B.U.Ms will be big this Christmas - much to David Newnham's horror

David Newnham

Sorry if I seem dazed, but I just saw a small girl having a Barbie Doll removed, and I'm not used to witnessing surgical procedures.

And this was quite an operation. First, the spindly little arms had to be bent back to their full extentI and I'm not talking about the doll's arms. The hardest part, though, was the verbal warning. "I'll take this! You know perfectly well that you're not allowed to bring in toysI". The school is quite right, of course. Barbie has some fairly pointy parts, and the Empress of Emeralds doll from the Royal Jewels Collection could inflict nasty flesh wounds in a playground ruck.

Until recently, I'd have supported a Barbie ban on grounds of taste alone. But having seen what's on offer at the rear end of Woolworths these days, I could almost imagine Barbie raising the tone.

I am talking, of course, about the TV spin-off "figurines" known collectively as Butt-Ugly Martians (didn't you get my subtle reference to "rear end"?). What I don't understand is this: How, in the land of the 9 o'clock watershed, did the term "butt-ugly", clearly more at home in a lads' magazine, manage to slip past the guardians of kiddie culture? The same way as FCUK insinuated itself into the staid surroundings of my local branch of Boots?

It's a bit like Bob the Builder saying "bum". Except that Bob is clearly yesterday's man. Apparently B.U.Ms (that's what they call these aliens in the toy trade) are going to be big this Christmas. Can't you see the headlines? "Big rush on B.U.Ms" (narff, narff).

I know of at least one appalled parent who tells her son they are "Big Ugly Martians". But you have to be careful when you start weaving those tangled webs. The boy is learning to read, for heaven's sake, and he's already confused about FCUK.

I grew up believing that I was hearing-impaired on account of My Old Man's A Dustman. "He wears gorblimey trousers," sang Lonnie Donegan. My mum told me they were "all grimy".

About this butt business. I reckon it slipped through because words such as "butt" and "fanny" and "prat" have different connotations on different sides of the Atlantic.

In other words, it's all a big mistake. Or a cock-up, as Barbie might say.

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David Newnham

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