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Yo-yoing on the Web

THE SUMMER silly season appears to be upon us: this week sees the rise of the Yo-yo, the demise of the school run and a new phenomenon - Web rage.

John Prescott earned accolades and brickbats with his plans to wean the populace from its devotion to the motorcar. Good news for bicycle companies, but watch out for pedestrian rage when the footpath is invaded by grown-ups who should know better.

The humble Yo-yo is enjoying a comeback in playgrounds with manufacturers reporting that thousands of the 70-year-old toy are selling each week, in contrast to almost none last year. Prices range from Pounds 2 to Pounds 100 for the SP2, made with titanium alloys used on space shuttles, which features adjustable string gap and precision ball-bearing axle. More of a yuppie toy, say the retailers.

Yo-yos are a far cry from all those sophisticated virtual pets and computer games, and they will save devotees from Web rage. A survey of 500 Internet users revealed that 44 per cent of teenagers were "wound-up" by surfing the Net, as they found it too busy or too slow.

Stress management consultants identified this condition and a new Website sponsored by the makers of indigestion tablets ( and offers 10 tips for stress-busting. Try doing something else while waiting and take some exercise, for example.

Sound advice, then, for new Oxford recruits who will soon be able to take a degree course on the Internet without eversetting foot in any of the ancient colleges.

In Scotland, they are still doing things in the traditional manner as the south is to get its first university, 150 years after Dumfries residents originally suggested it. The Crichton University of Southern Scotland opens its doors in September offering a liberal arts degree.

British writers are to sweep aside the Shakespearean tradition and turn his plays into contemporary thrillers, police dramas and comedies for ITV.

Prospero could, so help us, be recast as a millionaire owner of a private island, like Richard Branson; A Midsummer Night's Dream might be set at the Glastonbury festival; but Alan Bleasdale, creator of Boys from the Blackstuff, has turned down an offer to adapt King Lear, his favourite, saying he is unworthy of the task: a nice piece of humility, not hubris.

The makers of Monopoly showed less respect for thefamily-favourite game by abandoning London for regional variations to suit Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

There should be a PhD in it for a sociology student as to the choice of names and locations - what are the Brum equivalent of Mayfair and the Old Kent Road for a start?

More elevated minds are at work in Italy where police were baffled by the theft of 100,000 school and university textbooks, including Latin and Greek primers, in a military-style raid on a book depot in Turin. A dozen armed men in black held up staff at a warehouse belonging to a publishing house specialising in classical texts.

"We are the Robin Hoods of culture," they said, as they left with three articulated lorries stuffed with cartons full of books. "We are stealing books to give them to less fortunate Italians."

La Stampa newspaper said that in an age of electronic multimedia it was "encouraging that some people think books were worth stealing at all".

Good to hear, too, that the Prince William is thinking of following an academic career instead of a military one. In all, not a bad week for education - or Yo-yos.

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