The story of Harvey Bennett and his ocean-crossing bottle has been widely reported
during the past week. The basic facts are as follows: Harvey Bennett, the owner of a tackle shop in Amagansett, New York, has for years been throwing messages-in-bottles into the Atlantic. He usually never sees the bottles again. But on January 24 he received a package in the mail containing one of his discarded bottles which, apparently, had floated all the way to Bournemouth, England. The finder of the bottle (who knew Bennett's address from the business card in the bottle) had written this note to Bennett:
I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on a beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and speed of oceanic currents, I have another name for it - litter. You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking up somewhere. If you wish to foul your own nest, all well and good. But please refrain in the future from fouling mine.
The strangeness of this reply has puzzled everyone, and even prompted the Daily Telegraph to apologize
for their countryman's lack of humor. But Newsday smells something fishy
with this seafaring bottle story. They don't suspect Harvey Bennett is making up a hoax, but they think someone may be playing a prank on him. They point out that the name of the humorless British correspondent, "Mr. Bigglesworth," is also the name of Dr. Evil's cat in the Austin Powers movies. In addition:
A search of public records turned up no Henry Biggelsworth in Poole or neighboring Bournemouth... On a customs label affixed to the package, the sender used a slightly different spelling - Bigglesworth - when signing his name... The sender left out the "e" in Bournemouth on the return address. There is also no street in Bournemouth called "The Bowery." And the postal code should have begun with "BH" not "BJ."
Assuming that Bennett is trustworthy, I'm guessing that one of three things could have happened: a) The bottle really did make its way to England, and the reply was meant to be tongue-in-cheek; b) The bottle was found by someone in America and shipped to England, from where it was sent back to Bennett... making this a bottle version of the traveling-gnome prank; or c) the whole thing was engineered by some of Bennett's friends as a prank on him. They put one of his business cards in a bottle and arranged for it to be sent to him from England.