Smile review – Dundee United’s ‘football pervert’ brought to hilarious grimacing life

Dundee Rep
Title-winning coach Jim McLean is played with raging mastery by Barrie Hunter in a two-hander that pulls some punches

He was the manager described by one player as a “football pervert”. An obsessive with a ruthless drive to win, Jim McLean was a master of the pitch. He turned Dundee United from a team of no-hopers at risk of relegation into a powerhouse squad that could take on Europe’s finest. But in terms of interpersonal skills, he was lacking. The title of Philip Differ’s play is ironic: it could well be called Grimace.

All of which makes McLean a tricky subject for dramatisation. As presented here in this funny two-hander, he is a man not given to reflection. When pressed, he’ll label himself a bad father and an unempathetic coach, but his devotion to the game overrides any guilt. “Je ne regrette fuck all,” he says.

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Labour MPs warn government over Windrush review

Concern after report of phrase ‘institutionally racist’ being removed from draft report

Politicians have warned the government not to water down a review into the Windrush scandal after claims that a section of a pending report that branded the Home Office “institutionally racist” was removed.

The Times newspaper reported sources saying the phrase “institutionally racist” was included in an earlier draft of the Windrush review, led by Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams, but had subsequently been deleted.

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‘It’s post-apocalyptic’: how coronavirus has altered day-to-day life

From Wuhan to the north of England, people have been affected by the outbreak in different ways

The coronavirus is a public health emergency, but its threat is not only medical. Millions of lives have been altered by the outbreak, from those in self-isolation in China to Chinese nationals experiencing racism abroad. We talk to those affected in different ways, from Wuhan to the north of England.

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School bus stunt urges Prince Andrew to talk to FBI about Jeffrey Epstein

US lawyer Gloria Allred arranged for bus to be driven past Buckingham Palace with message for prince

An American-style school bus has driven past Buckingham Palace with a message on the side appealing for Prince Andrew to answer questions from the FBI about his links to the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The stunt was arranged by the US lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents some of Epstein’s victims.

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Irish drug dealer loses £46m bitcoin codes he hid in fishing rod case

Clifton Collins fears fishing gear was taken to dump by his landlord after he was jailed

In early 2017 Clifton Collins, an Irish drug dealer, had a dilemma: where to hide the codes of his illicit €55m (£46m) bitcoin fortune.

His solution was to print them onto an A4 piece of paper and stash it in the aluminium cap of a fishing rod case kept at his rented home in Farnaught, Cornamona, county Galway.

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India asks Oxford museum to return ‘stolen’ bronze statue

Ashmolean receives request for restitution of 15th-century idol of Saint Tirumankai Alvar

The Indian government has asked the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to return a 15th-century bronze idol that was apparently stolen from a temple in the 1960s.

The Indian high commission in London said a formal request for restitution of the statue of Saint Tirumankai Alvar was made last Friday.

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Manchester bomber’s flat had funny smell, court told

Man who sub-let his council flat to Aimen Elwafi tells the trial of bomber’s brother that it was left in a bad state

A Libyan man who illegally sub-let his council flat to the Manchester Arena bomber said there was a “funny, strong smell” in his home when he returned to the 12th-floor property the month before the atrocity, a court has heard.

Aimen Elwafi said he was “so angry” at the state his flat had been left in, with Salman Abedi departing two weeks before the end of the agreed two-month period, that he intended to call the man and complain.

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Environmental and animal rights activists being referred to Prevent programme

Types of ‘concerns’ identified include far-left and anti-Isis extremism, FoI request reveals

Environmental and animal rights activists have been referred to the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation programme, the Home Office has admitted.

Responding to a freedom of information request, the Home Office provided a breakdown of reasons behind referrals of individuals who received specialist support for “other types of radicalisation” via its Channel programme, an arm of Prevent.

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Pompeo: US has reached ‘understanding’ with Taliban over violence in Afghanistan

A seven-day ‘reduction of violence’ deal promised by the Taliban will begin on Friday night, leading to signing of a peace agreement

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said on Friday that the US had “come to an understanding with the Taliban” over violence reduction in Afghanistan as officials said an agreement would be signed at the end of the month.

A seven-day “reduction of violence” deal promised by the Taliban will begin on Friday night, a senior US state department official said, without specifying the exact time.

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‘We have nothing left’: displaced Syrians wait out war in Idlib

With the closed Turkish border behind them and Russian-backed forces at the horizon, Syrians have nowhere left to run

Hemmed against a border wall in Somme-like mud and misery, more than 1 million Syrians are awaiting their fate. Nearby, Iranian-backed militias and what remains of the national army are advancing towards them, as Russian jets pick them off in the crowded fields and ruined towns that are all that is left of opposition-held Syria.

Convoys of the Turkish military, a protector of the displaced that have made it to the province over the last eight years, pass regularly along roads teeming with clapped out cars full of families and remnants of their belongings. Women and children beg them to stop, but they continue on to battlefronts miles from the panic and confusion, their attention diverted from helping the destitute to shaping the final months of the war in Ankara’s interests. Aid workers, who say things have never been worse in Syria, do what they can among scenes they describe as overwhelming and impossible.

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Belgian carnival to go ahead despite row over ‘hateful’ antisemitism

Organisers in Aalst say they will defy calls from Israel’s government to cancel event

Organisers of a Belgian carnival, removed from a Unesco heritage list last year following criticism of its antisemitic floats, have said they will defy calls from Israel’s government for Sunday’s event to be cancelled.

Belgium’s prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, also described the parade as an “internal affair” after Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, called for the authorities to “condemn and ban this hateful parade in Aalst”.

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Weirdos, misfits and why I had to check my dog’s horoscope

In the week of Sabisky, most Tories saw no problem. Neither did Herbert Hound

Monday

Dominic Cummings’s programme to recruit more “weirdos” and “misfits” into No 10 got off to a cracking start with the appointment of “Mystic” Andrew Sabisky, the self-styled superforecaster. Just weeks after Sabisky started work, several newspapers did a cursory trawl of his social media posts and discovered that he had a tendresse for racial eugenics and enforced contraception for working-class teenage girls.

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Smaller than expected January surplus will be blow to new chancellor

Worsening of public finances comes as Rishi Sunak prepares to unveil budget next month

Britain’s public finances recorded a smaller than expected surplus in January in a blow to the new chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who is expected to announce a substantial rise in government spending in next month’s budget.

In the latest sign of a worsening in government finances as the UK economy falters, the Office for National Statistics said tax revenue outstripped spending by about £9.8bn last month, approximately £2.1bn less than in the same month a year ago. City economists had forecasted a £11.3bn surplus.

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Redefining the ‘strong man’: Tyson Fury praised for openness on mental health

Boxer was taunted about depression by Deontay Wilder in run-up to heavyweight title fight

Tyson Fury’s struggle with his mental health was ridiculed by his opponent in the run-up to the most anticipated heavyweight title fight in decades. “Don’t you ever forget that when I found you, you were strung out on coke. You were like a big house, contemplating killing yourself,” Deontay Wilder said after an intense five-minute stare-down.

But for other boxers and mental health experts, Fury’s candid honesty about his struggle with depression and his journey back in the ring is something to be celebrated.

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