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11 October 2023

This England: Seeds of doubt

This column – which, though named after a line in Shakespeare’s “Richard II”, refers to the whole of Britain – has run in the NS since 1934.

By New Statesman

The organisers of the World Conker Championships will have to harden their seeds this year as heatwaves and wet weather have left chestnuts “soft and mushy”.  Baking conkers has previously been understood as cheating, but severe weather events across the UK have left chestnuts too “squidgy”.

The 2023 World Conker Championships are set to be held in Northamptonshire, with more than 200 people participating.

David Glew, 77, said: “Baking conkers in the oven just wouldn’t be right. It’s nuts. The sport is in crisis.” 
The Independent
(Steve Morley)

Taking flight

Parrot Albert Sebastian picked a lock on his cage to escape and flew 32 miles from home. The bird was found four days later in Beith, Ayrshire.

The parrot’s owner, Lorrett McCutcheon, 53, said: “His cage is like Fort Knox now.”
Amanda Welles
(The Times)

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No need to play chicken

Councillors in East Lothian have unanimously given the green light for a chicken underpass to be built in Gifford. East Lothian Eggs Ltd applied to construct a tunnel under the B6386 to allow its chickens extra space.

The tunnel will be 18m long, 2.5m wide and 1.5m deep, linking the roaming areas to the north and south via earth ramps. The road will be reinstated following the work.

The farm business was last year given permission for a new shed, which would enable it to double its flock from 32,000 chickens to 64,000. But it now says it needs more space in order to meet free-range standards.
BBC Scotland
(Kate McIntosh)

[See also: This England: The great escape]

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This article appears in the 11 Oct 2023 issue of the New Statesman, War Without Limits