YORK's Mayor Irene Waudby has taken off big style - travelling by plane for the first time to bang the drum for the city in South Africa.

After spending more than half a century with her feet firmly on the ground, the high-flying worthy joined a party of mayors from across Britain, jetting for 11 hours to South Africa.

Coun Waudby said her fellow travellers were gobsmacked to learn it was just her second ever trip out of Britain.

She says: "People could not believe that for my first flight I would travel so far but it didn't worry me at all. I've been to Holland once on the ferry... but that was a long time ago."

The party had a tour round the prison where Nelson Mandela was so cruelly incarcerated for 27 years.

She said: "That was just unbelievable. The cell was smaller than the ones we have in Fulford Police Station."

Which makes me wonder - how on earth does she know?

Sorry, your worshipfulness, only a joke.

STILL in the wide world, great news for York holidaymakers. You can now insure yourself against death or injury from falling coconuts when in exotic climes.

Travel insurer Club Direct confirmed that holidaying coconut victims will be guaranteed full cover under their travel insurance policy.

The news follows reports from Queensland, Australia, that coconut trees are being uprooted by local councils fearful of being sued for damages by people injured by coconuts.

Coconut injury expert Professor Peter Barss, of McGill University, who was presented with a Nobel award at Harvard University last year for his paper Injuries Due To Falling Coconuts, reports that coconuts weigh up to 8.8lbs and can easily fall 80 feet from the top of the tree. This gives them an impact speed of about 50mph, walloping humans with a force greater than a tonne.

"Coconuts kill around 150 people worldwide each year, which makes them about ten times more dangerous than sharks", says Brent Escott, managing director of Club Direct. "People may worry about being bitten by sharks when visiting Australia, but I suggest we would be better advised not to sit under coconut trees."

Sharks are relatively docile. World wide, they attacked only 79 people in the year 2000, killing ten, three of whom were in Australia.

I scour the world to bring you such drivel and this year I'm taking an autumn break in leafy Pocklington. No danger of falling coconuts there, just the occasional conker.

SO you think you know football? Here's a brain-teaser that will run rings around many fans.

As an added incentive I have five CDs to give to the winner of my What Is It? competition....

Manchester United have done it more times than any other British club.

Everton, Charlton and Oldham have done it, but Wimbledon will never do it unless Crystal Palace go bankrupt.

Manchester United did it in 1992.

Aston Villa did it at their first attempt.

Tottenham, Wolves, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester City and West Ham have all done it.

Liverpool did it in an unusual way.

No one did it last season.

Only one is expected to do it this season.

What is it?

Send your answers, with your name address and daytime phone number to: What Is It?, Dick Turpin, PO Box 29, The Evening Press, 76-86 Walmgate, York YO1 9YN by next Friday.

SPEAKING of which, I went along to Bootham Crescent last Saturday with my mate Stan from Hartlepool to see the mighty Minstermen slug it out with the Monkey Hangers.

Hartlepool missed two sitters in the first half when it would have been easier to hit the back of the net. York City clinched victory with a well-taken goal in the 68th minute but the highlight of an afternoon of dreary football was the public address announcement asking for the father of a lost little boy to go and pick him up at the gym... for the second time!

The boy showed remarkable sense, as getting lost sounded infinitely preferable to watching the game.

Stan summed up the first 67 minutes with: "I think if both teams were kicking into the same goal they wouldn't score."

IN a survey of Yorkshire business executives of the most important inventions ever, Marks & Clerk, the Leeds-based intellectual property specialists, found:

78 per cent think the wheel is mankind's most important invention.

The Internet is not viewed as a great leap forward in Yorkshire, with just 14 per cent classifying it as a very important invention.

The invention of the printing press is seen as more than twice as important as the invention of the Internet.

The telephone is the invention favoured by females - twice as many women as men think the development of the mobile phone was a very important stage in mankind's evolutionary progress.

Asked to score a list of named inventions in terms of their importance to mankind, the top bananas determined the five greatest to be: 1. Wheel 2. Microchip 3. Internal combustion engine 4. Telephone 5. Printing press.

Updated: 11:53 Saturday, February 23, 2002