Odd stories - Exhibition of JRR Tolkien ‘Hobbit’ ring

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Round-up of weird stories from around the world

‘HOBBIT’ RING

An ancient gold ring which is believed to have inspired JRR Tolkien to write The Hobbit is to have its own exhibition for the first time.

The ring, which was found in a farmer’s field in 1785, is linked to a Roman curse tablet which echoes the legends created by Tolkien in his fantasy novels. It is now to go on display at a National Trust property, The Vyne in Hampshire, where the ring, which is inscribed in Latin and inset with an image of the goddess Venus, lay forgotten in the library for years.

Archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler realised the connection between the ring and the curse tablet, and in 1929 asked Tolkien, who was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, for help. It is believed Tolkien would have been made aware of the existence of the ring - and within a year he began writing The Hobbit.

HARD RIDE

An endurance cyclist is aiming to set a new record for the quickest 1,700-mile journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back.

Chris Hopkinson hopes to better the current time for the so-called “Lejogle” of five days, 21 hours and eight minutes, set in 2010.

The 45-year-old music teacher from Richmond, North Yorkshire, set off from Land’s End on Tuesday and is using the record attempt to raise awareness of the Royal Signals Benevolent Fund.

FISH EYE

A puffer fish has undergone a delicate operation to remove an eye after developing a cataract.

Mini, who has lived at Bristol Zoo’s aquarium for eight years, developed a cataract and a painful swollen eye last year. Vets decided the fish needed an operation and it would have to be done out of water.

Maintaining anaesthesia in a fish out of water can be challenging, as it involves constantly passing medicated water over the gills of the fish and keeping the skin wet. A team of vets managed to remove the eye in an operation that lasted one hour. “We had to move quickly to help Mini,” said Jonny Rudd, assistant curator of the aquarium.

MATTER OF TASTE

New York subway passengers, after being cautioned about smoking, sugar and teenage pregnancy, are getting a new message: Pass on the salt.

The city’s Department of Health has launched an ad campaign urging them to check the salt in packaged foods and choose those with less.

The approach is relatively low-key for a city that has shown passengers photographs of a woman’s amputated fingers to illustrate the hazards of smoking; other subway ads featured a soda bottle pouring out what looks like globs of fat to tell people, “Don’t drink yourself fat.”

SHELL SHOCKED

A children’s Easter egg hunt turned nasty at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle when one mother pushed a toddler aside so her own child could get to some eggs first.

Police said she and the mother of the other child began fighting and had to be separated three or four times. The fisticuffs left one woman with a bloody nose.

Only one mother was still there when officers arrived. She said she was not interested in pursuing charges against her attacker.

KEYED UP

An 1877 Steinway grand piano used by Motown greats during the label’s 1960s heyday and restored thanks to Paul McCartney’s generosity is back home in Detroit.

He told Motown Historical Museum following a 2011 concert in Detroit that he wanted to help with the piano’s refurbishment after learning the historic instrument no longer could be played.

Work on the piano was completed last August, and the ex-Beatle and Motown founder Berry Gordy played it together during a September charity event at Steinway Hall in New York .