Here’s one from the “Didn’t They Ever See The Pool Scene From Caddyshack?” files. The French government recently went into full-on crisis mode when it was reported a giant crocodile was cruising the English channel just off the French coast, and it looked hungry…
From this story in the (UK) Daily Mail:
As the rest of the world laughs, French fail to see the funny side of crocodile alert that turned out to be a piece of driftwood. They closed the beaches and called out the army, police, fire service and coastguard. With sightings of a giant crocodile on the prowl in the English Channel, no one could accuse the French of not taking the reports seriously. And they are still treating the incident with a degree of po-faced solemnity ˆ even while the rest of the world is chuckling at the reaction to a crocodile that turned out to be a lump of driftwood.
_One irritated Boulogne councillor said: ‘It is easy to be clever with hindsight. It’s not every day you get a crocodile alert, so we had to be careful.’ The alarm was raised when two men, identified only as Pierre and Laurent, said they saw the giant ‘beast’ circling sailing boats. The predator was described as a ‘huge, razor-sharp-teethed creature’, measuring anything between nine and 12ft.
The French moved into action after ‘experts’ said that, following a long swim, the crocodile would be cold, tired and ˆ rather importantly ˆ very hungry. Warnings in French and English were issued over beachside tannoys, and zoos were investigated to see if any crocodiles were missing. Holidaymaker Keith Jackson, from South London, said: ‘You can always rely on the French to over-react to the slightest hint of danger_
Now, the story appeared in a British newspaper, and it is only fair to point out that the English and French have been hurling insults (and projectiles) at one another for centuries (my wife and I were once on a tour bus in Paris when the English tour guide – quite unprompted – informed the passengers that the French had the lowest per capita use of toothpaste and soap in all of Europe. When reminded that the French bus driver may take exception to his comments, he replied “Oh, that’s OK. He probably can’t speak English, anyway”).
Still, it’s hard not to chuckle at the over-the-top reaction to what ended up being a big log. In the immortal words of Carl Spackler, “It’s no big deal.”