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From sausage rolls to hairy female scientists: 10 offbeat stories from 2019

By Magdalena Mis

From hit songs about sausage rolls to the world's first odour map, here are 10 of the more offbeat news stories from 2019:

1. Sausage rolls hit No.1 again in UK Christmas charts

British YouTuber LadBaby scored his second consecutive No. 1 Christmas hit, this time with a version of "I Love Rock & Roll" again focused on the popular UK pastry. The song, raising money to feed people in need, was packed with meaty puns sung by Mark Hoyle aka LadBaby and his wife Roxanne and the chorus: "I love sausage rolls, so put another one in the oven, baby". Last year he hit No. 1 with "We Built This City (on sausage rolls)".

2. Manners might be environmentally rude

With more than 64 million unnecessary "thank you" emails per day, Britons significantly boost the country's carbon output, according to a recent study. If each person sent one less, Britain could reduce its output by 16,433 tonnes.

3. The first map of the world's stinky areas

Tested in Barcelona, the D-Noses project allows residents to report unpleasant smells through the free OdourCollect app. Its aim is to help residents pressure politicians to address odour nuisance which, according to experts, can cause a number of ailments including headaches, stress and respiratory problems.

4. Hairy female scientists

Dr Ellen Currano, an associate professor of paleobotany at the University of Wyoming in the United States, got fed up with being overlooked as a female scientist despite doing the same, muddy, field work. She founded the "The Bearded Lady Project: Challenging the Face of Science", with a website, two documentary films, and a travelling exhibit featuring portraits of about 100 female paleontologists with stuck-on facial hair sharing stories about equal pay and field work opportunities.

5. Women reclaim their space

British student Laila Laurel designed an anti-"manspreading" chair, shaped with a wedge that narrows towards the front, forces the user to keep their knees together and stops them from invading the space of a person sitting next to them.

6. Nice house in that selfie - shame it's not yours

In an era when few can afford to buy the actual lifestyle, Instagrammers are using expensive London properties as the backdrop to social media posts. With thousands flocking to Notting Hill - one of London's priciest postcodes - some owners get annoyed, while others let the mostly young people following the trend to pretend to live a live they can't afford.

7. Women put on spin on England soccer anthem

When England's famous soccer anthem was re-written for the country's female football team ahead of the women's World Cup, "three Lions" become "three Lionesses" in the new lyrics with a roll-call of stars from the England women's team.

8. Houston, we have a problem

The first all-female spacewalk in March - Women's History Month - was supposed to mark a giant leap for womankind but had to be cancelled when NASA realised it only had one small spacesuit and two sized small female astronauts, Anne McClain and Christina Koch. The mission was accomplished seven months later in October.

9. Pokemon Go Slow

Pokemon Go, the augmented-reality game, was lauded by Spanish retires who say it keeps them mentally and physically healthy. The residents of the town of Badalona, north of Barcelona, have joined a European initiative to improve the health and quality of life of older citizens by searching for "Pikachus" and "Weedles" and mixing with other people.

10. "Oi Trump"

An art student had a clear message for Donald Trump as he few into Britain in June on a state visit. Ollie Nancarrow, 18, spent a weekend mowing "climate change is real" in giant letters and a massive polar bear into grass underneath the U.S. President's flight path into London.

(Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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