Ahoy! to Captain Pugwash and MCC women

WITH the party conference season in full swing, it was a relief to see the MCC do a U-turn on women, and to switch channels for Captain Pugwash whose exploits are back on TV after 20 years.

The pirate and his mates have gained political correctness, slick animation and transatlantic accents, but creator John Ryan doesn't mind. In any case he's laughing all the way to the bank.

The 211-year-old Marylebone Cricket Club reached the two-thirds majority needed to allow in women, reversing an earlier vote. But unless you're an ace wielder of the bat or ball it's an 18-year waiting list.

It was a good week for young Catherine Armitage, 25-year-old Kevin Apps and the unnamed eight-year-old awarded Pounds 10,000 damages by the European Court of Human Rights after being caned by his stepfather.

Ms Armitage scored the maximum 178 in a Mensa test at the age of 11 - putting her comfortably into the top 1 per cent of the intelligence range, according to the elite club's spokeswoman. But she likes pop music and messing about with her friends. Phew!

Mr Apps, an undergraduate at Sussex university, helped NASA scientists to find a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system, by telling them where to look.

The Strasbourg cane ruling, five years after the stepfather was acquitted of assault in a British court, was hailed as a landmark judgment by human rights groups. Health minister Paul Boateng reassured parents that they would still be allowed to smack their children. "This Government believes in parental discipline."

Parents were given another pointer with a guide from the Consumers' Association on domestic help, or how to avoid the nanny from hell. Domestic service is Britain's biggest growth industry - not the nanny state, but a nation of nannies?

But, on the whole, not a good week for parents: mothers were shocked when a child psychiatrist claimed that babies who continually cried at night might feel insecure. Julian Morrell from Oxford said if mother and baby did not form an attachment by the time the infant turned one, the baby was far more likely to have sleeping problems. Child experts said his comments were "unhelpful".

Parents were given another thing to worry about: Food Avoidance Emotional Disorder - fear of eating. Shy and withdrawn under-10s are most at risk, said a specialist team at London's Great Ormond Street hospital.

The victims say they are frightened of choking, hurting their tummy or being sick. A third are male, compared with the one in 10 anorexics who are boys.

If they are worried about children taking drugs, parents can buy a kit to test their offspring's urine for cocaine, amphetamines, Ecstasy, heroin and cannabis. A great weapon in the drugs war, claimed Chris Collins who is selling the kits. Snoops' charter, said the critics. Who'd be a parent?

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