Almanack: Penned by the Hand of God?

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A NOTE has arrived from A M Heath, literary agents to a figure not previously celebrated for his prose style: Diego Maradona. Messrs Heath are hawking a series of articles by 'the wrold's (sic) most charismatic footballer' to be composed during the World Cup. 'Extra articles by Maradona', the document goes on, 'have to be attractive to yourr (sic) readers.'

A further memo details the 'Unusal (sic) - and urgent - offer' in language that is almost English, but not quite. The literary agents are confident that 'we will achieve prominent worldwide placements.' So what is Diego's stuff actually like?

Sadly, although his spelling is rather better than his agents', Diego is not the spiritual heir of Jorge Luis Borges and Manuel Puig. He remembers the field on which he played his first games as a boy: '. . . a field of earth and mud, of course'. He offers a shrewd tactical assessment of the importance of skills: 'If you face two players with the same physical condition, the one who has a better technique will win.' Sadly, Diego does not go into what happens when you face a goalkeeper several inches taller than yourself in a World Cup quarter-final. Perhaps he's saving that one up.

Almanack telephoned Messrs Heath, where Michael Thomas has charge of Diego's outpourings. Would it be outrageous to suspect that a ghost- writer was involved here? 'I think you could bet on that, yuh,' Mr Thomas conceded. And was he optimistic about unloading the thoughts of Diego? 'I'm starting to get some interest,' he revealed. 'I've talked to a couple of people in the last 24 hours.' Are we talking enormous sums of money here? 'I hope to be. I'm a pragmatic sort of fellow and I take what I can get. It's a piquant project.' At least we think he said 'piquant'. We didn't ask him to spell it.