Roll a fat one and be moshin;The week in view

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
Let's ponder on the meaning of art in this age of virtual reality. In a week which saw the launch of a Government Green Paper on childcare it was timely to read about Tobi, a computerised doll, which is teaching Scottish girls about the pain and pleasure of motherhood.

The 26 Tayside teenagers concluded that a baby was more demanding than they imagined: not a "bow-down" experience. According to a survey of teenspeak that means "great", as does "bitchin". "Roll a fat one" disappointingly means "play another record". Tony Blair should note that "cool" translates as "moshin". (But maybe "moshin Britannia" doesn't have quite the same ring.) At least this alternative vocabulary is not going to be foisted on an unwilling nation, unlike in Germany which is facing a revamp of the language that has taken a decade to negotiate. Most Germans are not amused. The reform has been challenged in 30 provincial courts and only 12 per cent are in favour- even the euro is more popular.

French is the language in the run-up to the World Cup with the BBC latching on to what enterprising further education colleges have been doing for months: wacky Gallic courses tailored to football fans.

Just when you think it's all over, another menace looms: girl gangs at matches, markedly at Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester City and Southampton, says George Sik, a psychologist at Leicester University. "Women have become more blokeish. This is another example of girl power. If anything they are more aggressive than the men."

Perhaps it's as well that chaps are turning to househusbanding. A 12-year study by Yale University found that children raised primarily by their father had above-average intelligence. Experts believe this is because men who go against the social norm are more highly motivated than the average mother; and when the working mother returns home she takes a more active role in parenting than does the father in conventional marriages.

But it could all be in the genes. Scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London have isolated a gene shared by highly intelligent children, giving rise to fears that this could lead to genetic tests for intelligence in embryos.

And so to art. Hats off to 13 fine arts students at Leeds University for raising the debate on the nature of art. They supposedly spent a pound;1,100 grant for an exhibition called Going Places on a six-day trip to the Costa del Sol for sun and sangria. The exhibition, they explained, was the expression on the faces of their tutors as they sauntered through customs.

Terry Atkinson, a lecturer, said: "It's definitely art, but whether it's good or bad art is another thing." Before the group revealed that it was all a hoax, the students' union led the attacks. "They're totally taking the piss," complained spokeswoman Ruth Wilkin.

But Simon Clarke, one of the students, said: "If we can start conversations like 'what is art?' then our exhibition has worked." Discuss.

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