Odds & Ends

Shanghai Star. 2005-01-20

Oldest mum

BUCHAREST - A 66-year-old Rumanian woman gave birth to a baby girl on January 16 after years of fertility treatment and was claimed by Rumanian media to be the world's oldest mother ever.

Adriana Iliescu, a university professor and author of children's books, had been pregnant with twin girls. One died in the womb and doctors decided to perform a caesarean section in the 33rd week of pregnancy to save the other.

"We wanted to wait until the 34th week of pregnancy, when the children's lungs would have reached full maturity, but we noticed on January 15 that the heart of one of the little girls had stopped beating," Doctor Bogdan Marinescu, chief of the Giulesti maternity hospital, said.

"We decided to proceed with the operation to save the second girl."

Marinescu said both the mother and the child, who weighs 1.4 kilograms (3.1 lb), were in stable condition but the little girl would have to spend up to six weeks in hospital to reach 2 kilograms in weight.

Iliescu, who will be 67 in May, became pregnant via invitro fertilization and doctors said this was her third attempt at carrying a pregnancy to term. The eggs and sperm used had come from "healthy young people."

Flirty facts

FRANKFURT - They may be good at raking in loads of money, but lonely heart bankers in Frankfurt are going back to school to learn how to land a lover.

The community college in Germany's financial and singles capital says its "Flirting, the art of seduction" course teaches people how to "express desire", send body signals and develop their own flirting style through role-playing.

Course instructor Florentina Ionescu said she wanted to bring a little southern European passion into the lives of northern bankers good with a spreadsheet, but bad with banter.

"People from southern Europe are more open and quicker to smile or pass a compliment," she said.

"But in the north, they are not exactly bursting with charm. I show them how they can ask questions and switch the conversation if the other person is nodding off."

The course, attended mainly by 20 to 30-year-olds, is one of the most popular offered by the college. So far at least four of Ionescu's students have found romance with classmates, a group that includes bankers and academics.

Strawberry fields

LONDON - Britain's Salvation Army is to close its Strawberry Field children's home in Liverpool, inspiration for The Beatles' hit "Strawberry Fields Forever."

The Christian charity said it was taking the step due to the changing demands of child welfare.

"It is now preferable for children to be cared for within a foster family or in a small group home, rather than within large residential institutions," it said in a statement.

Strawberry Field opened in 1936 on Beaconsfield Road in Liverpool, a short distance from John Lennon's childhood home.

Lennon was taken by the name and used it for the band's 1967 hit.

Strawberry Fields lives on as the name of a memorial garden in New York's Central Park, close to the spot where Lennon was shot dead in 1980.

Bad advice

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma highway users wishing to call the state about electronic payment passes were mistakenly directed to a sex hotline.

Oklahoma Transportation Authority spokeswoman Brigette Berglan said the state's turnpike authority had made an error in a letter sent to 41,000 people. One digit was wrong in the telephone number.

Instead, they found themselves calling a sex line where they could speak with "exciting people", such as lonely housewives, students and fantasy girls for US$2.99 a minute.

"We're not that exciting here at the authority. We prefer to think of ourselves as helpful," she said.

Those who received the incorrect notice were sent a postcard with the correct number.

Dress freedom

NICOSIA - Female lawyers in Cyprus have won a round in the battle to reform their legal profession by winning the right to wear trousers in court.

Until now the dress code for women was dark skirts and jackets with white blouses but new regulations for dark "classic cut" trousers were approved by the Supreme Court and introduced at the beginning of the year.

"It was a popular demand among female lawyers. Trousers are more practical," Melina Pyrgou, secretary of the Bar Association, said. "In Nicosia the courthouse is in five different buildings and you have to dash between them. Some can find it bit awkward to do that in skirts."

But lest some females take their newly found dress freedom too far, the Supreme Court cautions that the material and style of the trousers should remain within the realm of good taste.

Sex aid

BERLIN - A German brothel owner has been so moved by the plight of survivors from Asia's tsunami disaster that she is donating part of her takings from clients.

"It's not every day you can make a charitable gesture by going to a brothel," said Mercedes Mueller, who is giving five euros (US$6.60) of the 39-euro (US$51) entrance charge clients pay.

"It's so terrible what happened there and I wanted to do something," said Mueller, who owns the Happy FKK Club in the western city of Dortmund.

Mueller said clients, prostitutes and the public had all responded with great enthusiasm to her gesture, and that about 1,300 euros (US$1,700) had been raised so far.

"We have as much of a right to raise money as any other business," she said. "We all have a heart too. I hope it will serve as an example to others." (Agencies via Xinhua)

Copyright by Shanghai Star.