Our deepest sympathies to Mr Rodney Tarzan after failing in his gallant attempt to go around the world and back again on elastic. Mr Tarzan, a self-made industrialist from Tyne and Wear is the CEO of Tarzan Elastics, and it was in order to demonstrate the remarkable properties of his company's product that he arranged this extraordinary scheme.
Over a period of eighteen months, Mr Tarzan's company produced a single piece of elastic measuring twelve thousand miles long. Mr Tarzan was confident that his elastic would stretch to a length of at least twenty-six thousand miles - more than enough to allow him to encircle the globe.
Well, that was the theory. And indeed, his journey began quite well. With one end of the elastic tethered to a tree in Middlesborough, the other firmly anchored to his belt, Mr Tarzan set off amidst much pomp and ceremony as local well-wishers gathered to send him on his way. The first leg of his trip took him by ferry to Rotterdam. From then on it was a simple enough matter to travel down through Europe to Istanbul, then on through the Middle East. He encountered one or two bureaucratic hurdles in Pakistan, but once the relevant paperwork had been completed, he was able to proceed quite speedily through China, finally reaching Japan.
By this time Mr Tarzan was starting to feel the strain - quite literally. The elastic was beginning to tighten and progress was becoming measurably more difficult as each day went by. Nevertheless, Mr Tarzan was still in high spirits as he boarded a liner bound for the Americas. It was not to be a pleasant trip for him. The constant tugging of the elastic day and night was beginning to wear him down. By the time the boat was midway across the Pacific, he found that he had to spend all day clinging tightly to the ship's rail to prevent himself being snatched backwards. Eventually, the vessel reached Hawaii for a planned stopover, and it was here that disaster struck. As he was going ashore, Mr Tarzan slipped on the wet walkway and was plucked from his feet. He banged his head several times on the ship's keel before being dragged back across the ocean at gathering speed. By the time he reached Tokyo it is estimated he was doing something like eight hundred miles an hour. Reports of him streaking, missile-like, through China made international headlines and caused the Chinese authorities to scramble three fighter jets. At this point Mr Tarzan blacked out and only remembers brief snippets of the remainder of his journey, including scuffing his knees on the Alps and getting vast tracts of the Black Forest lodged in his undergarments.
He was tracked by radar crossing into British airspace in the early hours of the morning, heading back to his starting point in Middlesborough. Unfortunately, he didn't stop there but kept on going. In fact, it looked as if there would be no stopping him, but then as luck would have it his flight was arrested when he collided with a gannet over the North Atlantic. He was picked up by a fishing trawler shortly afterwards, just off the Icelandic coast.
It wasn't the most successful of ventures, but plucky Mr Tarzan is keen to make another attempt. He is quite convinced that the journey is possible, that his calculations are correct and that his elastic is up to the job. However, he does concede that next time he will need to invest in some better shoes.
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