The Long and Short of it

As the sports desk executives of the Sunday Herald prepare for another hectic and demanding shift today, will they be taking an extra-special look at the issue of the sports results listing?

Last Sunday, the newspaper carried a letter from an irate reader, Russell Dick, who was demanding to know what had happened to the sports results listings the previous week.

Wrote Mr Dick: “Last week there were no listing at all for the Senior Open Championship, the European or PGA Tours, or the Ladies and Challenge Tours. Nor were there any comprehensive listings of football friendly results.

“Yet there were plenty of minor cricket results and one third of a page on racing results. Golf and football are our major Scottish sports and I would assume that many readers like me will want to catch up on results and placings of favourite players and teams.”

Mr Dick ended with a barbed comment: “Maybe you can reduce Mr Bell by 50 per cent or more since he is so predictable in his obsessions.”

And by one of these strange co-incidences which so often happen in newspapers, the distinguished, award-winning Ian Bell was appearing in the pages of the same edition with an opinion piece that began:

“Among the idiots and anoraks who still care about Bob Dylan, an anecdote sometimes does the rounds.

“It’s 1996, or thereabouts, and the singer has just committed a semi-Burnsian song to tape. Highlands, he calls it. The tune runs – and runs – to almost 17 minutes. I could live with it. But then, on cue, comes the parodic fat, sweating, exploding, record company executive. In this tale, he’s almost out of breath. 'Just great, Bob,' he says. 'Great! Really great! So: do you have a shorter version of that?'

“Dylan: 'That was the shorter version.'”

At which point, he went on to write about the 90,000 documents or so that had formed the recent deluge of information about Afghanistan on the Wikileaks website.