Fate throws a few opportune curve balls if you’re paying attention and willing to catch and run.

I was day dreaming on the bus, missed my stop and got off opposite Growing Life, a curiosity shop dedicated to hydroponics, indoor gardening, grow tents and seller of all manner of strange nutrients and additives.

I was lured in by the wormeries, an obviously blokey bait in retrospect. Why would you want a normal garden composter when you can have a binful of 2,000 ravenous wrigglers chomping their way through your leftovers?

You can be all pious and self righteous for doing your bit for the environment, are harnessing the power of the worm and have a show stopper of a pub conversation all rolled into one act of do-gooder eco weirdness.

The wriggly ones process around 500g of vegetable matter a week leaving a fine compost to spread on your garden or throw over the neighbour’s cat. I was also educated in the ways of worm tea,  a super nutrient made from mixing worm castings which are mixed with water and then oxygenated.

Of course, the real stars of the show are the worms whose names sound like the cast from an X-Men film: European Nightcrawler, Red Wriggler and the White Worm

 

 

Engine failure, adverse weather conditions, terrorists and running out of fuel are just a few of the calamities that can befall an airline pilot on a bad day.

No-one expected the threat to come from an escaped crocodile but that’s what happened in Africa when one of the scaly ones was smuggled on board.

Passengers rushed into the cockpit in the ensuing panic causing the plane to be thrown off balance and crash.

The crocodile survived only to be killed with a machete on the ground. Bummer.

 

The greatest threat facing anyone dipping their toes into a British river is getting snaggled on an old sanitary pad or discarded shopping trolley.

Angler Jeremy Wade hooked something more formidable during a fishing trip along a remote stretch of the Congo River, Africa, when he reeled in a five-foot long Goliath tigerfish.

The river, which winds through several countries, was recently subject to an extensive trawl by biologists who found a variety of different species.

What we’re seeing here is kind of evolution on steroids,” said team leader Melanie Stiassny, a fish biologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

 

The British Empire faced many adversaries during its reign but none as curious as a pair of man-eating lions that threatened its expansion into Africa.

The lions claimed more than 130 lives during a nine-month reign of terror that stopped construction of a rail road that would eventually stretch from Mombassa on the eastern coast to Lake Victoria in Uganda.

The British saw the Kenya-Uganda Railroad as an important trading route as well as an antidote to the slave trade where human portage of goods was still commonplace.

It was the latest in a series of calamities to beset the ill fated ‘lunatic line’, a 1000km railroad that critics derided as going from ‘nowhere to absolutely nowhere.’

Questions were raised in Parliament as news of the latest setback emerged.

Politicians demanded action from the safety of their padded benches and the dangerous task of stopping the man-eaters fell on the shoulders of an army engineer called John Henry Patterson.

Labourers had began disappearing soon after Patterson’s arrival in 1898 to oversee the construction of a bridge over the River Tsavo in Kenya.

Victims were snatched within earshot of colleagues and dragged from communal tents while they slept. Half eaten remains were soon discovered in the surrounding bush along with the tracks of two large male cats.

The lions, increasingly emboldened by their success, even began crawling through thorn barricades used to protect the campsites at night.

Rumour spread that the cats were evils spirits and Patterson received angry deputations demanding action. Labourers refused to leave camp and work on the bridge faltered.

However, the lions continued to confound Patterson’s best efforts, despite his experience of hunting tigers during military service in India.

He set various traps and spent numerous all-night vigils perched in trees in an effort to ambush the predators

Finally, he tracked and shot the first lion nine months after the first killing was reported.

He hit it in the hindquarters but it vanished into the surrounding brush.

Patterson began tracking his adversary only to realise that the hunter had become the hunted and the lion had begun circling him. It disappeared again and a relived Patterson retreated to camp.

He later recalled in his memoirs, The Lions of Tsavo, that it was one of the longest days of his life. It was not until dawn the next day that he found the lion’s now lifeless body.

