Sinking

Big Ben, London's iconic clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, and Fabio Capello, coach of the English national soccer team, have something disastrous in common. They are both sinking.


One side of Big Ben is literally subsiding into the River Thames. It is now 18 inches out of alignment. Fabio's fortunes were on the slide ever since our national soccer bosses hired him four years ago. He was so far out of alignment he should have fallen over. So on Wednesday night, he walked out of the job - partly because he objected to the demotion of his team captain who is facing charges of racial abuse - and partly because Capello himself didn't seem to have been as good a coach as we hoped he would be. I suppose you'd say it serves us right for hiring an Italian who couldn't speak that much English.

But what about poor old Big Ben, I hear you cry? That's even more English than English soccer, and a heck of a lot older. There's been a Parliament building on the site since the 11th century. But the place is cracking up fast - not helped by a new London subway they've dug right underneath it. The price of putting Parliament back into order and straightening up the world's most famous clock is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. Ouch. We haven't got the dosh.

Now, finding a replacement for Fabio Capello should come a whole lot cheaper, although not much considering he was paid around 9 and a half million dollars a year. We might even get someone who speaks our language this time - though soccer coaches, even home grown ones, are not renowned for their oratory and diction.

However Big Ben may have to be sold - along with the Parliament building itself. It is after all on a prime site, right in the centre of town with lovely river views. Chinese property developers would snap it up. So would the Russians. The sale could raise up to a billion dollars. Which ought to be enough to buy a few new soccer coaches and send them off for English lessons.  This is Ed Boyle for CBS News in London.

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