2020 Bingo: Cher’s Elephant, Hitler’s Reptile and the Chinese Duck Army

Cat James

What a rollercoaster ride last year was. Or might have been, if we were actually allowed to visit a funfair. Instead, like you, I spent most of 2020 Staying at Home, Staying Alert and Staying Safe – all, in my case, by staying in Ryde.

With no possibility of visiting much of the actual world, I viewed it with increasing incredulity through the square window of my smartphone, discovering the rolling bonkersness that was 2020 bingo. Ignoring the unscheduled global pandemic, these true news events made the year even more surreal. Who had these stories on their bingo cards, ending with a full house?

I’m always disappointed that Southsea’s hoverbus has conventional wheels, but the future inched closer with January’s story of a dentist convicted for pulling teeth while on a hoverboard.

In February we learned that China could deploy a 100,000-strong duck army to neighbouring Pakistan to help tackle swarms of crop-eating locusts. Hang on! China has an army of ducks??

No, this is not a story from Newport’s Monkey Haven. Monkey gang ‘wars’ occurred in Thailand in March as street macaques argued over food; the shortages of snacks due to a lack of tourists.

May’s story of the death of Hitler’s alligator dying in Moscow Zoo was debunked by the BBC. RIP Saturn nonetheless.

In June, Barcelona pot plants enjoyed a concert by a string quartet. The performance was streamed live by Barcelona’s Liceu opera house, so plants at home could hear.

The height of the summer heatwave is often heralded by what, as a kid, I knew as ‘Flying Ant Day’. July 2020 was no exception; except this particular formation (if you will pardon the pun) of winged insects was so huge that it could be seen from space.

Chocolate snow fell in Switzerland in August after the ventilation system at a chocolate factory malfunctioned. And if that wasn’t unexpected enough, in Berlin a wild boar stole a nudist’s laptop.

Did anyone predict September’s earthquake hitting Leighton Buzzard? Yes? But did you forecast the second one that happened the same day?

In October I read about the escaped cloned female mutant crayfish taking over a Belgian cemetery; an “unkillable” swarm of crustacean copies.

Pop waxwork Cher hit the headlines in November when she travelled to Pakistan to save the ‘world’s loneliest elephant‘.

The Isle of Wight made the international press several times in 2020. In December a copy of the Utah monolith, itself an homage to an artifact of non-human origin which featured in Arthur C Clarle’s sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, appeared mysteriously on the beach at Compton.

Surely nobody had the return of Adolf Hitler on their bingo card? Yet a Namibian politician named after the Nazi dictator won a sweeping victory in local elections at the end of the year.

So what does 2021 have in store? I’ve already crossed off the story of the manatee discovered in a Florida river with ‘Trump’ scrawled on its back. My 2021 bingo card is primed.

This article first appeared in print in the Isle of Wight County Press on 22 January 2021 and also online.

Cat James

Graphic designer, creative director of Pinkeye Graphics, Isle of Wight County Press columnist, Cat out of Matt and Cat

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