TUNING in for the BBC’s Ten O’ Clock news I caught the last few minutes of Mrs Brown’s Boys. Don’t tell me you like it.

It’s a mirror to our coarsening as a people. And I suppose we’re all infected. As the once-taboo F word spilled from the foul-mouthed matriarch’s lips seemingly in every other sentence, I was almost (but not quite) provoked to respond in kind and shout back at her: “Shut the f*** up.”

The Northern Echo: EMBRACE: Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell (right) wins the Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase ahead of Pleasant Company ridden by jockey David Mullins  Picture: DAVID DAVIES/PA

EMBRACE: Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell (right) wins the Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase ahead of Pleasant Company ridden by jockey David Mullins  Picture: DAVID DAVIES/PA

A NEWSPAPER report of last Saturday’s Grand National began: “As Davy Russell steered home the diminutive Tiger Roll to victory by a head, high in Aintree’s Princess Royal stand came the familiar confetti shower of ripped up betting slips from the disappointed punters who had backed other horses.”

Perhaps before next year’s National the Princess Royal will see fit to signal her strong disapproval of racegoers littering ‘her’ stand, or any part of the racecourse, with discarded betting slips, torn up or still intact. Sport venues after any major event are always awash with litter. Why? No doubt few of Aintree’s “disappointed punters” would regard themselves as litter louts but they are. Anyone really offended by litter never drops it anywhere – ever.

Apart from the safe return of every horse and rider, the happiest feature of the National was the embrace shared by winning jockey Davy Russell and runner-up Davis Mullins. This was racing’s Freddie Flintoff/Brett Lee moment – the imperishable occasion when the England cricket star comforted his Australian opponent when England snatched a two-run victory, the closest ever in an Ashes Test, at Edgbaston in 2005.

Sport could do with more such moments. Or perhaps not, since if they were commonplace they would be meaningless. Let’s just say that the spirit behind such gestures should be ever-present in all sport. After all that what it is – sport, not war.

The Northern Echo:

Daniel Day Lewis, son of Cecil Day Lewis. Picture: PA

IT was disappointing, if understandable, to see the former Poet Laureate Cecil Day Lewis, who composed a poem on the birth of the Teesside County Borough, defined recently in these pages as “father of the Oscar-winning actor Daniel”. In the 1930s Day Lewis was ranked as a major poet alongside W.H. Auden, but his star has fallen.

Unjustly. I’ve more than once quoted here from his poem Will It Be So Again. “The jungle code and the hypocrite gesture?/ A poppy wreath for the slain/ And a cut throat world for the living? That stale imposture/ Played on us once again…/ peace, with no heart or mind to ensue it, /guttering down to war like a libertine to his grave.” Uncomfortably close to today, you’ll agree.

A Day Lewis poem Walking Away, picturing a child (who was Daniel) attaining independence, is a funeral favourite. He has no lack of original thoughts: “What is the marriage of two? The loss of one by wounds or abdication.”

A nicely-poetic phrase appropriate at the moment is: “The lapwings reel and twist.” That’s from a poem Two Travellers, contrasting a businessman on a train, poring over his papers, with a fellow passenger watching the passing scene. Which one, ponders Day Lewis, gains the most from his journey. Today, of course, virtually every passenger would be absorbed with a smart phone.