See that babe harvest on the Net

7th August 1998 at 01:00
As the Prime Minister, bathed in the rosy glow of a smug end of term report, heads for the Tuscan hills, we turn to schools for Santas and Essex girls, baby harvests and guinea- pigs.

The ever-enterprising further education world is at it again: Weston-Super-Mare College is running an eight-week course for would-be Santa Clauses. One of their fraternity was upset by their poor image as many of those jolly figures turned out to be drunks, thieves or sex offenders. Students must be armed with a Subject Access Form 462 to show they are fit to work with children.

Essex University is doing its bit to boost the Sharon and Tracey image with a two-year part time MA course charting the development of the county's womenfolk who, according to course organiser Pam Cox, have always been "loud, had their own money and were free with their sexuality".

So too, it seems, are New York University students; but a pornographic Internet site claiming to offer a secret spy camera where female students "romp for your enjoyment in their own dorm room" has been illegally using the university's logo and pennants. Outraged authorities have sued the service provider.

Hard-up American students may not be indulging in salacious activities to pay their fees, but some are selling their eggs to infertile couples, raising fears that the "baby harvest" could lead to the poor selling their fertility to the rich. And to unpleasant side-effects for some donors.

Back home, equally cash-strapped students are being paid up to Pounds 1, 000 to act as human guinea-pigs to test a wide range of drugs, a practice banned in the States. Testing on healthy humans is legal in Britain, while testing on sick patients is governed by legislation.

With their dangerously-earned dosh, students heading for foreign climes can choose from a new generation of phrasebooks designed to help young travellers keep up with the world's street slang. The Lonely Planet books cover every eventuality from the best place to buy drugs to the most intimate exhortations. But they do take account of cultural differences. There's a "naughty" section in Italian, but not in Swahili. Public displays of affection between the sexes do not happen, the book warns.

Even dear old Roget has gone "on message" in the new edition of the Thesaurus, the first for 11 years. Among some quarter of a million words we find dangly bits, girl power, Prozac, anorak, geek, dweeb and daft.

The latter may describe Lindsay Hoyle, Labour MP for Chorley, who led 15 colleagues to sign an early-day motion stating they were "appalled" at the idea of altering Wallace's northern accent to a posh one in a version of The Wrong Trousers video to teach English to foreign students.

George Kershaw, an English language teaching author from Stockport, told him: "Don't be so daft." He reassured the MPs that Peter Sallis's delightful voiceover for the 10-inch tall Plasticine figure was in the actor's equally delightful fruity northern dialect.

Even better, there was more dialogue than in the original, "so even more exposure to the dialect than that Mr Hoyle and his irredentist buddies seem to favour".

"If your MP is one of the Wrong-Trousered 15, ask them how come they are at such a loose end as to give their time, which we pay for very generously, to a bout of ill-informed and bloody-minded paranoia? I know it's the silly season, but flippin' 'eck!" Quite.

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