Remember A Day

Belgium’s ‘King of Liars’, abusive parking meters and the last Warner brother: headlines from four decades ago

A journey back through time to look at significant news and events reported by the South China Morning Post from this week in history

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 1:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 4:33pm

The “King of Liars” was crowned in Belgium, and London traffic wardens being “assaulted” by parking meters were just some of the wonderfully weird events that made headlines four decades ago this week.

September 10, 1978

A top-level meeting was planned later in the month in New York in which police, intelligence and immigration officials would come together to stop the recruitment of Hong Kong triad gangsters into the United States to fight in fatal gang wars.

September 11, 1978

The “King of Liars” elected that year in the Belgian town of Namur by his 40 predecessors was a bank manager. Jacques Demeffe was given the crown of biggest liar by the 500-year-old Royal Society of Liars, whose members included journalists, lawyers and dentists.

Jack Warner, film pioneer, “star maker”, and last survivor of the four brothers who founded Warner Brothers film studio, died the night before at the age of 86. Warner ran the studio from 1912 to 1967 and was credited for creating mega stars including Bette Davis, Jack Carson, and Ronald Reagan. The cause of death was not immediately known but he had been in hospital for the past month.

September 12, 1978

The Executive Council had agreed, in principle, to higher taxi fares which could see the flag fall charge – a fixed starting fee – increase in urban areas to HK$5 for the first two to three miles and 50 cents for each subsequent fifth of a mile.

Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua would visit London in a month, amid persisting reports that Beijing might soon sign a multimillion-dollar deal to buy military aircraft from Britain.

September 13, 1978

The director of an Australian television programme on child abuse was expected to be charged over ill-treatment of a four-month-old girl. The man allegedly placed ice on the infant’s feet to make her cry on cue for a few segments of the programme.

Madrid rats, penile implants and balloon crossing: headlines from four decades ago

September 14, 1978

Fed up with sand in his carpet, a Saudi Arabian sheikh sent all 100 square yards of it to a London firm for a quick cleaning job. A sales manager of the cleaning company commented: “It’s the first Arab order we have had and the quickest job … We’re calling it the ‘Magic Carpet’ clean.” The sheikh had demanded the carpet be returned to him in less than 24 hours.

September 15, 1978

A man was fined the equivalent of HK$517 by a court in Pretoria, South Africa, for an assault resulting in the death of a black employee who brought him the wrong brand of cigarettes.

More than a dozen balloons carrying anti-China literature, radio transmitters, and some consumer goods had been found in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh two weeks ago. Officials there believed the balloons were sent from Taiwan.

Traffic wardens in London were complaining of “physical assault” from parking meters. The uniformed wardens, who monitored the meters and issued tickets to drivers for illegal parking, said more than 80 of them had suffered broken fingers and thumbs from springs in the devices, which popped up violently when the meters were rewound.

September 16, 1978

A 72-year-old woman charged with smoking opium and possessing an opium pipe told a Hong Kong court she had to look after her disabled 102-year-old mother who smoked opium to prolong her life. So Lin-shu also said she suffered from tuberculosis herself and occasionally took a “few puffs” to ease her pain. She was fined HK$350.