How beautiful is your Bappy?;The week in review

8th May 1998 at 01:00
ASWE recover from another bank holiday and accompanying bad weather, let's turn to "bappies", beauty queens and Bingo the budgie.

Social commentators have a new acronym to conjure with: "baby of affluent professional parents". Bappies, it seems, wear designer clothes, eat in posh restaurants and are served by several consumer magazines. Parents are warned, however, that bappiehood does not last long. By the time the tots are three or four they will want the same things as the others, or what they see on TV, according to a marketing man, who added: "And that may not be very upmarket."

By the time they are teenagers, their affluent parents will probably be paying private detectives to spy on them. The Association of Private Investigators revealed that it recruits teenagers to go clubbing with 12 to 18-year-olds suspected by their parents of flirting with drugs or crime.

No wonder by the time they get to university students turn to drink. Far from enjoying a relaxed lifestyle, a survey of nearly 1,000 Newcastle University undergraduates found their average stress level was almost double that of the general population. Workload and poor housing was blamed more than financial problems. Many found solace in a bottle.

From Newcastle to Nanterre, where the student mood is far removed from the heady May days of 1968 when thousands took to the streets. An economics lecturer from the University of Paris X at Nanterre, where the protests began, recalled handing out posters proclaiming: "Never work". He commented ruefully: "Now I have students forming investment clubs and enrolling for a fifth year in the hope they'll stand a better chance of employment."

Even Oxford students showed some semblance of common sense by heeding police warnings about the dangers of making the traditional May Day leap into the river Cherwell from Magdalen Bridge. A poster asked: "Would you leap into a swimming pool with 312 feet of muddy water, full of bikes, broken glass, rusty cans and discarded syringes while totally drunk?" Certainly not Kate Shindle, who was crowned Miss America last September. On sabbatical leave from her drama and sociology studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the beauty queen has raised the ire of conservatives and religious fundamentalists by promoting the distribution of condoms to school children and needle exchanges for drug addicts in a bid to curb HIV. Political correctness has nothing to do with her campaign, she insists.

Bus driver David Wright, however, could attribute his sacking as a school governor to a spot of PC-ism. He admitted to greeting Marlene Cooper, head of Dines Green Primary school, Worcestershire, with: "Hello, gorgeous", a phrase he said he often says to his passengers and attributes to his Lancastrian origins.

A famous Northern soap opera, along with the rest, might be forced to toe the PC line if a suggestion made by Ed Straw, the Home Secretary's brother, is taken up. He wants broadcasters to devote a minimum number of hours to relationship and parenting education, especially via soaps. After all, The Archers was introduced to educate farmers about food production.

Finally, a feathered friend is helping pre-school children to learn nursery rhymes and language skills. Bingo the Budgie was praised by inspectors in their report of Misterton school in Yeovil, Somerset, for his educational contribution.

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