Manchester salt spreaders

Manchester city councillor Angeliki Stogia with two of the new trucks. PICTURE: Manchester City Council.

Gritter Thunberg. Snowbi-Gone Kenobi. Snowel Gallagher. Citizens in the UK city of Manchester have been having fun creating new, pun-filled, names for a fleet of eight new salt-spreading trucks. The city council called for name suggestions on Twitter and received more than 2,000 entries before choosing 24 to put to a vote. Alongside the afore-mentioned takes on singer Noel Gallagher, climate activist Greta Thunberg and Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi, other winners include Basil Salty (Basil Fawlty, a character in the TV sitcom Fawlty Towers), Grit Astley (singer Rick Astley), Spreaddie Flintoff (former cricketer turned reality star Freddie Flintoff), Spreaddie Mercury (late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury) and Slushay Away (a play on a TV catchphrase "Sashay, away"). The names have been placed on the front of the new trucks. Salt-spreading trucks are used to help keep roads operating during icy weather.

A South African man is about to set a new Guinness World Record for living in a wine barrel atop a 25-metre-long pole. Vernon Kruger, who turned 60 last Monday, ascended the pole in the town of Dullstroom on 14th November and is expected to break the old record - 67 days, a record which he set back in 1997 - on Monday, 20th January. Not satisfied with merely breaking the former record, however, he reportedly intends staying there for another week after the deadline has passed. Wondering why? “South Africa needs feel-good stories,” he told the Lowvelder in November. “Many people ask me: ‘Why?’ This achievement will create a new cultural milestone for Dullstroom, and hopefully ignite excitement for the people of South Africa. I am also challenging my own existing record." He's still got some work to do if he wants to match the effort of Simon Stylites the Elder who, so the story goes, climbed a pillar in Syria in 423AD as an expression of his Christian faith. He is said to have remained there until his death more than 35 years later.

Red faces all round. People in the province of Ontario, Canada, awoke on Sunday to see an alert on their phones warning them of an "incident" at a nuclear plant near Toronto - only to be told later that it had been sent in error. The original message said there was no abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and that emergency staff were responding but didn't explain what the "incident" was which had apparently taken place at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. It was reportedly some 40 minutes later before officials tweeted that the message had been "sent in error" and that there was no danger. The province's government have launched an inquiry to find out why the message was mistakenly sent out during a training exercise.