Shop till you damn well drop, baby;The week in view

12th March 1999 at 00:00
SHOPPING, swearing, and sin dominated the headlines this week. Shopaholics delighted in the news that shopping lessons are to be made compulsory in schools.

The Pope, a man who knows little of conspicuous consumption, has made a bid for the "yoof" market. He has released a CD of his wise words - in rap.

A new invention from America's Bible belt cuts out all the rude bits on TV. It intercepts the signal sent to display subtitles, then uses its own dictionary to replace naughtiness with a "profanity-free" alternative.

Just don't expect any thanks for buying it. A new study revealed British children feel they spend too much time watching TV and playing computer games.

Apparently they see themselves as battery kids, unable to take part in healthy outdoor pursuits due to over-protective parents. All lies, thinks TES columnist Ted Wragg: "Schools are always encouraging them to take books home to read. But they don't," he told the Observer.

"Bail bandits" - repeat teenage offenders - were this week promised pound;13 million of Government money to help them stay locked up. Ratboy, Spiderboy, Boomerang boy and Blip boy are just four of the comically-named teenage tearaways terrorising Britain today, or at least that's how the tabloids see it.

Another naughty boy was 24-year-old James Archer, son of the literary Jeffrey and fragrant Mary, sacked from his high-flying city career. Archer junior spent the week sunning himself in Mauritius, but could face jail in Sweden for allegedly rigging the Swedish stock market.

Once upon a time, posh boys like James were punished with a boarding-school regime of cold porridge, cold baths and hard bunks. Not any more, according to the Boarding Education Alliance, which says boarding schools are rather more akin to five-star hotels with fine cuisine, fitted carpets and soft duvets.

The week's other posh boy was Brooklyn Joseph Beckham, a new arrival weighing in at 7lb, the spawn of footballer David Beckham and Posh Spice. Posh, together with her cohort Scary, who gave birth to Pheonix Chi two weeks earlier, has come in for criticism after apparently making pregnancy look too easy.

Posh's comment that she wanted a "rough tough kind of baby" and apparent belief that babies slept all night showed a "worryingly stunted level of emotional development," said Sunday Times columnist India Knight. "Having babies," the Spices are told, "is not like buying a new Fendi baguette bag."

Those shopping lessons may not come in so handy after all.

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