St George is slain by unkind cut;The week in view

19th June 1998 at 01:00
It had to happen - not only revolting fans, but the World Cup-crazy lad who got sent home from school because his hair was dyed with the cross of St George. Eleven-year-old Alec Wilkinson from King's Lynn was a bit miffed, and so was his mum. "He's had green streaks, a chessboard and a spider's web before now and they haven't said anything," she complained.

As most teenagers are equally fed-up with the footie coinciding with mock exams or the real thing, they should spare a thought for 16-year-old Kate Goddard who postponed having her labour induced to take her English GCSE. Three days after giving birth, she returned to St Hugh's in Grantham, Lincolnshire to sit her maths paper. Mature student, Tahira Gill from Bristol, went one better. She tackled her A-level in Urdu four hours after her son was born.

Another A-level horror for 11 students from Bradford Grammar: they had been studying the wrong play for two years. King Lear did not feature in their Eng Lit exam. "Howl, howl, howl, howl," they must have cried, as did the king.

Anyway, too much power and significance is attached to exams, according to a Bradford clergyman. The Rev Jesse Smith said he was living proof of their very limited range. "I've passed lots of exams and can barely change a lightbulb."

One student who will certainly never have to stoop to such a menial task is Prince Harry who has passed his Common Entrance to join his brother at Eton. Apparently he will have to learn its arcane lingo: Wet Bob, Dry Bob and Slack Bob translate as rowers, cricketers and seniors who just laze around.

No slouching for the Weaver kids, Gregg and Laura. They are too busy looking after their 169 pets from 30 species ranging from giant snails to a boa constrictor. Jane, their mum, a nursery nurse, draws the line at tarantulas, but she has got used to frozen baby mice next to the peas and oven chips. Sixteen-year-old Gregg, inevitably, wants to work with animals. "I don't care about football or music."

It seems that the good citizens of Sheffield don't care about music either; or perhaps they are just discerning: Britpop's finest, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, has got his come-uppance. A platinum disc he generously donated as the star prize in a raffle to raise money to renovate a scout hut he attended as a child raised just pound;3.

Such hubris allows the rest of us to indulge in a spot of schadenfreude. Misfortune has also struck the good judge, Sir Stephen Tumim, former inspector of prisons, who has unexpectedly resigned as principal of St Edmond Hall, Oxford, after acrimonious clashes with dons. The students are holding sit-ins in protest. How delightfully old-fashioned.

The craze for "awareness weeks" might go out of fashion as charities are warning of compassion fatigue. This month there are 56 campaigns, 11 starting on the same day. Next year look out for the delightfully apposite National Parenting Day coinciding with the beginning of National Condom week.

Diane Spencer

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