Having met a lady who believes that Cliff Richard's emetic Christmas hit is as poignant as Pavarotti's Ave Maria, I am reminded, as daily we all are I suppose, that there is no accounting for taste. I am disappointed, for example, that David Hume edged out Rab C Nesbitt in a poll of luminaries as to who was Scot of the millennium, preferring, as I normally do, men of action to those who spend a lifetime contemplating imponderables such as 'How long is a piece of string?' Rab lends practicality to this philosophical conundrum by actually wearing pieces of string, which we might politely call a vest.

And currently the Belgian people around Charleroi might now believe that hosting hordes of English and German supporters in June could only appeal to those for a taste in the macabre and see it as a perfect test of NATO's newly proposed rapid reaction force. Others might regard it, naively, as simply a football match. So accepting the variations in taste is sometimes damned trying. Take two matters of taste. Take, firstly, UEFA's decision to award a European final to Hampden Park. Well done for hallowed acres you might say. Others, notably, would not.

Fergus, are you spluttering over your coffee and croissant wherever you are this morning? You who were, and probably still are, the nemesis of Hampden might just regard this as like being hit in the face by a custard pie. And Fergus, although you might not believe it, I have a certain amount of sympathy for you, if your views on the stadium have not changed.

The little man who thought Hampden Park's development an entire waste of finances was of course not alone in his views and, like many others, will realise that this political decision by friends at UEFA's court is the equivalent of a parachute drop of food into a beleaguered garrison in the hope that they can hold out before the relief column arrives. But it does something else.

The entrepreneurship which Fergus McCann and David Murray, and others at Ibrox before him, displayed on the basic commercial imperative of making their stadiums viable, profitable and acceptable throughout Europe as final venues has, effectively, been undermined by what I can only take to be an example of political bad taste. Compare what the Old Firm have done in the last decade with the shambles that purports to be the financing of Hampden and ask yourself who deserves the accolade of a European final?

Hampden is simply not to everybody's taste. Ibrox and Celtic Park command greater admiration from people who really know their football, and it is a pity they have been out-manoeuvred politically as contenders.

Which brings me to the other matter of taste, the millennium thing and sport. ''Who is the sports personality of the millennium,'' the BBC asked last night of a field qualified largely by how much of them could be shown on tape.

And to pull an audience they are still trying to make something heroic of Mohammed Ali in their television orientated evidence, but it makes one wonder if at the end of the next millennium a more enlightened civilisation will look back on the tapes as proof of a barbaric age and of Ali as a victim and not an icon.

The noble art has effectively capitulated at the highest level to such obvious commercial manipulation by the likes of Don King that you wonder about the gullibility of those who stump up so much to be taken in. Donald Trump, who hosts bouts in the States, said, after watching a young boxer die in the ring a couple of weeks ago, that boxing sells out. Sure it does. That special taste for blood is well enough established. But packed houses do not a moral endorsement make.

So, there is no doubt in my mind who should have been chosen for the Millennium Personality on the basis of towering athletic prowess. Paavo Nurmi, the Flying Finn. He ran to such effect he won nine Olympic Golds between 1920-28 and held world records concurrently in the mile, the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, which no-one has ever emulated. With the stopwatch always in his hand, he elevated athletics to a new plane of intelligent application of effort and was the harbinger of the modern scientifically prepared athlete. But in his disavowal of drinking coffee because he felt it was a stimulant and in his utter devotion to winning for his small country, he remains an icon of a purer age.

It is a pity he pre-dates outside broadcasts for had television been around at his peak, there would have been no other contenders for last night's award. He would have been to everybody's taste.