Health scares and headaches;The week in view;Opinion

19th February 1999 at 00:00
HANGOVERS, heirs and holidays were in the news this week, but it was dominated by the GM controversy - not grant maintained schools, but genetically modified food.

New Labour is alarmingly emulating Old Tory by the hour: Tony Blair is happy for his family to eat GM fare-shades of John Gummer feeding his daughter, Cordelia, beefburgers at the height of the BSE crisis 10 years ago?

A different worry for Scottish teachers, who are faced with hungover kids, as young as 12. West Lothian council is collaborating in a drug and alcohol project on a pound;20,000 scheme to provide counselling and advice for children, and training for teachers on how to talk to pupils abut the dangers of drink and drugs.

These dangers don't just beset the lower orders. The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland have won High Court approval to defer their 14-year-old son's inheritance to protect him from having too much money too soon. Earl Percy will have to wait until he's 25 for his pound;1 million plus pound;250,000 a year. His parents want to avoid "vices and pitfalls" which befell the Marquess of Bristol who died of chronic drug abuse in January. He had inherited a huge sum when he was 21.

For those augmenting more meagre parental contributions by delivering newspapers it's good and bad news: a European Union directive on working time could give newspaper boys and girls the right to four weeks' paid annual leave. Hurrah! But newsagents say the regulations would lead to 10,000 job losses and end home deliveries. Another headache for former education minister, Stephen Byers, who stepped into Peter Mandelson's shoes as Trade and Industry Secretary.

At least he's not burdened with The National College for School Leadership, proposed by the PM last year. Civil servants have been briefed by Sandhurst's finest on instilling professionalism and attracting born leaders. The military academy, whose graduates include King Hussein of Jordan, Winston Churchill and various African dictators think ministers are right to borrow its traditions-well, some of them.

Less formal combat advice for Welsh girls who had the first curriculum self-defence lessons. A-level students at Porth Comprehensive in the Rhondda Valley were taught by police how to recognise and avoid trouble. Should they fail, they were told to kick hard at the shins and run.

The girls of St Trinian's school surely never needed such advice. Ronald Searle posters are up for auction at Christie's vintage film poster sale next month. Expect to pay between pound;200 and pound;600. Earl Percy could afford the lot.

Diane Spencer

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