Football’s facial foliage

The World Cup has started, and some viewers of the first game featuring host nation Russia against Saudi Arabia were surprised to hear ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley praise Stalin’s facial hair. The great dictator, said Clive, had “a proper ‘tache”. What had this to do with the game? Was football commentary to become like cricket, where commentators while away the dull hours by talking about the weather and their sandwiches? Well, Clive’s point related to a campaign to get Russians to grow moustaches like that sported by the team’s national coach, Stanislav Cherchesov. [CORR] Not all armchair fans were fascinated by this nugget of information. “Gonna be a long month this,” tweeted one.

Putin the boot in

All Diary readers will be wishing England well in the World Cup (barrage of missiles assails your correspondent). But that doesn’t stop merry jests coming into play. Take this from John B Henderson: “I see the English football team went to a Russian orphanage on a goodwill visit. ‘It breaks my heart to see their sad little faces, without a shred of hope,’ said Oleg, aged six.”

Winter of discontent

Airdrie man David Kennedy is reading Fifty Years of Hurt, Henry Winter’s account of the England team’s underachievement at major tournaments since the 1970s. Says David: “No doubt libraries are ordering copies of this fine tome. While those south of the Border are likely to catalogue it in the Horror section, borrowers in Scotland will find it on the shelf marked Humour.”

In vino verbiage

Reader Russell Smith couldn’t resist trying a bottle of wine that featured the following gushing prose on the label: “Stars and planets rush past as we travel through space and time to another world – our ‘otra tierra’. Ours is a journey of discovery, an exploration of interplanetary dimensions. Can we open a portal to the past or find a shortcut to the future? How far can our imagination take us?” Russell’s verdict after downing the bottle? “It was OK.”

Lost art of foundry

Anent telling people what your job is, Ian Young writes: “I’ve always been proud of the fact that I’m a fifth generation foundryman – a craft that’s all but disappeared in Scotland. When asked what he does for a living, my son Andrew – the sixth generation – tells people he’s a gardener. Reason? Nobody knows what a foundry is nowadays, but everyone knows what a gardener is and it saves a 20-minute explanation!” Fair enough. What’s a gardener again?

Who ate all the pies?

Our West End correspondent, Deedee Cuddihy, reports that Glasgow’s Òran Mór arts venue was struggling to meet demand for pies last week at the latest in its “a play, a pie and a pint” lunchtime series. What was putting bums on seats and pies in gubs? None other than Melania, a mini-musical about President Trump’s missus. Poor lassie never looks happy. Probably because Donald’s White House is just like Òran Mór: got to get in quick before the pies are gone.

Take note

With the current dire state of pop, young persons are reportedly turning to classical music. Alas, they won’t find this apparently civilised world any less endowed with fragile egos and flaky bigmouths. Remember the old joke. “What’s the difference between a conductor and God? God doesn’t think he’s a conductor.”