It measured more than nine feet in length and eight men were needed to carry the body back to a camp of cheering workers.

The second lion was killed three weeks later but only after Patterson shot it five times.

He later claimed it died gnawing on a fallen tree branch in its frustration to reach its tormenter.

There were various suggestions why the lions had turned man-eaters.

These included the practice of cremation among the largely Indian workforce where the cats could have gained a taste for human flesh by feeding on unburnt remains, discarded bodies left by passing slave traders and an outbreak of rinderpest that killed the big cats natural food source.

Patterson had the lions skinned and they remained trophy rugs in his home until he sold them to the Museum of Chicago where they remain a popular exhibit.

There have been several films capturing Patterson’s exploits including The Wind and the Darkness starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer who played Patterson.

DNA testing of the lions’ remains has since revealed the number of victims was nearer 30.

John Patterson died in America in 1947.

 

Gadzooks. I can’t believe they have re-made Piranha which was possibly the worst ever premise for a horror film bar killer rabbit movie Night of the Lepus.

The original film, which the director loftily tells us was a parody of Jaws, focused on the aftermath of military project to infest the rivers of ‘Nam with genetically modified piranha.

Cue skinny dipping teenagers being devoured ten to the dozen, gratuitous riverbank sex and the waterways of America running red with theatrical blood.

The sequel featured flying piranha – now THAT is more like it – so the body count could be cranked up and land lubbers sunning themselves on the river bank could be slaughtered by the ensuing airborne assault.

Hollywood’s greedy maxim that a remake is guaranteed a quick financial return is threatening to back-end itself into current releases they are so desperate to keep the money flowing.

Expect a musical remake of Harry Potter within the year.

 

 

I had a brief flirtation with Guy N. Smith under the bed covers as an impressionable schoolboy.

The horror-miester has written more than 60 novels including Dead Meat, The Sucking Pit, Satan’s Snowdrop and the classic Night of the Crabs.

His crab opus spawned six sequels about the giant mutated crustaceans and their habit of tearing apart unsuspecting couples copulating on Britain’s beaches.

Perfect fair for the over-active imagination until you realise that truth is often stranger than fiction.

Europe is currently facing oceanic armaggedeon in the shape of a underwater invasion of giant King Crabs.

The crustaceans have been steadily advancing from the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea around the coastline of Norway. And boy, are they hungry.

Soviet scientists originally introduced the species to increase the yield of local fisheries but millions of the giant crabs have been advancing west since the 1970s in search of a European meal ticket.

Experts are concerned that these vorocious omnivores – who have few natural predators except man – are stripping the sea-bed of life as they progress.

Our last best hope is to open more sushi bars and get Jamie Oliver to start promoting his pukker range of crab sticks.

It seems governments just love tinkering around with low-grade biological warfare as the US found out with the unwitting introduction of predatory snakeheads into its southern waterways.

Likewise, the equally hungry Cane Toad imported from Hawaii to Australia to eat cane beetles that were ruining sugar cane crops.

The authorites overlooked two small but important points.

The beetles forage in daylight hours before retiring for a well earned snooze, while the toads are night feeders. The beetle also rarely comes down from the top of the cane which are well out-of-reach of the warty ones.

The result? Cane Toad City. They’ll be driving cars and asking for the minimum wage next.

 

There’s some strange folk out there as you’ll see in the attached u-tube clip of some aquarium owner/descendant of Dr Mengele feeding a live mouse to an Arowana.

God help, the Iraqis.

 

I question the wisdom of letting cephalopods dictate human thinking.

Novelist John Wyndham gave warning of Mother Nature’s soft skinned psychos but we still worship the likes of Paul the Octopus (see left) who had bookies in tears with his sure footed prediction of the World Cup’s winning teams.

Paul, also known as the soothsayer and psychic octopus, needs to be watched closely. It’s only a short eight legged step before he gets his slippery tentacles into other pies.

A sachet of weed killer in his tank should do the trick.

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