And now for a break
Update: OK, that didn't happen. Ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? The portents aren't good for England's chances tonight, really.
Anyone who has been jilted will know that love can hurt. Now scientists have established just how much. According to their research, a broken heart may be as painful as a broken leg...And suffering a snub from friends or being stood up on a date may produce a similar feeling of distress to when you stub your toe.Of course, the research that supposedly 'proved' this, wasn't quite the heartless testing you might imagine - they didn't circle towns looking for the newly-dumped, then leap on them, break a bone or two and start asking 'which hurts more?'
Among the scribbled tangle
of the branches of that garden tree
only about two hundred
lime-coloured leaves still shudder
but the hunting cat
perched in the middle of the scribble
believes he's invisible
to the few sparrows visiting
the tips of the tree
like a giant soldier
standing in a grey street at noon
wearing a bright ginger uniform
hung with guns
hung with grenades
who holds a sprig of heather up
as he shouts to the houses:
Come out! It's all right,
I'm only a hillside!
If you never spend your money
you know you'll always have some cash.
If you stay cool and never burn
you'll never turn to ash.
If you lick the boots that kick you
then you'll never feel the lash
and if you crawl along the ground
at least you'll never crash.
So why why why -
WHAT MADE YOU THINK YOU COULD FLY?
Look at those naked words dancing together!Update: Green Fairy joins in, and also reminds me of my crimes against Betjeman. Let's just say I'm doing this as community service for punishment.
Everyone's very embarrassed
Only one thing to do about it -
Off with your clothes
And join in the dance.
Naked words and people dancing together.
There's going to be trouble.
Here comes the Poetry Police!
If you think that you can prove that Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has an alcohol problem, you should say so and risk being sued. If you canít prove it, you should shut up about the subject. But either way, please spare us the current round of innuendo, jokes and photographs of the man with a glass in his hand. Itís childish, itís dishonest and itís unfair to your readers (like me) who end up without a clue as to whether this is a piece of common knowledge within Westminster thatís being hushed up, or just a piece of fairly childish and malicious injokery. Youíre the bloody British press, not popbitch.
Let's get one thing straight before we go on: Ferdinand failed to take a routine drug test administered by UK Sport one day last month. End of story.The whole thing's worth a read, as is Holt's column most weeks.
So he took it 36 hours later and it was clear. So what? It is an insult to the intelligence to pretend that this makes everything all right. That's the whole point about a drugs test. You do it on the spot, before you've had the opportunity to flush offending substances out of your system. You do it when they want you to do it, not when you want to do it.
Of course we all want to presume Rio is innocent because no one would wish this on him. Of course we understand the agonies his United team- mates are going through because of his ordeal.
But what would you say if a Chinese swimmer drove off at high speed one day when the testers came calling? Would you presume her innocence, would you say she was obviously preoccupied about doing the laundry, or would you think she had something to hide?
Would you think that if the drugs testers dropped in on Paula Radcliffe she'd tell them she's just nipping out to Tesco, then she and the hubby are going to the movies and would it be okay if they do the drug thing tomorrow?
Mathare Valley spreads north from Kenya's capital, a running sore of poverty covered in corrugated iron, where street children use machetes and guns to survive in an environment of murder, rape, TB and cholera. Mathare - a shanty town housing 600,000 of the world's poorest people - and other Nairobi slums account for 80 per cent of Kenya's Aids victims, 700 of whom die every day.
Only two in 10 adults have legitimate employment. There is little formal education for the youth, and alcoholism, fuelled by the illicit stills that turn out fiery chang'aa, is rife.
But MYSA resolved 16 years ago to fight the tide of deprivation. It was then that a Canadian United Nations official, Bob Munro, saw local kids having a kickabout with a jwala, a polythene-bag-and-twine football. He offered to referee if they helped clean the area of litter, setting in motion an unstoppable process of mutual cooperation.
From this 'pay-it-back' approach sprung leagues for 14,000 children. In return for the facilities and organisation, the players keep their neighbourhood clean, plant trees and attend Aids, pregnancy and drug-awareness classes.
There are scholarships, too, for photography, music and drama. Teams get points for their work as well as their football.
My colleague Tom Templeton has been there. He reports: 'It's an awesome sight as, on pitches of hard, red mud dotted around the slum borrowed from the police and churches [MYSA own only one], hundreds of kids watch intense 11-a-side matches of barefoot kids, awaiting their turn.'
Munro stresses that this is not 'a white man in Africa story'. He points out that the 63 staff who run the scheme are all former or current slum-dwellers who played in the leagues.
'So far,' says Peter Serry, the director of MYSA, 'the scheme has made life more bearable and broken down many of the tribal, territorial and prejudicial barriers of life in Kenya.'
MYSA's youth teams have won several international tournaments, and this season the under-16s beat Ajax Amsterdam twice in Norway. 'They were tougher than us, and stronger,' says the captain Nelson Ngari, 'but we were more determined.'