A SAD London soccer fan looked at me and asked for an explanation I could not give. He wondered why Rugy Union football which so often produces such mayhem, such violence without frills on the pitch, does not have any spill-over effect on the spectators.
Soccer, he felt, was a milder sport; yet one elbow in the ribs, one shin-cracker, could have thugs streaming over barriers like something from a First World War newsreel.
I wonder if he had somehow put his finger on it when he said: . "Another thing. These rugby geezers never argue with the referee. They take everything from him and shuffle back to position like lambs."
Is there something in the fact that, while tempers may have broken down, authority remains.
He had been watching the France/Wales rugby international on television, which I'm told was a bloody affair.
I missed that one because I was at Lansdowne Road, where Ireland almost obliterated England with only one thump, so far as I could see, delivered in anger.
Not great rugby, was the opinion around me from exwarriors and watchers of many years' standing. A fig for their finesse. Any game that keeps people hurling themselves out ot their seats like boosted rockets every few minutes is good enough for me.
Incidentally, it was a sporting day that ended with another display of Welsh violence when we watched Colin Jones in Reno, Nevada, crunch his way to a split decision for the world welterweight title. It was, I suppose a just reward for courage and stamina and the aggression so treasured by American prizefight fans; but it was a cruel decision for the defending champion, a boxer of great style and guile.
WHAT a popular little Cockney dynamo is the new world flyweight boxing champion Charlie Magri and what a warm, loyal, adoring family surrounds him four brothers, two sisters and a cheering line of in-laws from here to Bethnal Green.
But his parents are the eyecatchers. Handsome, romantic
looking dad, son of a Maltese father, born in France, he worked as a taxi-driver in Tunis before coming to London's East End, where his first language still is French.
Rose, his wife, round and lovely, is the epitome of the oldfashioned • Catholic mother. When Charlie was fighting for the title what did she do? lit a candle for him in her local church. Then I discovered she'd lit a second candle. Why?
"For the other fella. I wouldn't want him to get hurt!"
BREAKFAST television is having a tough time in Britain on the commercial channel, despite the high-powered promotion or possibly because of that sent it in to battle with the BBC over the nation's cereal bowls.
Remember all their fuss about their weather man and how proud David Frost looked when he told us he had a real live pukka naval commander to sort out the highs from the lows.
Francis Wilson had already left av to do the self-same thing for BBC breakfasters. Next shot to be fired, meteorologically speaking, brought down BBC Televisions' senior weather man Jack Scott and he fell into the arms of Thames Television. All of which pales into nothing if you've
heard Radio Eireann's announcer solemnly and confidently say: "And now over to Our Lady at the Met Office!"
.1 DON'T know why it should be so, but, since it began, ITN has been able to crack jokes without that self-conscious infra-dig BBC ... shiftiness. Ironical, in a way, to realise it dates back to the advent of those feisty young newcasters Chris Chataway and Robin Day, now almost invisible if you stand them in front of a background of Westminster pillars draped with bankers' drafts.
All brought to mind by the
young ITN announcer introducing a report on the problem of the whisky industry, balancing reduced imbibing at home with increased sales abroad. Not, therefore, he hoped, a case of Scotch on the rocks. IT'S a short walk, as the jay flies. front the River Thames to a certain walnut treL in a Chiswick courtyard. Alas, I have news for the jays. It may not be there next time they fluttel down to pick and crack a walnut. The workmen have listened to the trunk and found it wanting. Whatever hollow echo they heard on their arborial stethoscope brought them back with saw and axe.
The tree is disappearing section by section. One woman begged a piece of trunk to grow something inside it. What, I wonder'? A walnut within a walnut? Future generations of jays, do not despair. Better still, I see they have stopped short. Maybe this particular workman has spared that tree and springpropelled summer will do the rest.