MYSTERY BIG CAT|Richard_F||02/15/07 at 20:51:18|richard_f|xx|0||From the Sunderland Echo (UK): 12 Feb. 2007
Mystery big cat

Is there nothing to which our southern cousins won't stoop? Now they've
nicked the Durham Puma.

Wearmouth was disgusted to note this week that a mystery big cat is
apparently stalking the leafy streets of Sydenham. But this southern
imposter sadly lacks the style and star instincts of its North Eastern
cousin. The Durham Puma appreciates the first rule of showbiz - always leave
them wanting more.

The mystery moggy is NEVER seen close up and stays in sight just long enough
for a single grainy, out-of-focus photo to be fired off before sneaking into
the undergrowth. Not so the Sydenham Snow Leopard, or whatever it is. It
jumped on 36-year-old Tony Holder after he spotted it savaging his cat. The
incident sparked a massive police operation, but the big cat vanished
without trace.

The British Big Cat Society - - estimates there could
be 100 big cats roaming the land and keeps track of the four sightings a day
on average nationwide. Wearmouth is horrified to note that Durham has fallen
out of the top 10 (if it was ever in there). Apparently Scotland is your
best bet for spotting peripatetic pumas, followed by Kent, Yorkshire and

So Wearmouth is urging his readers to break out the binoculars and head for
the hills this weekend. You've got four whole days to boost the region up
the big cat league. Get spotting!

WEARMOUTH prides himself on being an enthusiastic European. But even he has
to question whether the great project is heading in the
right direction in the light of the latest information on where EU farming
subsidies are going. New details obtained under the Freedom of Information
Act show the Queen and Prince Charles received a total of more than 1m in
EU farm subsidies in the past two years.

That's more than a million quid of our money - yours and mine - handed out
to the world's richest woman and her first born, the lad who got Cornwall
for his birthday. All in all, 17 farmers and agricultural enterprises
received more than 1m each last year from the public purse, while hundreds
of millions of pounds was used to subsidise the UK's agricultural exports,
leaving developing countries unable to compete. Ludicrous.

WEARMOUTH prides himself on his willingness to believe the best of
everybody - but some people really don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
One such rang in last week, following Friday's story about 14-year-old
asylum seeker N'Sira Kourouma, forced to fend for herself after the Home
Office refused to believe her age.

The "gentleman" on the phone was furious that the Echo had highlighted the
case and was adamant that we had only done so because N'Sira was black.
Presumably, he genuinely believed that had a white girl of a similar age
been left on her own - and become so distressed that she contemplated
suicide - we wouldn't have thought it worthy of mention.

Wearmouth would dearly like to be a good enough person to feel pity for
anyone who can be so utterly blinded by his own prejudices - but it really
is a struggle