As I write this, the British royal family has a new addition. By the time this is published, he may or may not yet have a name.
There has been a frenzy of speculation and even betting on what the royal heir's name will be. It's a complicated business, because all the royals get a huge gift-basket of names. They're given a first name plus two or three extra names, and they may go by any one of them among family, and then when they get to the throne they may pick another one entirely. We saw this demonstrated in the film "The King's Speech," where a guy named Albert decides to become King George VI when we all know him as Colin Firth.
You can't name a royal baby just anything. Just Anything Philip Arthur George Churchill Lancelot Ethelred Basingstoke Hedgehog Beckham is more like it.
I'm holding out for Todd, myself. Todd or Kevin.
But to my mind (last seen escaping through a mail slot), the deferential spanking of a new royal bottom wasn't the most interesting headline out of Great Britain.
That honor goes to the following item from BBC News: "Woman takes horse into McDonald's."
I was immediately concerned. For a number of reasons, this is not the act of someone with good intentions toward the horse.
A woman was fined for taking her horse into a McDonald's in Greater Manchester -- but there was a very good reason for this outrageous behavior. She was turned away when she tried to ride it through the drive-thru.
So she led it into the restaurant, where it did what horses tend to do from time to time if they are in good digestive health. On the floor.
This seems like a case of a large American multinational not being adequately sensitive to the culture of the places in which it operates. We're talking about the land of "National Velvet" and "Black Beauty," of polo and Ascot and galloping around after little furry creatures. And yet, according to the story, "McDonald's said it was unable to serve customers on horseback."
It's not as if she were the only one, you know. She was accompanied in her attempt at the drive-thru. By a girl. Riding on a pony.
A McDonald's spokeswoman quoted by the BBC said, "The health and safety of our customers and staff is our top priority, and for this reason we are unable to serve pedestrians, bicycle riders or customers on horseback through the drive-thru."
There's a sentence that must have struck its writer as surreal, starting with "The health ... of our customers ... is our top priority."
The horse's reaction to finding itself in a fast-food restaurant -- entirely understandable if the horse has been paying any attention to the news out of Europe - "caused obvious distress and upset to customers trying to eat," according to the Greater Manchester police. Causing "alarm or distress" is actually a summary offense in England and Wales, whereas in this country it is the mission statement of cable channel TLC.
The woman was fined. The horse probably now has an anxiety disorder and a craving for french fries. The fate of the little girl and her pony was not detailed, but I'm sure we'll find out when she gets her own reality TV show, in which she tries to ride a pony through a car wash, a tollbooth and a brew-thru.
Eventually, she will cause so much alarm and distress throughout the land that she will have her citizenship revoked by decree of the head of state himself.
Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: email@example.com.