Sunday, 16 June 2013

Outstanding mistakes of all time



After a string of newsworthy errors, a stumble through the annals of time to choose a few famous one.

The German bank clerk who fell asleep in mid transfer of 62.40 euros while his finger was on the "2" key and ended up transferring 222,222,222.222 euros instead. Or the alleged mix-up at a cemetery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which saw a couple being buried apart instead of under a headstone reading "Together for Ever". Could happen to anyone. Which couldn't be said for Flt Lt Ben Plank, of the Red Arrows display team, who pushed the wrong button over Shropshire and sent out blue smoke behind him, rather than red, thus rather ruining the usual meticulously colour-coded show of red, white and blue.


Flt Lt Plank's is my favourite of those, combining as it does maximum impact, least harm and the simplest of errors. Others over time have, of course, had more consequence: one thinks of Eve and that apple; the Trojans and that Greek gift; the smouldering baker's oven in Pudding Lane; the Light Brigade and the wrong valley; Neville Chamberlain and that piece of paper; the Decca Records executive who turned down The Beatles because "guitar groups are on the way out"; and the less well-known, such as the Canadian seeking to escape the danger of nuclear war who emigrated to the Falklands shortly before the Argentine invasion. Outstanding Mistakes of All Time are as follows:-


Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden (1594-1632), disdained the steel armour offered by his aides at the Battle of L├╝tzen, saying: "The Lord God is my Armour!" Yes, the Battle of Lutzen was indeed in 1632.


Dennis Laroux, a US tattooist, angered three members of an all-girl chapter of Hell's Angels when he tattooed Stan's Slaves on their breasts rather than Satan's Slaves.


Sophia Hadi drove all the way from Leeds to Washington, Tyne and Wear, after a friend there reported hearing a rare song thrush, only to find it was, in fact, the noise made by a fork lift truck reversing at the local Asda.


Peter Crawford's self-defence in a New York court suffered slightly after he asked the key witness: "Did you get a good look at my face when I snatched your bag?"


Maj Gen John Sedgwick (1813-1864) was unimpressed by Confederate sniper fire at the Battle of Spotsylvania. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"


Rommell decided that he could go home to celebrate his wife's birthday because Normandy was so quiet in June 1944.


The Liverpool Echo, in a rare error, once described Violet, the mother of the Kray twins, as "Mrs Violent Kray".


This was Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the General Post Office, in 1876: "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."


The popularity of spinach as a health food, which resulted in Popeye the Sailor Man and generations of children staring miserably at a plate bearing the canned product, resulted from a misplaced decimal point in calculations of the amount of iron in it.


In Sonning Common, near Reading, in 2003, an unidentified motorist, you know who you are, collided with and knocked down the sign reading, "Sonning Common welcomes careful drivers".


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