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Message In A Bottle Crosses Atlantic
Status: Undetermined
image 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.
Exploration/TravelPranks
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 06, 2006


It may also be a hoax because of a far more important reference than Austin Powers: "Bigglesworth" was the name of a Boys Novel Hero that is famous in Great Britain. There is a HUGE series of books involving him. Why is this significant? Because while famous in Britain, the name is relatively unknown except by ex-pats here in North America.

Of course, Captain Bigglesworth was not noticably anti-American...
Posted by Jeremy Osborn  in  Canada  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  12:11 PM
Anyone whos seen Monty Python has heard of Biggles smile
Posted by Sharruma  in  capable of finishing a coherent  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  01:24 PM
I can't even get the soap to come back to me in the bathtub.
Posted by Lonewatchman  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  03:22 PM
I'm not sure. I think it might be scenario A per Alex. I just heard it on a local radio station news break in Charleston, SC. Of course there is no reliability on the radio stations down here.
Posted by dae dae  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  06:26 PM
As a member of the International Biggles Association, I must chime in re the name of the sender!

First, Biggles (James Bigglesworth, DFC), the creation of Captain W.E. Johns, is a very well known character of literature in Britain, and some other European countries (e.g. my country, Holland). British (and Dutch) boys grew up with the books, which were even used in school.

"Biggles" in the books frequently stood for "right behaviour" and "what it means to be British".

As indeed the chracter seems to be largely unknown in the USA (only a few books were brought on the US market at thhe te and were not quite succesful), it might point to a genuine British origin for the letter. And to me, it certainly seems a "nom de plume".
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  06:38 PM
This "news" was reported today in the Chicago Sun-Times, so it must be fake. smile
Posted by eriC draveS  in  Over here somewhere  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  11:57 PM
well here i am and it's not a fake, get ready uk here i come! capt. harvey bennett:
Posted by harvey bennett  in  amagansett  on  Tue Apr 11, 2006  at  08:42 PM
Apart from the reply tis sounds plausible
Posted by J  on  Thu Oct 19, 2006  at  11:50 AM
I am preparing to send out a series of messages in bottles, each including a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I look forward to the possible responses.
In case you're interested:
You can find an electronic copy of the Declaration at http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr, or call the United Nations by telephone at 800.253.9646 (toll-free), or 212.963.8302, or by fax at 212.963.3489, or by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
Posted by Julian Wheeler  in  Seattle, Washington  on  Mon Oct 26, 2009  at  06:06 AM
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