Embarrassed by uncool Royal Family;The week in view

16th April 1999 at 01:00
THE CONFERENCE season over, troops back at the chalkface, a bumper crop of jobs and the start of the cricket season, as we learn that our youngsters are turning to Europe for cultural inspiration, eschewing Cool Britannia and America.

Multi-racial focus groups of 14 to 25-year-olds questioned by the youth marketing firm, Informer, found they liked Britain's vibrant film and music industries, but were embarrassed by events such as the Falklands War and the Royal Family.

This generation would no doubt be impressed with the new-look, politically correct superdoll Sindy, who is making a comeback. Dubbed "Sindy without the sin", she is reckoned to be cooler than her arch-rival Barbie with her duff boyfriend, Ken, and will appeal to sophisticated European kids.

Another Ken - Barlow, once the nation's best-known teacher in his Coronation Street role, has in his real-life self, William Roache, declared himself bankrupt. His libel action against the Sun newspaper for calling him "boring" was his financial undoing, it seems.

But even soap operas are worrying David Blunkett as he fears that childhood innocence is being destroyed by the barrage of violence, sex and foul language on television well before the 9pm watershed. The Education Secretary wants this pushed to 10pm to protect kids and has promised new guidelines for parents on the educationally acceptable number of hours small children should spend in front of the telly.

A primary school in East Sussex too is worried about "pseudo-adult behaviour" and has banned slow dancing at end-of-school discos because of its sexual connotations. Parents of pupils at Denton primary in Newhaven are angry at the governors' ban. One asked: "Who are these people to say two 10-year olds, who are not smooching or kissing, but just dancing, are up to no good? Slow dances are socially acceptable the world over. We don't want our children to grow up with a warped image of slow dancing because of the views of archaic governors."

Dancing might help co-ordinate 12 and 13-year-old boys who are genuinely clumsy because they grow so fast their brains can't keep up with their bodies, Dorothy Heffernan, a psychologist at Strathclyde University has discovered. The "Kevin Syndrome", named after comedian Harry Enfield's teenage character, doesn't affect girls so badly and lasts about a year for boys. Though it might seem longer to their long-suffering parents.

Diane Spencer

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