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'Norman Wisdom moment' breaks pricey vases

UPI News Service, 04/05/2006 

A man who says he tripped over his shoelace and broke three 17th-century Chinese vases at a Cambridge, England, museum has been arrested, a report said.

Nick Flynn, 42, of Fowlmere, England, was being held on suspicion of deliberately damaging the Qing dynasty vases when he fell down a stairway and into a window display at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

"I snagged my shoe lace, missed the step and crash, bang, wallop ... there were a million pieces of high-quality ceramics lying around," Flynn told the Times of London.

He described the fall as a "Norman Wisdom moment," a reference to the slapstick British comic.

Restorers were trying to glue 400 pieces from the three smashed vases, the least damaged of which was worth an estimated $875,000.

Museum officials said the vases might return one day to their window display but, in the future, would be protected by a barrier.

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Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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