The festive season is approaching, so it's time for everyone's favorite giant Swedish straw caprid to suffer from repeated attacks. Already ("The front hoof smells of petrol") this year's goat at Gävle has been attacked. Of the 76 goats to date, 33 have been burnt (includes goats burnt down more than once and goats only partially burnt), 7 vandalised (includes goats thrown in the river), 1 run over and 1 stolen, giving a survival rate of 45%. The goat attracts international attention and attacks; in 2001 a tourist from Cleveland, Ohio was jailed for 18 days [Swedish] [English] for igniting the goat. Last year's goat survived to December 2nd (traumatic video). Gävlebocken is 13 metres tall and consists of 3.6 tonnes of straw. While intact it tweets, and blogs in Swedish and English. [more inside]
The Serbian folk tradition of weaving and shaping straws of wheat, by artists who call themselves straw-girls (slamarke divojke), is showcased in the trailer for Branko Istvancic's documentary film "From Grain To Painting" [more inside]
Walter Wolfgang, 82, was ejected from the Labour Party conference and stopped by police under the Anti-terrorism Act, for heckling Jack Straw. But when he spoke in Oxford... a Barbershop Quintet struck a blow for freedom of speech.