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25th February 2002 - Page 2

Heroic failures


The least successful 
weather report
After severe flooding in Jeddah in January 1979, the Arab News gave the following bulletin: 'We regret we are unable to give you the weather. We rely on weather reports from the airport, which is closed because of the weather. Whether we are able to give you the weather tomorrow depends on the weather.'

The least successful 

The royal society for the prevention of accidents held an exhibition at Harrogate in 1968. The entire display fell down.

The least successful 
oil drillers

Erecting the very latest equipment, Texaco workers sat about drilling for oil at Lake Peigneur in Lousiana during November 1980.
After only a few hours drilling they sat back, expecting oil to shoot up. Instead, however, they watched a whirlpool form, sucking down not only the entire 1,300 acre lake, but also five houses, nine barges, eight tug boats, two oil rigs, a mobile home, most of a botanical garden, and 10 percent of nearby Jefferson Island, leaving a half-mile-wide crater. No one told them there was an abandoned salt mine underneath.
A local fisherman said he thought the world was coming to an end.

The fastest failure of 
a driving test

Until recently the world record was held by Mrs. Helen Ireland of Auburn, California, who failed her driving test in the first second, cleverly mistaking the accelerator for the clutch and shooting straight through the wall of the Driving Test Centre. 
This seemed unbeatable until 1981 when a Lanarkshire motor mechanic called Thomson failed the test before the 

examiner had even got into the car. Arriving at the test centre he tooted the horn to summon the examiner, who strode out to the vehicle, said it was illegal to sound your horn while stationary ,announced that Thomson had failed and strode back in again. Genius of this kind cannot be taught. It is a natural gift.

The worst boxer
Ralph Walton was knocked out in ten and a half seconds in a bout at Lewinston, Maine, USA, on 29 September 1946. It happened when Al Couture struck him as he was still adjusting his gum shield in his corner. The ten and a half seconds includes ten while he was counted out.

The worst juror
It happened at a rape trial in Snaresbrook (U.K.) county court on an unusually warm and sultry day. One of the jurors fell asleep just as the victim was being questioned by the prosecuting counsel.
"Would you," he asked, "tell the court precisely what the defendant said to you before the attack?"
"No, she would not." she said. 
"It was far too crude and shocking."
"Would you be prepared to write it down?" And she did, with every sign of distaste, and the paper was passed to the judge, learned counsel, the clerk of the court, and the jury. In the second row, our hero slumbered on until he was suddenly woken by a sharp nudge from the smiling brunette next to him. 
She passed the note to him. He read the message thereon, gazed in wonder at his neighbour, read it again, winked at the woman, and slipped the note in his pocket.
When the judge demanded the note back, the juror refused. It was, he said, a private matter.

Taken from the Puffin Book of Heroic Failures

Ocean’s 11

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, produced by George Clooney and Jerry Weintraub.

The movie stars George Clooney, who can be powerful yet impassive better than almost anybody. He stars as Danny Ocean, fresh out of prison and eager for a new job. He's a smooth operator who has figured in a dozen investigations where he was never charged. He contacts his old sidekick Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) with a scheme to steal millions from not one but three Las Vegas casinos. Amazingly, the movie specifies and shoots in real casinos (the Mirage, the MGM Grand and the Bellagio) and incorporates the destruction of the Desert Inn. Working on the job, Rusty sees the casino owner (Andy Garcia) with a woman he recognizes: Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts), Danny's ex-wife. Ocean wants to steal from his ex-wife's current lover and get her back again in one fell swoop. They assemble a team, including Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Casey Affleck. 
All in all a star studded cast gives the movie an edge over the others. The script has been written in a true hollywood style:
“I thought I’d paid my debt to society.”
“Funny, I didn’t get a cheque.”
But classy lines like these only add to the fun. 
Like the original, Ocean's Eleven is a great flick. But unlike the 1960 version, it's no throwaway: with Steven Soderbergh directing, the film is stylish and smart, even if it lacks a little soul.

Bharrat Dabas
Class XI-B

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