The Best and the Worst of The British Press

The Daily Telegraph today serves up a story that's a combination of sports, human interest and animal tale, in explaining defending Wimbledon champion Venus Williams' erratic performances of late.

Williams has a serious case of separation anxiety, it says — blaming the country's stringent quarantine laws for keeping the champ from her dog Bobby.

Bobby is stuck in Florida, and what's worse, Williams has heard he was behaving badly.

"If Bobby were here, he'd be a joy every day. He helps me warm up on the court. He's quite noisy and makes me feel good. He's a feel-good dog. I didn't even bring a picture of him," she told the Telegraph.

But Williams is not the only tennis star to have her idiosyncrasies, the paper pointed out.

Jelena Dokic wears the same top and skirt throughout the championship; Goran Ivanisevic eats at the same restaurant at the same time every day of the tournament, and Andre Agassi won't serve until he gets the ball boys and girls to move all the balls to one side of the court.

IRA: Irish Robbers of Art?

Arms caches may have been overtaken by art caches for the IRA, reports The Times.

It says Irish Republican Army fund raising is suspected as a possible motive for Tuesday's daring art robbery at Russborough House in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Three armed men wearing balaclavas hit the villa at lunchtime, grabbing Gainsborough's portrait of Madame Paccelli and Belotto's Scene of Florence.

The paintings are valued at more than $2 million. Previous raids on the villa are also thought to have been connected to the IRA.

Short but Sweet

In one of the more succinct stories of the day, The Mirror's online edition reports an ironic assault at a German brothel.

We can reprint the entire story here: "A brawl broke out after a punter visiting a brothel found his wife working there as a prostitute. Both were arrested in Cologne."

Couch Potatoes

A new report from the London School of Economics finds British youths prefer to watch television to reading, reports the Daily Mail.

The report, "Children And Their Changing Media Environment," blames the behavior on a lack of things to do in the areas where the youths live, and parental fears for child safety outside the home.

Around 65 percent of British children have television sets in their bedrooms — higher than the figure for European countries.

One of the report's authors also concludes that compared to other European children, British kids are making the greatest use of screen media.

British children were ahead of other European youngsters in relation to computer use in classrooms, the report said.