Time – immemorial, at that – was, the US was very, very good at tennis and the UK was very, very bad. When I was growing up, the US had McEnroe and Connors and Evert and it appropriated Lendl and Navratilova. And I had an Ivan Lendl adidas tennis shirt that I treasured like Aztec gold. And then the US had Agassi and Sampras and Serena and Venus. In the UK, meanwhile, we had Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie and rain and Sue Barker and Cliff Richard (together or not, depending on whether you want that image burned on your retinas forever).
And then we had Tim Henman and his fist pumping, Daily Mail-fuelled near-missery. About which… the less said.
Hugh Laurie is a chameleon: a long, funny-looking lizard with slightly protuberant eyes and extraordinary talents, beloved by all. Plus, he changes color depending on where you’re standing. If you’re in the UK, he looks looks like the Prince Regent or the bard of mystery, kicking ass, and dancersizing. In the US, he’s the curmudgeon who loved putting down colleagues even more than throwing back pills or solving medical mysteries. Decades after his Oxford and Cambridge days, Laurie’s now touring the American west coast with a blues band.
The inevitable question – who can lay claim to Hugh Laurie?
The Obama’s acquired a new pet this week – Sunny, a Portuguese water dog – to join the current first pet, Bo. Being a presidential pet means walks with the Secret Service, access to the Oval Office and playing with the first children.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Maria Sharapova wanted to change her name in time for the US Open, which starts on Monday. Miss Sugarpova, as it was said she would like to be known, wanted to do this in order to promote a line of sweets. (Sorry – candy. Actually, not sorry. Sweets. On this UK/USA translative issue I am unbudge-able as a concrete donkey.)
Anyway, this momentous news prompted a thought: which other athletes have changed their names for commercial reasons? This prompted some cursory research, which produced this rather cursory piece, which wants your help in suggesting the best such cases.
It is notoriously difficult to determine whether a panda is pregnant until after she’s given birth. The endangered animals – usually artificially inseminated after attempts to physically mate with a male partner inevitably fail – are prone to false pregnancies, during which the female gives off signs that she might be expecting, or might simply have a case of heartburn, or might simply have developed an interest in sprucing up her nest. Panda pregnancy watches are common the world over, as researchers wait with bated breath to confirm the arrival of a butterstick-sized wee one whose mere existence will drive up attendance at any zoo lucky enough to have one.
The US and UK are currently engaged in a panda-off, as scientists in both countries await a delivery from their possibly-pregnant giant pandas.
Eruption sends smoke three miles into the air and showers city with a layer of ash
A volcano has erupted in south-western Japan, coating a nearby city with a layer of ash.
People in Kagoshima city wore masks and raincoats and used umbrellas to shield themselves from the ash after the Sakurajima volcano erupted on Sunday afternoon. Drivers turned on their headlights, and local media described the ash as like driving through snow at night.