The silly season is warming up;The week in view

14th August 1998 at 01:00
A WEEK of euphoria: summer arrived; England's cricketers won their first Test series in a dozen years; and scientists caught the silly season bug.

While his sons and niece scandalised the nation with scary exploits and tongue studs, the Prince of Wales pontificated on architecture, promising that his new institute would be modern, but not modernist.

Modernisers, however, are at work in the form of the Quality Assurance Agency which is reviewing degree titles to end confusion over the different awards made by universities - what's an Oxford MA worth? pound;10 if you have a BA from the university and pay up 21 terms after it was awarded.

The Times sneered that Ivor Crewe, vice-chancellor of Essex University and chairman of the QAA's working party who called for the MAs' abolition, was "a Sierra-driving sans-culottes". "Such petty chippiness from the estuary academic is the university equivalent of dragging keys across a Jaguar's paintwork."

Two white parents at a Manchester independent school would doubtless approve of Professor Crewe's modernist stance. They removed their three and five-year-olds from Joseph Raynor on account of a toy called Gordon Golly which they found "totally offensive".

But a black parent supported the decision to keep the toy - "It's a cuddly toy. These children have no need to be brought into the world of racism at that age."

Which brings us to those cuddly Teletubbies - who will acquire brothers and sisters in a sequel for older children next year. A BBC spokesperson said:

"Teletubby Land is a magical place where surprises often happen."

The cable and satellite children's channel, Nickelodeon, caused shock when a member of the girl band B*Witched said the F-word on air. The Independent Television Commission gave the programme a ticking off.

Disciplinarian Clare Head, dismissed from St David's girls' school in Ashford, Surrey, for allegedly giving pupils too much homework, has been awarded undisclosed damages. Likened to the fictional Miss Jean Brodie, she is working on a book on teaching and discipline.

Another fictional favourite, Jennings, the 1950s prep-school boy, turns out to have been based on Diarmuid Jennings, a friend of the author. "He was cheeky and boisterous and the model for my first stories," Anthony Buckeridge reveals.

Nine-year-old Samuel Solomi will not have read any Jennings books - he is so mad about maths that he has little time for anything else. He plans to reach degree-level by next year and wants to study astro-physics.

Physicists dismissed the Earth as the cosmological equivalent of Swindon; then they calculated that hell's fires burn at 445 Centigrade and heaven is a bit hot at 232 C.

The Evangelical Alliance said: "You have to suspend knowledge and rationality to believe that this is genuine scientific knowledge. The irony is that it is usually scientists who accuse theologians of being irrational." It's August.

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