Monday, September 14, 2009

14 September 2009: Classifieds

You want proof that life is stranger than fiction? Look at the classified ads.

The 'classified ads' section of the local paper (usually the Evening Herald) was always a good laugh. There'd be a number of incredibly mundane items for sale ("Large bomber jacket, blue, £35") interspersed by the occasional item of wonder ("Talking dog, it really talks. Only says 'woof', hence £3.50") and those you knew would never happen ("Will swap: unsuccessful lottery ticket from last week for Spice Girls Reunion concert in back garden. Not on the 14th though.").

Even the radio would get involved - BBC Radio Devon's mid-morning show used to feature Ian Brass reading out classified ads and you could phone in and be put in touch with the relevant elderly lady looking to sell her Breville Soup Warmer.

Then came the Framley Examiner: fiction overcame fact. Pages of wonderful fake classifieds were created over the years (before the boys presumably moved on to higher things), ranging from the beautifully honest ("Inflatable breadboard. Used once. Very disappointing. £2.") to the honestly bizarre ("Caravan Cosy. Six year of knitting. No longer required. Caravan now cosy.") and the occasional personal ad ("Made of snow? I am made of snow.") and job ("Molford business requires full-time person. Must be a person all the time. Must not sometimes be an octopus or a pot-plant or a cloud").

But now it seems that Craigslist, the classified page for the twenty-first century, has once again determined that truth is stranger than fiction. The Telegraph today (presumably bouyed by Last Night at the Proms or something) did a story about the weirdest stuff yet advertised on Craigslist: examples include a few personals -

14) My teeth
"I left my Dentures in your Silverado last night. I gave you my number but did not get yours. Please call me asap. I need my teeth. We met in the parking lot of Margarita Jones. Get back to me asap please. Thank you."

and even a cat that frankly could have come from Framley:

17) Ferocious attack kitten
"This destructive kitty has been trained as a proud warrior and will fiercely defend your house, even against you. Has a very soft and furry belly, like a teddy bear - however he will bite your face if you try to touch it. For the love of God, someone please take this thing out of my house."

- and that last line is why it's so good: you get a look, however briefly, into the desperate situation the poor person has got themselves into and how you can help out.

So there it is, proof that life is stranger than fiction. And if you don't believe me, read about Pickles, the dog who found the World Cup after it was stolen in 1966. According to Wikipedia, it seems Pickles died the following year, choking on his own lead while chasing a cat. A dog never destined to live out a dull existence, and an example to us all.

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