it least that are hit the hardest.

“I have personally had to beat several civil servants until they gave over their stocks of paper,” said Mr Mugabe. “If the paper prices stay at this level it will mean complete disaster for the UN food-aid budget, if I can get my hands on it.”

There are concerns that should the crisis in the cost of paper continue over the next few days it might lead to outbreaks of looting.

“I am seriously considering deploying troops on the streets, “ explained Mr Mugabe. “I may have to send them in to raid my local branch of Rymans.”

The economic impact of the news may have far reaching consequences for other parts of the Zimbabwean economy and for the already fragile nature of the country’s money supply.

“It is important that the will of the Zimbabwean people is accurately reflected in this election. Such as by casting a retrospective ballot in my favour on behalf of millions of dead people,” said Mugabe. “To help with officials’ concerns and to be most efficient with such a limited resource, I have asked the Zimbabwean mint to copy the ballot papers straight onto million dollar banknotes.”