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Paper Monitor

11:03 UK time, Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So, farewell then, Paul the Octopus. With your match-predicting nous and reputed psychic powers, you kept the papers busy throughout a mediocre World Cup.

Paul, born in Weymouth, correctly forecast how Germany would perform in seven matches and accurately tipped Spain over the Netherlands in the final.

But now he has passed on. He has ceased to be. Paul is an ex-octopus.

Across Fleet Street, the sense of loss is palpable.

"In a summer of less-than-stellar football, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi all found wanting," mourns the Daily Mirror, "the clever little sea creature was often the only thing worth watching."

It is a touching eulogy, offset only slightly by the headline "They think it's Paul over... it is now" and a factbox detailing how he could be made into tapas.

The Sun is equally florid, referring to Paul as a "mystic cephalopod" and adding wistfully: "A £10 accumulator on Paul's tips would have won £3,000 at William Hill."

However, it is the heavy papers that devote the most attention to the late invertebrate.

The Times [subscription required] is especially effusive:

Iran pronounced him decadent; President Ahmadinejad said that the mollusc was spreading Western propaganda, and there were rumours of an octo-fatwa. Kazakhstan betting syndicates, furious that they had been out-guessed by an octopus, or indeed anyone born in Weymouth, swore revenge. The Spanish Government offered Paul a safe haven.

Yet, at the end of the day, he appears to have died a natural death. Paul had been sluggish for weeks and, while an octopus always has problems getting out of bed, it was clear that he was on his last legs.

But it is the Guardian that devotes the most energy to the story.

On its front page, under no fewer than three (three!) bylines - including those of its Beijing and Berlin correspondents - it tells breathlessly of an array of conspiracy theories about Paul's death emerging "like a cephalopod from a crevice".

It quotes the Chinese director of a forthcoming thriller entitled Who Killed Paul the Octopus? who says she is ""60 to 70% sure" he died in July and was secretly replaced.

The evidence? "[Octopuses] all look the same. It is impossible to tell the difference."

Paper Monitor is most gratified, however, by the headline in the print (though not the online) edition - "Kicker conspiracy?" references to Mark E Smith and the Fall always being welcome in these quarters.

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