Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Husband eats 50-year-old chicken"

Admit it. You read the headline above and imagined a story about domestic bliss shattered when the husband eats a really old, decrepit chicken. I did. You're not alone. BBC sub-editors can be confusing like that.

But it turns out that Les Lailey, 73, from Denton in Greater Manchester, is in the news not for poultricide but, essentially, for opening a really old can.

When he and the fragrant Beryl tied the knot in 1956, they were given a hamper of food to have as a picnic. After tucking in, they were full before they could open the can of chicken, and so decided to save it for later. Sometime in the next millenium.

Points of interest about this classic local newspaper story.

1) They used to have cans of chicken. And not just cans of chicken as in 'Chicken of the Sea', but "a whole chicken in a tin". From the picture below, I'd say it was a baby.

2) Professor Eunice Taylor, a food safety expert at the University of Salford, says canned food can last almost indefinitely. That's what I assumed. But apparently, the "shelf life" is only six months. So hoarding cans of food may not be the gourmet solution when the apocalypse hits.

3) You can be an actual Professor in food safety. Presumably via a Masters in freezing or a PhD in clingfilm.

4) The picture. Yes, they're a sweet old couple, and yes, they were once fit and handsome (follow the link and scroll down to the wedding picture. And check out Beryl's sister. She's a bit of alright...) But this is realistically their last shot at international media stardom, a chance to have their story beamed around the world. Who knows, possibly a Sky News interview or Radio 2 phone in?

It's an opportunity, no doubt. But an opportunity Mr Lailey appears to be seizing in his dressing gown.


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