Manacles and Man U;The week in view

21st May 1999 at 01:00
THE Government went into initiative overdrive in the space between elections; Man U supporters celebrated the first victory in a possible hat trick; cricket fans witnessed a rare England win in the opening game of the World Cup; and there were walk-on roles for the handcuffed boy, the matron and the Internet guinea-pigs.

The Manchester United win was especially good news for Kevin McCarron, 23, a postgraduate student training to be a PE teacher at Bristol University, who placed a pound;1 bet at the start of the football season on who would win all eight divisions in England and Scotland. His pound;10,764 winnings should see off his loans.

Eleven-year-old Luke Stead from Ossett, West Yorkshire, was not so lucky. His ambition to join the police led him to persuade his mother to buy him a pair of handcuffs from a market stall.

Just before he was due to sit his maths tests he locked his hands behind his back and couldn't find the key. His headteacher took pity on him and got the fire brigade to cut him free in time to finish the exams.

Abingdon school for boys in Oxfordshire was rocked by the revelation that a middle-aged matron was having an affair with an 18-year-old student who will be allowed back to do his A-levels; she has resigned.

But it wasn't all bad news for females: scientists at the University of Pennsylvania say women's brains are of a higher quality than men's although they are smaller; after 900 years girls were allowed to sing in a Winchester Cathedral choir; the first honorary women members of Marylebone Cricket Club watched the opening of the World Cup from Lord's Pavilion; and boys sitting next to girls in class were found to learn faster.

Responsible fathers won support from Cherie Booth QC, the Prime Minister's wife, who told the Woman Lawyer Forum that "leave for men when their children are born is a good idea. We need to take it seriously and it should be paid for". Downing Street and Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers have yet to be convinced.

In the interests of research at the University of Hertford four volunteers spent four days locked alone in a room with a credit card limited to pound;500 and the Internet. One received three proposals of marriage and "unwarranted attention" from anonymous suitors in "chat rooms"; others ordered chocolate, sandwiches, stationery and socks.

Helen Petrie, the university's expert in human computer interaction said the results were proof that people could survive - in some style - using just a computer. Oh brave new world.

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