Remember A Day

Smelly debt collectors, Sophia Loren’s obscenity trial, and a salmon heist gone wrong: 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, 25 October, 2018, 3:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 3:36pm

Hollywood screen siren Sophia Loren being accused of obscenity, and debt collectors using a foul-smelling tactic to recover money made the headlines four decades ago this week.

October 22, 1978

A leading West German bank would be sending a delegation to Beijing later that month to negotiate a record-breaking US$70 billion credit agreement. The loan would be used to finance West German construction of one of the largest steel mills in the world in Hubei province. The financing agreement would run for 10 years and would be a combination of export financing credits and conventional syndicated loans.

An estimated 10 per cent of the world’s vanishing cheetah population arrived at Kai Tak Airport that week – but only their pelts. The shipment of 319 cheetah skins, valued at US$200,000 and intended to be made into coats, was seized by Agriculture and Fisheries Department officers.

A Japanese rightist, opposed to the Sino-Japanese peace and friendship treaty, attempted to kill himself with a knife outside the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo. The 38-year-old man’s hara-kiri attempt occurred on the eve of the arrival of Chinese Senior Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping in the Japanese capital.

October 23, 1978

Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years, was installed during a mass attended by 200,000 cheering people, including at least 3,000 Poles who flew in on specially arranged flights, in St Peter’s Square and declared he had become a Roman.

About 1,000 people from the squalid slums of New Delhi, India, walked into the government-owned Ashoka Hotel to sample some of its luxury. Hotel staff refused to serve them tea, even though they were able to foot the bill.

Damages equivalent to HK$900 were awarded by a Paris court to each of 14 Crazy Horse Saloon nude dancers whose photographs were used without their permission by a French magazine.

October 24, 1978

The traditional midnight scramble for buns to mark the climax of the annual Ta Chiu festival on Cheung Chau was likely to be banned by the government “in the interest of public safety”. In the previous year, 24 people (including five policemen), were injured when two of the three 60-foot towers collapsed during the midnight melee.

A man shot and killed his eight-year-old son in their Paris home because he mistook him for a burglar. Jacques Golisset, 29, was disturbed at night by noises from his kitchen. He grabbed his hunting rifle and shot the apparent intruder in the darkened hallway. When he switched the light on, he found his son with a bullet through the temple.

October 25, 1978

A six-month-old baby girl was savaged to death by two pet ferrets as she lay in her cot at her London home during the night. Pamela Burgin’s parents were out when the animals escaped from their cage and attacked her.

About 300,000 families would have to pay more to stay in their public housing flats in a month. The rent for a typical 120 square foot flat would go up from HK$33 to HK$44 per month, while that for a 234 square foot unit would increase from HK$103 to HK$124 a month.

A Filipino actress’ virginity and Britain’s flea epidemic: past headlines

October 26, 1978

A British toy company was to sell the equivalent of HK$225 million worth of machinery and equipment to China over the next 10 years. Dunbee-Combex-Marx said Beijing would pay half in cash and the rest in toys.

Hong Kong businessman Shiu-kin Tang donated HK$1 million to a fund in the UK to set up a Battle of Britain museum. It was the biggest donation received by the fund.

October 27, 1978

Debt collectors smelling of old socks, rotten eggs and stale fish were being used by a London firm, the Daily Mirror reported. Peter Stokes, owner of the debt-collecting company, said the idea was to embarrass the clients they wanted money from, so they would pay up quickly to get rid of the “smellies”.

While one court in Italy was busy trying film actress Sophia Loren on currency smuggling charges (in her absence), another accused her of obscenity in connection with her role in the Canadian film Angela, in which she played a prostitute.

October 28, 1978

China would build a golf course in Beijing by 1980 for the use of foreign visitors. Chinese experts who took part in the construction of a golf course in Shanghai would be in charge of building the Beijing course.

The thief who stole 400 cans of salmon from a shop in England could be in for a nasty surprise, according to the Department of Health. The government body warned that the tins were part of a suspect batch from an Alaskan plant and had been withdrawn from sale.

Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history