THE PENNY has dropped at last: children who bunk off school don't do as well as those who stick at it. So with the prospect of recalcitrant pupils being frog-marched back to class by the local cops, with the blessing of Mr Blunkett, we turn to Vikings, jolly hockey sticks and golf.
It turns out that the Danes had a bad press. Forget the raping and pillaging, the Vikings were not even tall, blond and handsome, just small and malnourished. Seven to 14-year-olds will soon learn all this with the help of a CD-Rom produced by the national museums of Ireland, Scotland and Denmark. Spoil sports.
The same cannot be said of Monica Pickersgill, president of the English Hockey Association, who gave her blessing to an advertising campaign designed to show the sexy side of women's hockey and attract more male supporters. Lucilla Wright, the 18-year-old England international, clad in a little black number, posed for the cameras to show, in the president's words, that "normal, sexy, boy-interested girls play hockey and you don't have to look like a horse".
When boy meets girl in Japan it is with the help of a pound;15 egg-shaped pocket alarm called a "Lovegety", which bleeps and flashes in three modes according to the kind of relationship required: friend, playmate or lover. "It's a great way to break the ice," said Kiyoshi, 21. "It takes away the embarrassment of having to ask whether girls are available." What will they think of next?
With luck, a cure for the teenage scourge of acne. This dire condition was highlighted by the tragic suicide of a sixth-former who was prescribed Roaccutane to clear his severe affliction. The drug has been linked to suicides among young people in America.
The case of the inexperienced British nanny, Louise Woodward, who is waiting to see whether Massachusetts Supreme Court will reinstate her murder conviction for the manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen, has increased the demand for highly-trained nannies. But now, young women are just as likely to interview parents.
Prospective nannies should perhaps question potential employers on their nutritional knowledge after disturbing news that health-conscious parents are starving their infants by insisting on low-fat, low-sugar foods, causing "muesli-belt malnutrition". Dr Jackie Stordy, research nutritionist at Surrey University, found 80 per cent of mothers were putting small children on a "nursery starvation diet" of vegetable and fruit purees and low-fat yogurt, thinking they were healthy. "Fears over obesity can be exaggerated," the good doctor said.
Not, however, according to the World Health Organisation, whose report marking its 50th anniversary shows that Britain is the third fattest nation after Russia and the United States. More than half the population is overweight. Sedentary lifestyles and diet are to blame, which brings us to golf.
The sport is being given academic recognition by Buckinghamshire Chiltern University College, High Wycombe, with a degree course in golf. Mark Readman, the course leader, said it was not simply three years of playing golf - it was business studies with applications to golf. Certainly not bunkering off, then.