Two wars, one cup, one clanger

Hopes that this summer's Euro 96 soccer championships will encourage better relations between England and her continental cousins are likely to receive a nasty setback in Manchester. The city is to play host to the German national team, and is honouring their visit with an exhibition at the City Art Gallery.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. But sensitive souls among you will shudder when I tell you that the work of one of the 12 commissioned artists is inspired by the football terrace chant: "One World Cup and two World Wars".

Martin Vincent is offering a "photo-work" depicting the football immortalised by the English army captain W P Nevill at the Somme, who famously offered a prize to the first of his platoons to kick it into the enemy trenches, before being killed.

How does Mr Vincent account for such provocative work?

"Football is the main site of cultural exchange," he says blithely, seeming to forget that it is also the main site for nationalistic exchange of the ugliest variety (with England boasting probably the worst reputation in the world for such excess into the bargain).

"If you ask most people what they know about Germany, they'll tell you we had two wars with them, and beat them in the World Cup final," continues Vincent, who for obvious reasons does not involve himself in European politics.

The exhibition is still awaiting official backing from Euro 96. Its bid may not receive much support from the local team. Manchester City Football Club fields no less than three German players.

Pregnant pause at Dartington Hall

It should be no surprise that Lord Young of Dartington is once again becoming a father at the age of 80. I have evidence to prove it.

A copy of Lord Young's schoolday recollections, Elmhirsts of Dartington, has landed on my desk. In one part, Lord Young writes the following of Dartington Hall's first headmaster, Mr Curry: "Curry was proud of the fact that at Dartington there were hardly any pregnancies amongst Dartington girls and seldom any pornographic drawings or writings on the walls of lavatories or anywhere else."

So far, so good. But then Lord Young adds a further paragraph, into which you may read what you will: "He was fortunate in the paucity of pregnancies. It was not for want of trying..."

Shoppers shocked at the supermarket

The motto "Shop till you drop" has taken on a whole new meaning in the Lake District. Customers of Booths supermarket in Windermere have been blown back several paces after receiving electric shocks from their trolleys, which are unable to earth the static electricity in their wheels on account of a new rubber-backed floor being laid on the premises.

Unsurprisingly, the Preston-based chain is having to call in the manufacturers and change the 1,000 wheels on its 250 trolleys pronto. The store manager, Eric McCabe, who was himself one of the trolley victims, said reassuringly yesterday: "No one is going to die ... however, it is all very unsatisfactory. The only shocks our customers should receive are because of our very low prices."

He was not shocked sufficiently, it would appear, to lose his sense of humour.

Cows in, cans out, but look on the bright side

The music on telephone exchanges has become the Muzak of business life, but it usually hits a note far more incongruous than appropriate. Not so at Great Harwood Food Products, a meat processing company in Lancashire.

As one is put on hold, dreaming idly of poor cows going in one end, cans coming out the other, one is somewhat taken aback to hear "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Those with good memories will recall that the song is sung by those waiting extinction at the end of the film. I can only presume that somebody at Great Harwood has a macabre sense of humour.

Who do you think you are, journalists?

John Major is obviously not prepared to live dangerously during his trip round Asia. Yesterday, journalists were told that today's press conference in Seoul would consist of two questions only; one from a Korean, and one from the BBC's Robin Oakley. Anybody else would have to stay stumm ...

Ugandans rap discussions

Private Eye may never recover. For years, it has eccentrically alluded to sex as "activity of a Ugandan nature". Amorous couples are said to engage in "Ugandan discussions". All this will have to change, though, with the arrival on the pop scene of Uganda's latest rap band (pictured, left and right), who are currently working with Island Records and featured on Africa Express, a Channel 4 documentary screened last Thursday.

The band consists of young, sassy girls, who sing about - well, sex. Those satirists at the Eye will doubtless be chuckling into their Groucho club cocktails - until, that is, they listen closely to the lyrics.

They are one long tirade against casual sex, promiscuity, and - in short - all activities of a "Ugandan" nature. And the name of the band? The distinctly un-"Ugandan" Prim 'n' Propa.