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Ode to football

When FErret was but a kit, his vocabulary was expanded by trips to the football terraces with FErret senior. But most of the expansion, it has to be admitted, was in the category of words with four letters.

So it is with some trepidation that one notes the latest initiative by the Learning and Skills Council to encourage literacy by holding a contest for writing football chants.

Liverpool and England star John Barnes will be judging, which bodes well, since he managed to tortuously rhyme his surname with "bananas" in the Anfield Rap.

"People don't often reflect on how clever football chants really are, and how much they mean to players," he said.

"Personally I love a funny chant, so humour - as long as it's clean! - is going to be a big winner for me."

Sadly, competitors are unlikely to be "big winners", but you could get a Pounds 100 book token and tickets to see Barnsley vs Doncaster perhaps.

Fireworks fizzle out

Threatened fireworks within the University and College Union may turn out to be a damp squib.

A former college lecturer and union trustee, Fawzi Ibrahim, served a defamation claim on Sally Hunt, the general secretary, after a row over talks on boycotting Israel, a dispute which threatens to be as bitter as the Palestine question.

The argument hinged on whether the trustees, who can be held personally liable if the union is sued for breaching its own rules, were entitled to legal advice.

Mr Ibrahim refused to sign off any union documents until he was satisfied regarding the situation with legal advice.

A letter was sent to Mr Ibrahim and senior UCU officials from Ms Hunt accusing him of "acting against the interests of the union". Mr Ibrahim took this as a grave insult.

Unfortunately for Mr Ibahim, his claim is unlikely to proceed since he made it through the county court which has no jurisdiction on libel actions, unless parties have agreed otherwise in writing. So, for now at least, it looks as though we will be spared any courtroom drama.

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