This England

In a controversial new scheme [to stop pupils using bad language], children as young as 11 are asked to write down as many swear words that they can think of.
Teachers then graphically describe what each one means in the hope that the children will not use them again. The programme is part of the Personal, Social and Health Education module. - Daily Telegraph (Ron Rubin)

MI5 sleuths planned to use gerbils to trap terrorists and subversives during the cold war, Britain's top counter-spy revealed yesterday.
Until, that is, it was found that instead of catching spies the gerbils caught innocent victims. British security sources pointed out that the gerbils could not distinguish between sweat produced by a nervous spy and passengers suffering from carrying heavy baggage. - Guardian (Imogen Forster)

£5 tokens for all winners. Entries on a postcard, please

This article first appeared in the 16 July 2001 issue of the New Statesman, How long have we got?