Brainwash and go;Sideways Look;The week in Education;Briefing;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
NODDY HAS survived allegations of racism, sexism and snobbery to reach a ripe old 50. Not bad for a little elf.

Another unlikely hero is Homer Simpson, the fat, bald American cartoon character. Lancaster University psychology professor Charles Lewis told Britain's first national conference on fatherhood that Homer was "a good Western cultural icon for fathers". The most famous father of the week must look to his laurels, as his Blair babe gives a new meaning to the term Sure Start.

By the time the new occupant of Number 10 starts toddling, let's hope that the Pokemon phenomenon has ended. These little monsters, with attendant products, have been banned from some toy shops and playgrounds.

Long after the Pokemon craze is over, you can be sure Barbie, Sindy and Steffi will still be around, though Steffi won't look the same. She is being remodelled to give little girls a more realistic view of women's shapes.

Playing with dolls is relatively harmless, but toy guns are another matter. A study by the University of Georgia has shown that children who play with them are more likely to be violent later in life.

The World Health Organisation is worried about another fad:fruit-flavoured cigarettes called "bidis" from India. They are made using tobacco impregnated with mango, and chocolate flavours to appeal to young tastebuds. It is believed they are being smuggled into the country and sold for 3p each.

Remember the goal-scoring seagull? Now it's Bugs, the football-mad bunny who hares off with the ball during matches at Innesfree school in Wythall, Worcestershire. She now has to sit out games in her hutch.

And finally, just what pupils need - a shampoo to boost your IQ. "Brainwash", claims the manufacturer, can improve memory and concentration after a fortnight's use. You can try it out next year.

Diane Spencer

* Sideways


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