Diary

Share
The poet in football boots

Poets and novelists increasingly feel it incumbent upon them to talk about soccer when they're not writing about it, so it's only fair that those involved in soccer should start to see themselves as men of letters. I see that Paul Gascoigne will be signing copies of his authorised biography, Gazza, at Dillons on Thursday in what Dillons breathlessly announces is his "first ever book signing". It's quite easy, Paul. Hold the pen, don't kick it, and smile at the recipient. Avoid head-butting.

Anyway, it should be a snip for the boy. I see he has joined Jimmy Hill, whose versifying was reported in this column last week, in committing his thoughts on the great game, life and employer-employee relations to verse in a new book Over The Moon in aid of the British Sports Association for the Disabled.

Gazza's effort starts:

"Now Mel and Len both work for me

both working day and night

one's an accountant, one's a lawyer

making sure I'm all right."

Don't give up the day job just yet. Neither should John Motson - at least not for poetry. He offers a limerick, which comes as close to scanning as Hoddle came to staying at Chelsea:

"There was a young player named

Sleeper

Whose dream was to be a goalkeeper

He jumped up so high

That his head hit the sky

And next he met the Grim Reaper."

But these poets are temperamental types, sometimes wilting under the passions and anxieties that rage in their breasts. This was evident yesterday on Sky Sport when studio guest Gazza was asked whose shoes of the relegation candidates he would prefer to be in. "None of them," the versifier replied. "I'd rather be here in the studio than any of them bastards." Roll on the cricket season.

Bookish bookies

The ever-increasing links between literature and sport had me perusing the betting odds for the pounds 25,000 NCR book prize, Britain's major award for non-fiction, as I sauntered through Ladbrokes and William Hill over the weekend. I applaud the bringing together of bookies and book prizes, and hope we will soon see John McCrirrick of Channel 4 Racing livening up the interminable prize ceremonies by signalling the tic tac odds at the dinners - 10-1 on newly capped teeth for Martin Amis etc.

But while both betting shops seemed to agree completely on horseracing, football and snooker odds, they were poles apart at the weekend on the literary form. Ladbrokes has Simon Schama's Landscape And Memory as 6- 4 favourite, while William Hill makes it the 5-1 outsider of four. Hills makes Eric Lomax's The Railway Man hot favourite at 5-4, though it's little fancied third of four at 5-2 with Ladbrokes.

What's been going on? Alas, the odds setters have made the cardinal error of becoming too involved with the sport to make a clear-headed judgement. As Paul Austin of Ladbrokes says: "It took me longer than usual to set the odds because I found myself rather absorbed in the books."

Fun on the viola

The viola player has long been the butt of jokes by other members of the string section if not the whole orchestra, for reasons best known to musicians. Specialist classical music journals used to run regular viola jokes. And I see that there is now even a viola jokes page on the Internet. It contains such Wildean moments as "Why did the viola player marry the accordionist? Upward mobility." "What is the range of a viola? As far as you can kick it." How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune? The bow is moving." What is worrying for viola players is that the Internet site has been visited by over 15,000 people. What exactly have they done to make so many enemies? I seek enlightenment, preferably accompanied by a few more jokes.

Cheating art

Bleary-eyed MPs waiting for the early morning bus to or from the Commons might suffer a few palpitations on seeing the new poster campaign. They can relax... I think. In menacing print, it warns: "We're picking out the cheats in Westminster." If they rub their eyes, they will see that it's an ad from Westminster City Council, cracking down on benefit fraud.

Eagle Eye

They have it. Do you?

There is nothing harder to define, I learn from the new Harpers and Queen, than allure. "More than beauty, more than charm, more than sex appeal, it is subtle, mysterious - and inescapable." An elusive quality indeed. So when the magazine sat down to compile its list of the 50 most alluring women in the world, I suppose you could reasonably expect a surprise or two. A quick skim of the chosen at the top of the list seems fair enough - Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Michelle Pfeiffer and Catherine Deneuve all make the top 10. But Nigella Lawson, "any of the Mitford sisters", and Ginny Elliot, that little-known horsey ex-horsewoman? What is going on? Sir Philip Dowson, president of the Royal Academy and one of the selection panel, provides a clue. "Allure is about danger, sharp intelligence. One would not necessarily want to live with such a person." Which must explain why Ruby Wax (above right) and Benazir Bhutto are apparently more alluring than Marilyn Monroe (above left)- who just scrapes in at number 50.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
The first lesson of today is... don't treat women unequally?  

Yvette Cooper is right: The classroom is the best place to start teaching men about feminism

Chris Maume
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice