Any idea that hardline Republicans lack a sense of humour was kicked into touch last week in an article in Mississippi's The Clarion-Ledger by the columnist Ann Coulter headlined: "Any growing interest in soccer is a sign of nation's moral decay."
Coulter – the author of books with titles such as If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans and How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) – has previous for provocation, but this time she has gone the full Katie Hopkins.
Gems in her ugly take on the beautiful game include: "soccer [is] a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys", "it's foreign" and that "the same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding we love HBO's Girls, Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton". And just in case the true nature of Coulter's thinking were not clear enough, she begins by stating that "no American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer".
Coulter's hackles were raised by the news that 24.7 million people in America watched the team's recent match with Portugal. (The average NFL game is watched by 21 million.) Brilliant. Another nail in the coffin of that "special relationship"? Let's call the whole thing off(side).
How to shed hair
Gigs in museums, watching films from hot tubs, restaurants in prisons and a gym that doubles as a library … these days it's not just buying a home that is all about location. Enter the latest bonkers and brilliant business idea from the "fancy that" file, a beauty salon in London's Notting Hill called Privet, where all the treatment rooms are wooden sheds.
It is the brainchild of Andy Penniceard, who, in 2002, read an article about male grooming and, as someone who would routinely go to spas for a treatment, wondered why the whole process had to be so clinical.
Privet's reimagining of the beauty industry includes calling practitioners "expert gardeners" and a pair of mannequins in the window named Anita Bush and Manuel Kept. "I wanted to create something gender neutral so came up with the idea of a salon in which men and women would feel equally comfortable: thus the Log Cabin, the Tool Shed and the Writer's Hut," says Penniceard.
And while some of Privet's female customers may be surprised to see a former builder behind the reception desk, Penniceard is quick to point out that he is "neat and tidy" in the area his former workmates so love to expose. TMI?
See privetwaxbars.co.uk for more
"Some people would buy Ferraris. Some people would buy houses. I bought old bits of metal and old bits of paper." So said Phil Collins, the actor/singer/drummer as he handed over his comprehensive collection of Alamo-based historical items to the state of Texas last Thursday.
It was a strange week for the former Genesis frontman. It began with a Facebook page declaring him dead, continued with (false) rumours of a Genesis reunion and ended with him standing in front of the Alamo explaining why he had spent nearly 20 years being a "magnet" for items connected with the Texas revolution only to give them all away.
Collins did, though, finally dispel the idea (consistently used as a sign that he is "one drumstick short of a pair" by the Daily Mail) that he believes himself to be the reincarnation of an Alamo courier called John W Smith. "A clairvoyant I met once said that I was he," he told the crowd. "But I don't buy it."
The cover story
Last week, Chain (Combined Homeless and Information Network) published a report which revealed that 6,437 people had slept rough in the capital at some point over the past year. Earlier this month, a Twitter-inspired outrage led to spikes being removed from a doorway in the borough of Southwark. All over the UK, iron "armrests" are routinely placed on wooden benches to discourage anyone from the idea that they might spend the night there.
One Vancouver-based ad agency takes a different approach. Spring Advertising undertakes both commercial work and what it calls Saks (strange acts of kindness). As part of the latter, it has installed benches around Vancouver that double as shelters and feature a number for the local charity Rain City when the roof is raised. "Spikes in doorways are a manifestation of the Nimby [not in my backyard] behaviour that proliferates around this issue," the agency's Rob Schlyecher says. Quite.
No rhyme or reason
Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:
They get out there and give it some welly
Spend all day in the field getting smelly
They're the Glastonbury set
They don't mind getting wet
While the rest of us watch on the telly.