The don who wasn't and the smell that was;The Week in View;Newsreel

6th March 1998 at 00:00
As the nation mourns the death of its favourite BTEC agriculture student, John Archer, we learn that the Government has suffered a defeat on tuition fees and maintenance grants in the Lords. But no doubt this will be overturned in the Commons, so no real respite for academe.

But some red faces: Worcester College, Oxford, played host to a bogus student, Richard Ray, for five months. The dodgy don, a graduate of Brunel University, awarded himself a PhD and impressed high table with his erudition. He wanted to research a book on life in the ivory towers, he told Oxford magistrates.

A real student suffered humiliation at the hands of the local police who confiscated her copy of a book celebrating the work of the late and controversial photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, on the grounds of obscenity. The University of Central England student was using it to illustrate her thesis on fine art versus pornography. Peter Knight, the university's vice-chancellor and the publishers, Random House, were not amused by West Midland Police's action and will fight the confiscation order.

There must be something in the Midlands air. Two students at Oxford Brookes University, have set up a pound;l million bet with William Hill at 10,000-1 that one of them will become prime minister by 2038. So keep an eye on Christopher Kelly from Wolverhampton and Justin Tomlinson from Kidderminster.

At least these young gentlemen, members of the Conservative Society, will not be emulating the hapless characters in the television series, Men Behaving Badly. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, and Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools, told GMTV's Sunday programme they were worried about this feckless species which now adorns our screens. Mr Straw feared that boys were laddish because they couldn't cope with girls' success. Poor diddums. But Mr Woodhead urged viewers to keep things in perspective, quoting from Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale in which a shepherd says: "I wish there were no age between 10 and 23, because young men get wenches with child, upset the ancientry, stealing and fighting."

"Four hundred years ago; the same problem," commented our robust man from the Office for Standards in Education who two days later proposed yet another radical reform: state school heads should have the same autonomy as their grant-maintained colleagues.

Autonomous is what a lot of youngsters think Britain should be, much to the chagrin of Europhiles. A survey of 500 under-25s by the Runnymede Trust and the Commission for Racial Equality showed that most did not know much about the EU and what's more, didn't care. A 16-year-old thought Britain conjured up images of the Union Jack, rain and fish and chips.

The weather certainly intervened dramatically in the lives of West Leeds High School children when gales lifted slates off the roof. Mercifully the pupils were inside as it happened just before the lunch break.

Research gem of the week - grubbiness equals healthiness. Scientists at Bristol University's Institute of Child Health found that children who washed frequently at an early age were 25 per cent more likely to develop asthma or other allergies than their dirtier counterparts. Apparently cleaner kids don't develop vigorous immune systems.

Following last week's genetic revelations, researchers at Yale University in the US now claim dyslexia is a real phenomenon. It is caused by deficient brain functioning in the region linking the angular gyrus which turns images into words to the Wernicke's area controlling the understanding of words. At least that's what I thought I'd readI For those of a more numerate nature, not to say mercenary, there's a chance to become virtual millionaires in the latest wheeze for the Millennium Dome. A computer game, a sort of third millennium Monopoly, part of a pound;12 million public relations exercise for the City, is based on the training traders get before they take to the floor of the international financial futures market.

As the Dome rises, redolent with virtual reality, real museums with real treasures are facing extinction. Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury, home of the award- winning Roald Dahl Children's Gallery, needs pound;10 million to survive and will have to start charging visitors.

Even Mr Dahl's imagination might have balked at a newpublishing venture by World International which is producing smelly books with a longer life than the usual Scratch and Sniff. So look out for Pooey Zoo and especially Stinky School which promises authentic gym and school dinner odours.

Diane Spencer

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