Der Struwwelpeter

, a book of cautionary tales written by a German psychiatrist in 1845, is full of tales of children misbehaving - and the awful, bizarre fates they suffered for doing so. Augustus doesn't eat his soup, and so he wastes away and dies. Harriet plays with matches and sets herself on fire. But none is more terrifying than the tale of Conrad, also known as Suck-a-Thumb:

"One day, Mamma said: Conrad dear, I must go out and leave you here. But mind now, Conrad, what I say, Don't suck your thumb while I'm away. The great tall tailor always comes To little boys that suck their thumbs. And ere they dream what he's about, He takes his great sharp scissors out And cuts their thumbs clean off, and then, You know, they never grow again." When Conrad sucks his thumb again, he is visited by the tailor, who chases the boy with a giant pair of scissors and cuts off his thumbs."

Have a drink on me

"I saw your piece on Vincent Price, who was a very funny man," writes Tony. "It reminded me of a bloke named Tommy Cooper, who used to wear a fez and appeared on British TV doing magic tricks and cracking jokes. He was famous among London cabbies for reaching over and paying them for his trip, and then slipping something into the cabbie's breast pocket saying 'have a drink on me'. And instead of finding a pound note or a fiver, it would be a tea bag. Once, after appearing at a Royal Command performance he was in the line-up of the cast to meet the Queen backstage. When she shook hands with Cooper he asked her: 'Do you like football, ma'am?' She replied 'no, not particularly' and he said: 'Good, can I have your Cup Final tickets then?'

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Plane hilarious

"On my recent Emirates flight I had to look at this on the ceiling above me for 17hours!" writes Sue Lafleur.

Lengthy nickname

Your final correspondent in Thursday's column might be mistaken, writes Chris Breen. "I also worked with a Long No. It was about 40 years ago and he was a nice bloke, but his more popular nickname was Lengthy Refusal, or just 'Lengthy'."

Quick links

1. Toilets with threatening auras.

2.Why did the chicken cross the footpath? In Mooroolbark Victoria, Australia workers wrangle a wayward chicken who rudely walked across the wet cement they were putting down.

3. When you accidentally drop a meatball.

Video pick

Moments of lost self-control…


Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz