Bye, bye Brylcreem boy, hello bugs;The week in view

8th January 1999 at 00:00
Welcome to 1999, the year that will herald millennium bugs, delirium or despair over cricket and rugby world cups, a thousand initiatives from the Department for Education and Employment, and nostalgia: so what's new?

Last year ended with another daft school ban - this time on a Nottingham 14-year-old for using Brylcreem, which was deemed to be a fire hazard in science lessons. Not true, say the manufacturers.

There was the heart-warming seasonal story of a 10-year-old in Sevenoaks, Kent, who donated a quarter of his pound;10,000 prize from a packet of Cheesy Wotsits towards a new school classroom. His head was impressed, confessing that he would have been more inclined to leg it to his local car showroom.

There was tragi-comedy too, as the Teletubbies reportedly caused the deaths of two infants in New York whose television sets toppled onto them as they tried to hug them. "Young children enchanted with them want to participate in a nurturing experience," said a paediatrician at the Jacobi Medical Centre.

The Tubbies aren't the only dangerous entertainments: computer games are giving children "Nintendo thumb", a type of repetitive strain injury (RSI), familiar to the PC-using classes.

The Body Action Campaign, which advises schools on RSI, said that it was vital children be taught how to avoid injury - particularly as three million games were sold this Christmas, and with the Government planning to give computer access to every child by 2001.

Women in Edinburgh have given short shrift to the late author Arthur Koestler, who bequeathed pound;500,000 for a chair in parapsychology at the university. A bust dedicated to him was removed from the foyer as students threatened to deface it following the publication of David Cesarani's biography, which claimed Koestler beat and raped several women.

Good news for girls: a study has shown their "agreeable personalities" make them more likely to succeed at university than boys. "People who are cooperative, flexible and less defensive are more likely to succeed. What once placed women in the margins is now putting them at the centre," said Ruth Woodfield, of Sussex University.

And finally, as term gets underway these dark winter days, teachers here can count their blessings. At least they are not in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, where their counterparts have been given sheets, camouflage clothing and coffins as end-of-year bonuses by bankrupt local authorities.

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