Real men don't read 'chick lit'

24th March 2000 at 00:00
CHERIE BOOTH struck a blow for mothers by telling lawyers and academics at King's College, London: "Our children need male role models as well as female ones if they are to grow up into well-rounded individuals." But whether her husband will follow the Finnish prime minister's "fine example" and take paternity leave after their baby is born in May remains to be seen.

Still, a study by Abbey National found that parents spend more "quality" time with their children than previous generations, despite the pressures of work. The amount of time has trebled over the past three decades to an average of 85 minutes a day for each child compared with 25 minutes for their parents' generation.

A throwback to their grand-parents' time, Dan Dare, hero of The Eagle comic, is featured in an exhibition at Whitstable Museum in Kent. The 50-year-old works of the Rev Marcus Morris and artist Frank Hampson were so futurisic that the Ministry of Defence had a regular order for the comic for more than a decade.

Latin, the "dead" language, is bouncing into life again, thanks to a burgeoning interest in tracing ancestors. Thousands of amateur historians are taking it up to decipher documents holding clues to families. Dr Jill Barber, of the Westminster Archives, which holds records going back to the 13th century, said a lot of people were surprised that English wasn't the official language of the country until 1733.

Finally, a survey by Orange, sponsors of the pound;30,000 prize for women's fiction, discovered that male readers only seem interested in macho subjects. For example, they said they might buy Zadie Smith's prize contender, White Teeth - but only if they mistook it for a thriller about sharks. They tended to relegate books to "chick lit" if there was any hint of emotion in the title. Over to you, Cherie.

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