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A Tigger's a terrible thing

DAVID Blunkett is standing firm on drugs: "Say no," he says; but The Bard had other ideas according to two South African scientists. They have dared to suggest that Shakespeare's prodigious feats owed as much to dope as to natural genius.

Professor Nick van der Merwe and Dr Frances Thackeray from Pretoria are analysing the contents of clay pipes retrieved from Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon to establish what was burned in the 400-year-old relics. Was this such stuff as dreams were made on?

Another author, Anthony Trollope, is getting a makeover by the BBC. Andrew Davies, who got the nation's women swooning over Mr Darcy, has adapted The Way We Live Now for TV with sex scenes which he admits that Trollope only hinted at. Mr Davies reckons that the author would have probably included more graphic scenes himself it it were not for Victorian censorship and strict morality when the work appeared in 1875.

But film producr Ismael Merchant would disagree. He prefers the more gracious age of Edwardian England where his latest screen adaptation, Henry James's, The Golden Bowl, is set. Mr Merchant despairs of modern Britain as it is no longer the seat of elegance, learning and good manners; it is a push-button society dominated by greed and instant gratification.

The genteel days of AA Milne seem numbered too: Disney has withdrawn thousands of talking Tigger toys after complaints that the cute creature uttered obscenities. The Tigger backpack is meant to say "I'm Tigger" and growl when squeezed; instead it emits a word beginning with "w" and ending with "r".

Even celebrity chefs are harking back to the good old days. Gary Rhodes has launched a campaign to put cookery classes back on the national curriculum. Children are missing out on the sheer joy of cooking and producing good food, he says. Let's raise a toast to that.

Diane Spencer

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