Houston, we have a problem: Arniston

Which of us, at one time or another, has not come up with a fantastic marketing idea that is later crushed by the officials at NASA? That's exactly the situation our friends at Arniston Bay found themselves in recently. The concept was a buoy, shaped like an outsize bottle of the famous wine brand, that was to be launched into the Indian Ocean and take its chances in the seven seas. Being fitted with a GPS device, the progress of the buoy would be monitored on the internet and the excitement would mount as it bobbed in the ocean currents headed for who knows where.

But the party poopers at Cape Canaveral deemed this a risk to world security and said "no".

One other hitch, that we probably should mention, is that the buoy didn't actually float.

Batemans' label sounds fishy

The back label on bottles of Batemans Autumn Fall Multigrain Beer assures drinkers that "as it contains no fish-based finings, it is vegan-friendly" and also points out that it is "ideal as an accompaniment to traditional pies and spicy Lincolnshire sausages". New Scientist reader John Berry writes to the magazine: "Which part of the word vegan do they not understand?"

Look out! It's Magneto can

Not much has happened in the world of can making since the arrival of the widget. But perhaps we're expecting too much of the packaging industry. Maybe the best ideas could be provided by consumers?

"Make the cans magnetic so you can stick however many you want together and in basically any shape," writes an enthusiastic contributor to halfbakery.com, a useful online forum for frustrated thinkers.

"They'll take up less room than a typical six-pack because all the cans will be closer together, which also enables them to stay colder longer. You can configure any quantity of them into any shape you want in order to better stow them or transport them."

One cruel respondent chips in: "It would make it way easier for homeless people to collect them too. They could even build multi-storey houses from them."

Slowhand unplugs Mission's label

It's a tradition that musicians who give performances at Mission Estate Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, have a bottle of wine named after them. Hence you can uncork Julio Iglesias, The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Ro gers, Shirley Bassey, The Doobie Brothers, The Hollies, Lulu, Engelbert Humperdinck, Cliff Richard, John Farnham, the B52s, and Rod Stewart.

But not Eric Clapton. As a recovering alcoholic ol' Slowhand thought the gesture would be "inappropriate". Whereas performing a gig in a winery was presumably OK.

Northern Buddies raise cash

The first Northern Buddies of the Benevolent fundraising event was Burns' Night Supper, co-ordinated by Rumpus Communications. Held at the Masonic Hall in Manchester, the event was a traditional Burns' Night celebration, with Gareth Clements of Rumpus addressing the haggis, accompanied by a piper and amateur poetry. The event raised more than £650 for the charity, and marks a great start to support from the north.

Our picture shows, left to right: Bob Ratcliffe (Stevens Garnier), Nick Dymoke-Marr (Orbital), Paul Evans (Rumpus), and Hemant Kotecha (Myliko).

Crash blues at Rhythm & Booze

Pensioners make unlikely ram-raiders, but one appears to have done a reasonable job on the Rhythm & Booze store in Armthorpe near Doncaster.

A Renault kangaroo -hopped off the road as its driver attempted to park the car, smashing through the front window of the shop and narrowly avoiding some people waiting at the bus stop.

Luckily nobody was inside the shop , which was left ankle-deep in wine and broken glass.

Store manager Julie Evans said: "It's not every day you get a car coming through the window. It was quite literally a wine lake and I think several hundred bottles were smashed. We will also need new windows and frames putting in."

Who forgot the signwriter?

Canny old Thresher. Our spies tell us that a former Unwins branch in Brighton has now been converted to The Local - which seems a very smart move given that it allows the shop to retain its big yellow chillers. Ignore the green writing that spells out "Unwins" and they could almost have been purpose-built. Clever!

Related articles: