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A TIP of the Martini glass to ITV's commentary team, Clive Tyldesley and Ron Atkinson, who managed to get through 90 gruelling minutes of Manchester United versus Juventus this week without once referring to the alleged sexploits of United's striking stallions Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke (pictured). Or so it seemed - until Tyldesley reminded viewers that "Alex Ferguson has always said that his team can score anywhere, anyplace, anytime."

SUNSHINE'N'LOLLIPOPS? Not for New Labour's Scottish auxiliaries. The chumps in charge of the party, currently 12-1 on to win the most seats in the Assembly, have chosen "Altogether Now" by the Farm as the party's campaign choon. The auspices are not good: the same song was last used seven years ago (remember?) by that electoral dynamo Neil Kinnock. But the news from bookies William Hill is unlikely to give New Labour's rivals north of the border much comfort - the SNP are quoted at 6-1, and both the Lib-Dems and Tories are available at a very sporting 200-1.

PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE between red and grey squirrels at Stormont has excited some optimistic metaphor-making among pundits. But closer scrutiny of the environment reveals this is not a blueprint for peace in our time. "You won't see a grey and a red squirrel sitting on the same branch together," says a local wildlife watcher. The only time the two species meet, says our man in the undergrowth, is during food scavenging hunts. "While they don't actually attack each other," he says, "a lot of posturing goes on."

THE BELEAGUERED Express has sustained another casualty - hotshot PR agency Hobsbawn Macaulay. Rosie Boycott originally hired the Brown Babe outfit to raise her profile. But desperate suits at the luckless Lubyanka complain that what the group really needs is an aggressive approach to selling papers, not personalities. Hence the arrival in la Hobsbawn's place of Brian Basham, the pugnacious corporate strategist. Perhaps he can begin by persuading the tousle-haired Irish philanthropist Bob Geldof to stop humiliating the tabloid babe. Just consider Boycott's embarrassment at a literary festival party she hosted recently in London. Rocking Bob was meant to present Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood with a trophy before the assembled worthies. Strangely, he seems to have found better things to do with his time.

MILLENNIUM DOME sculptor Nigel Coates was partying this week with designers Ally Cappellino and Antonio Berardi, painter Jonathan Yeo and thesp Sheba Ronay at the La Perla show for Marino Parisotto Vay at the Serpentine Gallery. Perhaps it was caprice, perhaps it was too much pop but several femmes were seen wearing garters, which they had received as parting gifts, over their eyes, yashmak-style. Is it a trend? Is it a fashion statement? Or is it just stupid? Sure, Asian esoterica is all the rage but where will this end - underpants on our noggins?

DON KING and his wondrous hairstyle were surprised to get a call from Mike Tyson, speaking from his Maryland prison cell. Please Don, the ex- champ lisped, let's forget our beef about money and put this bad blood behind us. All will be forgiven, Tyson promised, if you fly down here right now because I have a really serious problem. The hypnotically tressed fight promoter jumped on his jet and flew down to the prison. Only to find on arrival that Tyson wouldn't see him and still hates him: the stunt was the work of a talented mimic at a local radio station. Is this a case of the biter bit, or the promoter fixed?


GEORGE MICHAEL, whose oral talents won him the Vocalist of the Year gong at the Capital Radio Awards this month, is releasing a new single called "Y2K". The singer's mouthpiece insists the title is a millennial reference. But far from official sauces have noticed the planet's dominant zipper manufacturer is a Japanese firm called YKK. Is this, they wonder, another self-depreciating reference to the singer's predilection for impromptu bathroom inspections?

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