1. ‘Squirrels on crack’
South London: a sprawling ghetto where even the wildlife are mad-eyed junkies. That was the image conjured by this unlikely 2005 South London Press story. The evidence was all there: the furtive behaviour, the little stashes everywhere. Apparently there are no grey squirrels; the red ones just go that colour after years on the rock.
2. ‘Nude police dancing plan is rejected’
Was there really a motion to create an ace unit of naked twerking coppers? This 2007 Islington Gazette poster was supposed to refer to a ‘pole-dancing’ plan, but a rogue ‘C’ caused many to misread the line as ‘Nude police dancing plan rejected’. Questions were asked off the back of the typo, namely: why does anyone have a problem with nude police dancing?
3. ‘Police storm pub in Morris dancer row’
‘Ouch! Watch where you’re shaking that stick!’ We all know how Morris dancing can get out of hand, and so seemed the case when the Croydon Advertiser ran this headline in 2012. The reality was more bizarre: police asked a ‘dark’ Morris troupe to desist after a resident complained that their routine outside a pub was ‘offensive’. With a hey nonny no!
4. ‘Overweight police won’t be hypnotised’
This 2012 Hampstead & Highgate Express effort was about a proposed weight-loss scheme that didn’t go ahead. Presumably the fleet-footed criminals of NW3 are enjoying their freedom and the area’s Dunkin’ Donuts are still doing a roaring trade.
5. ‘Rotten tree falls in garden’
Like 9/11, everyone remembers where they were when the rotten tree fell over. It sent shockwaves around the world. Parliament was recalled, President Obama offered condolences to the families of the crushed shrubbery, and the Hornsey, Crouch End & Muswell Hill Journal led an investigation. It’s what the phrase ‘stop the presses’ was coined for.
6. ‘Dog poo squad results slammed’
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it… it’s time to call in the Dog Poo Squad. Quite what this unit of scatological soldiers do, we’re not sure. But whatever it is, this 2013 Islington Gazette headline suggests they aren’t doing it very well. Come on, Dog Poo Squad, get your shit together!
7. ‘Toilet curse strikes again’
What’s going on in Croydon? First rioting Morris dancers, and now cursed toilets. Is there black magic afoot? No. This Croydon Advertiser story is actually utterly underwhelming – something to do with town centre lavs closing. So don’t worry if you’re caught short in Croydon and have to use public facilities – you won’t leave with a hex in your kecks.
8. ‘Cliff songs scare off Dulwich hoodies’
Back in the pre-recession days of 2007, when all Dulwich had to worry about was behooded juveniles, the South London Press reported how one fairground had an inspired tactic for deterring loitering delinquents: blasting Cliff Richard songs from the dodgems. The ugly face of London youth proved no match for the perenially unlined mug of the Peter Pan of Pop.
8. ‘Racist wig storm at 99p store’
Take cover, it’s raining racist wigs! Well, not quite. In local news terminology, a ‘storm’ is a minor upset involving fewer than ten people. In this case, a woman took offence at a Croydon shop selling a ‘sinister black child’s wig’ at Halloween. How this didn’t escalate into rioting to rival LA in 1992 we have next to no idea.
10. ‘World’s oldest cat is same age as Dizzee Rascal’
Or, Bromley News Shopper could have noted, the same age as Wayne Rooney. Or Keira Knightley, or ‘Back to the Future’. Or it could have just said that Cola the cat from Orpington is 28. But where’s the fun in that?
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