The Loop: Falling to Earth

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

This week the Magazine mused, among other things, about the comparisons between superheroes and Jesus, following novelist Rhidian Brook's thoughts on the latest Superman film.

Brook had written that in comic books, the superhero does what the government, the law or the army are unable to do. But Magazine reader E Parry of Wiltshire is not convinced. "Anybody who knows anything about superheroes would tell you that refusing to use your powers and trying to use more 'human' methods such as superior reasoning or problem-solving is always the thing that makes a superhero a hero. The super bit is laid over that but the stories everybody really loves are the ones where the hero has his/her back up against the wall, perhaps robbed of their powers... and all they have left to save the world is the way that they think and the inventive ways they can come up with to get out of a situation."

In one scene in an earlier Superman film, the hero falls to Earth, apparently adopting a crucifixion pose. The survival of Tom Stilwell from a 15th floor apartment in Auckland, New Zealand, was undoubtedly more due to luck than superpowers. Our round-up of other lucky escapes inspired reader Alan Corrie to write to us with his chilling story.

Image caption A powered paraglider (but not Alan's... or Bear's)

"I fly powered paragliders (the same machine that Bear Grylls flew to the height of Everest) and at the end of January last year I had the misfortune to almost collide with another pilot at 1000ft. The result was that our paragliders wings tangled around each other and then around me, stopping me from deploying my parachute until it was too late to work.

"Fortunately, the other pilot was able to deploy his parachute and as I was tangled in his wing, his parachute saved both of us although I broke six or seven vertebrae in the process. The other pilot was able to land safely, presumably because my having hit the ground first reduced the load on his parachute sufficiently to allow a safe landing. After a good deal of [surgery], physiotherapy and exercise I starting flying again one year after the accident."

If you have stomach for it, the video from Alan's onboard camera is on YouTube here.


Charles Nevin last week had a few thoughts about spectacular mistakes, including the tattooist who wrote "Stan's Slaves" on two clients, rather than what they had asked for (Satan, rather than Stan). But naturally the floodgates opened.

Paul Gentle from Poole in Dorset says he was wrong to say Eve ate an apple.

Image caption This type of Apple?

"Look it up, nowhere does it say in the Bible what she ate, what she ate is irrelevant, only the fact she disobeyed God. The apple comes from the need for the Artist to show something in her hand." [Note to self: Insert picture of apple.]

There were other contributions too, which we will skirt over, before adding this from Grant MacLean of Halifax, Canada.

"With any luck, you've been deluged by pedantry about your 'Outstanding mistakes of all time' that the name 'Rommel' is misspelled. Otherwise, outstanding, as always," he writes. Very kind, which makes it easier to say the following: The Magazine itself, not Nevin, is responsible for spellings.

On Twitter this week @BBCNewsMagazine asked what was missing from this photograph.

It was a rhetorical question, kind of, but of course there were suggestions.

Last week The Loop reported on the reactions to our article on Eight radical solutions to the problem of dog poo. The debate has stuck to our shoe.

Basil Long from Nottingham writes: "Almost as unsightly are the 'clean-up' signs sprayed on the floor. Having walked into the town where I work this lunch, it is absolutely splattered with them. The worst thing is that they don't remove them once they have aged - they either spray the stencil over them again, making them unreadable; or else just leave them to deteriorate as a nasty white stain."

Someone kindly sent us their Facebook page of dog poo. Yep that's right. Just dog poo (caveat clickor). Mike Logan from Sheffield at least spares a thought for the care one has to take in writing about such a subject: "The article on dog poo was quite amusing. Almost every reference to the offending waste material had a new name, as if the author had a specialist Excretiathaurus, in a brave attempt to exclude the 'S' or the 'C' words."

I'd ID

Clare Spencer's article on still being asked for ID even though she's 31 touched a nerve. Rozzy Roan of Wiltshire writes:

"I was asked for ID when buying the smallest and bluntest butter knife in a hardware shop as they didn't think I looked 18. I was 37 at the time and wondered if they would have asked me if I'd had my two daughters with me."

Giles Barton, 25, of London says: "The only time I don't get ID'd is when I go to the supermarket with my girlfriend (who is 27) presumably because it is assumed that she must be younger. Bars rarely ask for ID, supermarkets always do."

Keith Ruffles of Belfast, who has worked in shops and pubs, reports from the other side of the counter. "Even though I hated doing it - it seemed to be suggesting that our customers may be attempting to purchase these goods illegally - the law states that we would personally be fined a substantial amount as well as the company if we were found in breach. We'd also either face disciplinary proceedings or quite possibly lose our jobs."

Steven L of Cardiff adds. "I got asked for ID trying to buy Christmas crackers - I was 31. The attendant who told me that I have to older than 16 to buy them was clearly about 10 years younger than me. It annoyed at the time as I didn't have my ID with me. Worst thing is that I went without crackers that year."

Image caption ... Oh!

And don't think the problem will go away. Terry from Skipton adds this perspective. "I was seriously chuffed to be IDed last month. I'm 61 and was with two friends of a similar age. But while the ticket woman was happy to give them their seniors' discount, when it got to my turn she said 'Well at least you'll be paying full price.' It made my day and ruined theirs."


And finally two verbatim emails, one from Clive DuPort, Vale, Guernsey, celebrating our longstanding interest in nominative determinism.

"No, surely not? Philippa Fogarty reporting from Singapore on the smog? You couldn't make it up!"

And this from longstanding Magazine reader Candace of New Jersey, on President Obama getting George Osborne's name wrong.

"I routinely answer to Kansas, Canvas and my personal favourite Candance. The worst was when I was called Susan, by an older co-worker who greeted me in the lift in front of two Canadian visitors who raised their eyebrows, but said nothing. When asked about it later, I explained that to him I would always be Susan."

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