Five Lessons Learnt This Week

Five Lessons Learnt is our weekly round-up of all the strange, off-beat and funny news of the week. Perfect for a bit of Friday afternoon entertainment and a light-hearted look at what’s been going on away from the charts!

This week in Five Lessons Learnt: sugar taxes, Nandos mishaps, moving mountains, retirement PhDs and the women who landed a plane in a country where they’re not even supposed to drive…

1. Ben Nevis is growing

ben nevisGood news for anyone who’s ever climbed Ben Nevis – your efforts have just become even more impressive as experts have discovered the mountain is actually 1m taller than previously thought. A new Ordnance Survey calculation has recorded the mountain’s height at 1,345m (previous measurements from 1949 had it down at 1,344m).

The change in height is not, unfortunately, down to the mountain literally growing, but due to the fact that better technology has made the reading more accurate. Last time Ben Nevis was measured, it took a team of seven surveyors 20 nights of hauling 200lbs of equipment to collect their data, so experts have admitted it’s actually surprising how close to accurate their initial reading was.

1 metre might not sound like much to make a fuss about, but when you’ve climbed over 1,000m we’re willing to bet you want every last cm counted.

2. Always be yourself

chilliYep, even on a first date – or you could end up like Jonny Smith, who came up with a genius plan to impress his date only to have it spectacularly backfire. Smith, 25, decided to take his tinder date to chicken restaurant Nandos – but there was a problem. He doesn’t like spicy food but didn’t want his date to see that he had gone for plain chicken (because “plain equals lame”, apparently). So when he ordered, he asked for a plain chicken with an extra-hot flag.

It’s not the first time he’d played this trick (the charmer) so he thought it was fool-proof. But soon after his food arrived, he realised the plan had backfired and he had actually been served extra-hot chicken. After trying to put a brave face on it and power through his meal, Smith ended up spending 15 minutes in the toilets with his mouth under the cold water tap while his date ate alone.

Smooth. He probably shouldn’t hold out hope for a second date, but at least he’s a viral legend now.

3. Why drive when you can fly

aeroplaneThree female pilots made history this week after becoming the first all-female flight crew to man a Royal Brunei Airlines flight. Captain Sharifah Czarena (who was also the first female captain of a flag carrier airline in Southeast Asia) was accompanied by First Officers Sariana Nordin (who became Royal Brunei’s first ever female pilot back in 2006) and Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem as she piloted a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on flight BI081 from Brunei to Jeddah.

That’s right – the all-female crew landed the plane in Saudi Arabia, a country where few women even drive cars (there is no law banning women from driving, but Saudi clerics argue that female drivers “undermine social values”).

The trio are hopeful that their historic trip will inspire more of the next generation of young women to become pilots (although the number of female pilots is on the rise, currently only 3% of pilots are female). That’s what we call flying the flag.

4. Every day’s a school day

bookMost people we know were glad to call it a day after their finals and quick to get rid of their university textbooks any way possible (selling them, giving them away, ceremoniously burning them…)

But Colette Bourlier persevered with her studies for much longer than the average person – and has just become the oldest person in France to be awarded a PhD after an epic 30 years of study. Colette embarked on her PhD after retiring back in 1983. Instead of spending her retirement travelling or becoming an expert in daytime TV, she has spent the last three decades writing her thesis on immigration and labour in eastern French city Besançon.

And her perseverance paid off as she graduated with a high distinction for her research. Bravo, Colette – it must be time for a well-earned rest now, surely?!

5. Sweet enough already

sugarThe announcement of a surprise sugar tax in Wednesday’s budget saw shares in multinational agribusiness (and famous sugar brand) Tate and Lyle plummet. After George Osborne announced the levy against soft drinks containing added sugar, Tate and Lyle saw their share price drop from 567.50 to 556 in just 5 minutes.

There was just one problem, though – Tate and Lyle don’t even deal in sugar anymore, having sold their sugar business almost six years ago to American Sugar Refining. Ooops.

Once the market realised their mistake, shares climbed most of the way back up and hit 566 by 3pm. But there’s still no sugar coating that slip-up… (sorry).

In other news, the sugar tax on soft drinks is set to make your gin and tonic fix pricier. The good news is it’s the weekend, the tax has yet to be imposed and your local is eagerly awaiting your arrival…

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