Robberies cause a stir
Robbers nicknamed the "barista bandits" have been terrorising coffee stalls in Seattle. More than 10 espresso stands were held up at gunpoint last month by thieves, who targeted young women assistants and never robbed more than £100. The chief bandit, described as a fine-featured man with a baseball cap and a goatee, turned out on arrest to be a woman wearing a false beard and carrying a replica gun in her waistband. She was charged with robbery after a hold-up at a Java the Hut stall.
Driving them from drink
Drinkers at the Little Mill Inn, Mellor, Stockport, are enjoying a stylish chauffeur service since the owner bought a decommissioned London Routemaster bus to help combat drink-driving. Ian Fletcher paid £9,400 for the red bus to ferry his regulars between Mellor and the surrounding villages. He said: "With everyone aware of drink-driving these days, people don't want to drive out into the country for a drink."
Conditions are altared
Drinkers may be able to spend longer hours in the pub under the new licensing laws, but clergy are finding it more difficult to buy altar wine. A number of traditional suppliers have been forced to abandon sales of fortified Communion wine because of the extra cost and red tape required by the reforms. Christian bookshops must now obtain a £600 licence to sell alcohol, which is then renewed each year for a further £100, and at least two members of staff must be on duty at any one time. Robert Donald, a church of England clergyman, said: "This is one of those cases where the law is an ass, and I hope the bookshops can once more be exempted."
Bed, board and carriage
Those considerate chaps at Best Western Hotels have launched a joint promotional campaign with National Rail. People who travel by train during January, February and March - for whatever distance - will automatically qualify for a two-nights-for-the-price-of-one deal at any Best Western hotel. After the latest above-inflation price hike by rail operators, passengers will need all the help they can get to rein in expenses.