Eat up that tubby tustard now, fatty

30th October 1998 at 00:00
As the Charles and Camilla soap drags on and the fate of Chile's former dictator hangs in the balance, we turn to Teletubbies, clever monkeys and WH Smith.

One of our old friends, the rotund red Po, has been accused of talking dirty by New Yorkers unused to the curious dialect. The stuffed toys are supposed to utter a variety of phrases, such as "Big Hug" or "Tubby Tustard", when their TV-screen tummies are squeezed. But Po made buyers blush by seeming to call out "Faggot' or "Fatty". One woman swore the Teletubby told her to "Bite my butt".

The American licensee, the Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company, claimed the Asian actress who created Po's teletalk was actually saying "Fidit," the Cantonese for "Faster". Eh-oh!

Further proof that it's a funny old world: scientists from Columbia University, New York, found that two rhesus monkeys, Rosencrantz and Macduff, can count up to nine. So arithmetic is not an exclusively human preserve.

These distant cousins could discriminate between groups of objects in ascending order. They have the capacity to master simple arithmetic on at least the level of a two-year-old, said Elizabeth Brannon, one of the researchers. But, given their names and an infinite number of word processors, can they write Shakespeare as well?

The Bard is a bit too old to feature in the list of the best books of the past 150 years. These have been chosen by the country's favourite authors and commissioned by WH Smith to celebrate its 150th birthday. But many books on the list aren't available in stores nationwide. Not much call for Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Times Past, apparently. "Too highbrow," said a spokesman.

Brainy but poor students will find it harder to get into Worcester College, Oxford, unless it triples its endowment income. Richard Smethurst, the provost, is launching a Pounds 25 million campaign to be headed by Sir Timothy Sainsbury of the supermarket dynasty.

Jared Greenblatt presumably won't be beating a path to Worcester's door just yet. He left Clifton College, the Bristol public school, in disgrace after organising an 18th-birthday party in a local pub and collapsing on the pavement, Gazza-style. The school's motto is aptly Spiritus intus alit ("The spirit nourishes within") and its Close inspired Sir Henry Newbolt's famous poem beginning: "There's a breathless hush . . ."

The playing fields of Cardiff and Watford are set to rival those of Eton and Rugby, according to a newspaper analysis of examination results and entries in Who's Who.

Cardiff high school (famous old boy: John Humphrys, the scourge of politicians on Radio 4's Today programme) ranks as one of the top 250 state secondary schools for exam results. It has 53 former pupils entered in the Establishment tome.

Watford grammar school (conductor Sir Andrew Davis's old school) comes second with 39, both beating Gordonstoun, the heir to the throne's alma mater, which only rated 23 places. But Eton, where his beleaguered sons are being educated, registers more than 1,000 entries. Not quite a classless society yet, then.

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