Don't mention the Waugh, Winnie

17th July 1998 at 01:00
THIS WEEK'S pronouncements on public sector pay may leave teachers more Browned off than usual; but at least the end of term is nigh. And no football for a while.

It was a mixed week for the universities. On the one hand, there's news of gifted students shunning British universities in favour of American Ivy League colleges; on the other, Cambridge is to establish a US-style school of entrepreneurship. That should prevent leading companies from complaining of poor-quality graduates and dumbing-down of degrees.

Meanwhile, Oxford undergraduates are in demand asbus drivers. The ubiquitous Stagecoach company is prepared to invest Pounds 2,000 in training each driver, and the pay is better than pub work. In Birmingham, students just get the crumbs: a Pounds 170,000 Government grant will help to unravel the mysteries of "the cognitive measurement of consumer criteria for manufacturer parameter values in biscuit texture". Sweet-toothed undergrads will chomp their way through thousands of biscuits in the next three years in search of a low-fat biccy that doesn't taste as if it was meant for the dog.

Perhaps these volunteer testers are the product of a generation who wouldn't eat their greens. But help is at hand for despairing parents whose offspring eschew spinach and sprouts. Researchers at the University of Wales in Bangor have devised a video chronicling the adventures of some streetwise kids called the Food Dudes, who are locked in combat with the wicked General Junk and his Junk Food Junta.

This exciting tale has a message - the Dudes win because they stuff themselves with fruit and veg to keep their "life force" strong so they can outwit the baddies who are trying to take over the world by tricking children into eating unhealthy food. Apparently this propaganda worked, as kids' consumption of greens doubled.

A less savoury Dude features in an "adult" cartoon, South Park, starring four foul-mouthed children described as "Peanuts on acid", which has become a cult hit on Sky TV. Terrestrial telly's Channel 4 showed the first episode, Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. Such bad taste is a far cry from our own dear Winnie the Pooh, who is set to generate millions of pounds for the beneficiaries of author AA Milne's estate.

His old school, Westminster, and the Garrick Club could benefit if Disney agrees a new copyright deal on the bear of little brain. Garrick members, including former chancellor Norman Lamont, are rubbing their hands over the prospect of a windfall of around Pounds 39,000 each. Unto everyone that hath shall be given . . .

Maybe the Bible won't get the treatment, but DH Lawrence, PG Wodehouse and HG Wells will: the grandson of Evelyn Waugh, Alexander, is launching pocket-sized short stories folded like maps to be sold for Pounds 1 in station vending machines. Just the ticket for commuters . . .

Diane Spencer

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