News Round Up

by Patrick O'Connor

FANCY that...children at a school in Chelmsford, Essex improved their reading levels after teachers got them to read to a dog!

The Daily Star reports that staff brought 10 month old Cockapoo Flossie into the classroom because they believed children prefer to read to pets than adults.

Sue Frost, deputy head at Hyland School, said: “They love to read to her and we are seeing that this is allowing them to read more fluently.”

And the school says that Flossie is also helping the youngsters with road safety on walks, and foreign languages as they teach her commands in French and Spanish.

It seems that more of us Brits have chosen to live on our own, claims new research outlined in the Daily Mail.

The Office for National Statistics has published an interactive map showing the areas where single men and women live and the number of singletons has risen by three million in a decade.

Islington, London tops the league table where almost two in three men and 57 per cent of women are single.

Pigeons to the rescue! Businessman Ned Corbett-Winder, from Acton, West London, got so fed up with the cost of the Royal Mail that he has decided to use carrier pigeons for his mail order service, says the Daily Star.

He told the paper: “Businesses like mine rely on Royal Mail and we're at the mercy of these price hikes. The latest price increase will cost my business around £2,500 over the course of a year which for a small business is a huge amount of money.”

He went on: “People always joke that if their parcel is late it would have been quicker sending it by carrier pigeon. Well I'm testing the theory out.”

Do you know what an avocado looks like? I'm sure you do. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for some of our children.

Research commissioned by Alton Towers  revealed that whilst 80 per cent of six to 10 year olds questioned could instantly recognise Simon Cowell, from the X Factor TV talent show, only 62 per cent were able to name the avocado when shown a picture of the vegetable.

Just for a bit of fun, someone at The Independent decided to come up with a list of funny shop names.

Those that caught my eye included Wok This Way (Chinese takeaway in Newcastle); Curl Up and Dye (hairdresser in Kingston), the self-explanatory Napoleon Boiler Parts in Alton, Hampshire and Sellfridges (fridge shop in Stoke Newington, North London).

They say cats have nine lives and 10 year old Crockett may well have used up one of them.

The BBC tells us that the grey tabby had been trapped in a sofa which was donated to a charity shop but was found after five days by the couple who bought it,

The piece of furniture was amongst items given to St Luke's Hospice charity shop in Grays, Essex, by Pauline and Bill Lowe from Corringham. They included two sofas and one had to be taken apart to get it through the door. It is believed that the cat sneaked inside it outside the Lowe's house before the base was replaced. It was taken to the shop where it was later sold and delivered to new owners.

Shop manager Jenny Munro said: “They heard a soft miaow sound and, on further investigation of the sofa, saw two claws poking out of the material which moved away when touched.

“In order to release the cat they had to rip the material under the sofa as Crockett had lodged himself well into the back.”

April 1 was April Fool's Day which often prompts our newspapers to run 'spoof' stories.

The Daily Mirror led the way with a cracker – dictator Kim Jong-un has banned top boy band One Direction from entering North Korea - unless they get their hair cut.

And, says the Mirror, he demanded that the boy band opted for the short-back-and-sides haircut he models if they wanted to visit the country.

They quote a 'source' in the capital Pyongyang as saying: “There is no way One Direction will be allowed to play here without a trip to the barbers.”

And the Guardian tried to fool us all by reporting that if Scotland gained independence they would immediately switch from driving on the left of the road to the right.

Reference lists:

The Guardian (

The Independent (

Daily Mail (

Daily Mirror (

Daily Star (www.daily