WHAT a gloomy week! There's nothing but carnage in the countryside and Stock Market crashes in the City. War breaks out in the Balkans and teachers go on strike in Britain.

Plus Alan Shearer's out for the rest of the season.

And it's been cold and damp for days as we near the end of what, officially, has been the wettest, most miserable, 12 months since weather records began in 1766.

How we need a Swede to lift England's gloom - a comprehensive win over Finland today in Sven-Goran Eriksson's first competitive game in charge of our football team would certainly raise the spirits.

Beyond that, in our search for light-heartedness, all we could come up with was the good news that Mir had completed a "textbook" landing in the Pacific. After all the space-station's troubles, its final journey was practically perfect - and it even provided a spectacular fireworks display which lit up the world for those who saw it.

It put us in better spirits as we moved onto the next story, the one about the new urinals at Chessington World of Adventures. There's a picture of a bluebottle on them for men to aim at, and research in Holland shows that if they hit it, splashback is reduced by 80 per cent.

We almost raised a chuckle as we remembered an old Victorian joke. The Victorians tried the same trick, only the image they used on their toilets was a bee. This tickled their educated sense of humour - the Latin for bee is apis.

But then we plunged back into deep despair and despond. Isn't it sad that the Russians - the poor, battered, broken Russians - can, after 80,000 orbits round the Earth and a journey of more than two billion miles, drop Mir into the ocean without a splash out of place, but the male of the species can't even go about his business from just six inches (that's 14.4cms) without drowning out the entire bathroom?