Rules for reading

    Britain Today
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Where would English football be without players whose names sound like mineral water? Überkinger, Perrier, Volvic, Apollinaris: I’m sure they all played for Chelsea last season. Managers are no different. The current manager of our team here in Southampton really is called Pellegrino. Are we talking about football or a drinks menu?

    I hope the word “current” is still accurate. Managers so often lose their jobs. A bottle of non-sparklingstill, nicht-spritzignon-sparkling mineral water usually has a label that says “still water”. What about the manager of a non-sparkling football team? He’s lucky if he’s still manager. 

    Life is no easier for managers in the US. The sport may be different, but American football is just as unforgivinggnadenlos, unerbittlichunforgiving. There’s even a day at the end of the season when clubs like to fire their managers. It’s called Black Monday. 

    British clubs are happy to fire their managers on any day of the week. But there is one event that the UK has taken over from the American calendar: Black Friday. This is the day at the end of November when there are even more special offers in the shops than usual. The idea is to generate a bit of Christmas shopping and to increase footfallhier: Kundenfrequenzfootfall in shopping centres — no, not “football” in shopping centres, but “footfall”: in other words, the number of customers who walk through the door.

    Actually, though, football does have ideas that shopping centres might find useful, such as showing the red card when shoppers get too enthusiastic. Sometimes, for example, when they’re running after bargainSchnäppchenbargains, they really do need to be sent off. Above all, bookshops need to adopt rules from football. The books they sell are all so long, and no two are the same length. How are you to be supposed to do sth.etw. tun sollensupposed to decide which one is the winner?

    Football matches all last about 90 minutes, so it’s always possible to compare like with like. If only literary prizes were as fair as that!

    The winner of last year’s Man Booker Prize, which is generally announced in October, was The Sellout by Paul Beatty. With more than 300 pages, it’s far too long to finish on a Saturday afternoon as an alternative to watching Arsenal play Manchester United.

    How about a maximum of 180 or — let’s be generousgroßzügiggenerous — even 200 pages, just to allow for injury timeNachspielzeitinjury time? Injury time on the pitch (UK)Spielfeldpitch, that is. One needs to be quite clear about this. Someone I know needed time away from work when she to drift offhinüberdämmerndrifted off to sleep and her Kindle fell on her face.

    Why stop there? With novelRomannovels reduced to an acceptable length, we could standardize stage plays, too. Ninety minutes seem perfectly reasonable for an evening at the theatre, plus another 15 minutes for the “interval” — which is the name the theatre world has given to half-time. We also need an offside ruleAbseitsregeloffside rule that stops actors from improvising and to drag sth. outetw. in die Länge ziehendragging things out. That way, the audience would have a chance of getting home in time for the “News at Ten”.

    True, the news these days is so grimtrostlos, düstergrim that you’re better off in the theatre. But at least you wouldn’t miss the bit that shows you highlights from the day’s football.

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