Revealed: the truth behind monsters, myths and marriage;Newsreel;The Week in View

10th April 1998 at 01:00
As the more diligent (or die-hard) members of the teaching profession progress to the nation's beaches for their annual conferences, while the rest of us take a break, let's muse upon monsters.

Children treated to an Easter trip to the Natural History Museum in London will discover the origin of myths as old as the Cyclops, unicorns, dragons and mermaids to the more modern Yeti. Depressingly, these fabulous creatures can be explained; but, happily, truth can be as strange as fiction,as one critic observed.

With soap operas increasingly blurring the boundaries of fact and fiction it's easy to see why Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear took exception to publishers and producers taking political correctness to extremes. On the 40th anniversary of his Peruvian pet, he objected to Canadian television censors telling him to write in ethnic minorities and unlikely female characters.

Even our own dear Teletubbies are being forced to conform to American norms, well, at least, accents. A company called Itsy Bitsy Entertainment has bought them to be shown on the US equivalent of the BBC and has translated "Eh-oh" into transatlantic-speak; but this is probably more comprehensible than the latest academic craze -"Dianababble".

Theories about the death of the world's most famous woman have flooded publishers with treatise, particularly from thirty-something dons. Scott Wilson, from Lancaster University, reckoned the awful event was "a cultural and social end point which coincides with the end point of their youth". Jude Davies, a cultural theorist at King Alfred's College, Winchester, is writing a book entitled The Media Iconicity of Diana, Princess of Wales in which he outlines how she has become a"magical synthesis of binary oppositions to a focus of argument". Another bears the title: That's the Way the Mercedes Benz: Di, Wound Culture and Fatal Fetishism. Sir Roy Strong, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, dismissed most of the theorising as "trash-can rubbish".

Sir Roy's successor at the Vamp;A, Dame Elizabeth Esteve-Coll, who recently retired as vice-chancellor of East Anglia University, was instrumental in gaining the proceeds of the sale of a famous Modigliani painting for a new Japanese gallery there. The Portrait of Baranowski was bought as a mutual wedding present by Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury in 1937 and will be shown in Zurich, London, Tokyo and London before the sale when it is expected to fetch between pound;4 and pound;6 million.

Enduring marriages are not entirely a thing of the past, we learn from Uppingham, the independent Leicestershire school. Since girls were admitted 20 years ago, around 60 ex-pupils have married one another, and, in contrast to national trends, only one couple has divorced. This is despite the philosophy of the school which discourages exclusive relationships and frowns on PDAs -public displays of affection.

That's what fathers should show their sons, the Sex Education Forum says. Moreover, they should talk to their sons more about sex and relationships to cut the high rate of teenage pregnancies. If that puts them off, the lads can indulge their other passions: war games and computers, by joining the Navy which is recruiting Internet nerds in cyber cafes. If they still want to chase girls, they should join the Army, as a record number of women have applied in the past year.

Not a good week for the young chaps.They are even being targeted by toy manufacturers as a soft option in the declining market. The editor of World Toy News explained: "They demand more choice and are more fickle than girls. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and its is easy to tap into their desire for action and excitement." Girls, on the other hand are more prone to the GOY phenomenon - getting old younger. How depressing.

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