AS TEACHERS thankfully reach for a festive glass at the end of a gruelling term and the England cricket team is ground into the dust Down Under, let's turn to some seasonal stories.
Not a lot of laughs this week - even children's toys have an economic warning attached. The BBC's Antiques Roadshow will reveal that parents should stop buying the latest fads and stick to old-fashioned Barbies, or better still, Corgi and Dinky toys, as they make better investments. Unfortunately this advice will be screened after Christmas.
Old-fashioned paper beats floppy discs when it comes to preserving documents for posterity, archivists have warned. It's one of the ironies of the decade that computers can store more information than ever, but it could be the worst documented period in history. The Public Records Office has joined forces with archive services in the United States, Canada and Australia in a campaign to warn the world about the dangers of losing historic material in the digital age.
Plus ca change: a rise in teenage pregnancies and yet another attempt to stop girls smoking. More than three-quarters of the girls who became pregnant were 15-year-olds, the Social Exclusion Unit found. Sadly, many didn't know the basic facts of reproduction.
The fashion press is carrying hard-hitting ads appealing to female vanity to stop 16 to 24-year-olds becoming addicted to tobacco. A blusher brush dipped in an ashtray sends the message: "Smoking is clinically proven to give you grottier-looking skin I every cigarette contains toxins that starve your skin of oxygen and remove the lingering traces of a healthy complexion. In fact the only thing that will be glowing about your face will be the cigarette end. "
Super models and pop stars are blamed by health chiefs for setting a bad example.
Football stars are in the firing line from David Mellor's football taskforce for failing to set a good example to young fans by doing more coaching and charity work. Members want to restore the image of footballers as clean-living role models rather than beer-swilling yobs. Fat chance.
But they're not the only poor role models. Contrary to parental opinion, it's not the kids who make car journeys a nightmare, but the adults. A survey of 700 nine to 16-year-olds found that car wars broke out frequently with fathers and mothers bickering, jumping red lights and shouting and swearing at other drivers.
News from New York. A drugs message on hundreds of pencils sent to primary schools by the Bureau for At-Risk Youth began: "Too Cool to Do Drugs." After a few sharpenings the message read, "Cool to Do Drugs." Further whittling revealed: "Do Drugs". The bureau has withdrawn them.
And finally: a pupil's dad and stepdad wrecked a Kent school's nativity play in a punch-up over access to the child. An on-looker said it was more like a western than a school play. No one was charged.
Have a peaceful Christmas.