Sometimes, the Mill finds, the opening line of a newspaper story is so wonderful it's just not worth reading any of the rest of it. It's only going to get worse, after all. No, just take the first sentence, enjoy it, read it out loud, let it swill around your mouth like a first-growth claret from a decent vintage. Savour it.
Take, for example, the front page of today's Daily Star. The first half-sentence is an absolute beauty. It's a work of genius. It's a 35-yard curler into the top corner of the journalistic net. What it says is: this is a brilliant story. It's a genuine, 100% real, true, honest-to-goodness exclusive of knee-trembling importance. It's going to change your world.
That first half-sentence is: "Top football stars were quaking in their boots last night."
What could it be, wondered The Mill? Wage capping? Evidence that repeatedly heading a ball could lead to blindness? Early forecasts suggesting unseasonably cold weather in Dubai this summer? The Mill was so excited, it put the paper to one side. Best, we thought, to read the rest of the papers, check our emails and do a spot of online grocery shopping before returning to the Star's sensational tale. Savour it, The Mill said to itself.
Luckily, there's chuff all going on in the world of football so that didn't take very long. Portsmouth, apparently, have resolved to "Av Grant if Sven says no" – which Sig Eriksson probably will, unless Mexico sack him. Comic James Corden has filmed a hilarious Comic Relief sketch with the England squad. Tony Adams was at a party celebrating the fifth birthday of his son Atticus, yes Atticus, when Portsmouth boss Peter Storrie phoned to tell him he'd been sacked. Djimi Traoré has joined Birmingham City on emergency loan (if they think they've got an emergency now, they're in for a shock when they actually play him in their defence), and Manchester City are hoping to convince former Arsenal winger Brian Marwood, 49, to sit on their board while youthful striking prodigy Daniel Sturridge wants £75,000 a week or he'll be off to Aston Villa.
Crikey, is that it? Well, let's look abroad – to Italy, where the Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Luiz Felipe Scolari really wanted to sign Adriano and spoke to him many times and lists several clubs who all want the Sweden Under-21 captain Mattias Bjarsmyr, headed by Juventus. Over in Spain, Marca has a feature on Phil Jagielka. Who'd have thought?
So, gingerly, The Mill picks up The Star. The Mill wonders precisely what the buxom beauty on the cover has to do with the shock news that has apparently gripped the game. And, swallowing hard, The Mill reads on. "Top football stars were quaking in their boots last night over a dynamite new book that exposes their most intimate sex secrets." The Mill has a sinking feeling. "Danielle Lloyd, who has dated a string on Premier League players, has logged every detail of their cheating, betting, boozing and bedroom antics."
Highlights of said tome apparently include the revelation that "Jermain Defoe liked to wear bras on his head". It's all enough to prompt a "soccer insider", possibly the figment of a journalist's imagination, to "add": "News of her book has sent shockwaves through the game."
Has it, though? Has it, really? The Mill feels dirty and cheap and regrets ever reading beyond the first line. The Mill wonders precisely how many footballers will read this book. Not Tony Adams, that's for sure. He's busy re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird in search of characters to name children after.