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Doll of the week

If you thought the Furbies were ghastly, say a big "Hi" to the new toy on the block, "Amazing Amy". She is a "living doll". She whines, gurgles and answers back. She will also fill her nappy with lifelike material and announce the achievement thus: "Whoa! My nose says it's time to change my diaper." Time to move on.

Flop of the week

Another living doll. This one is a bit bigger than Amazing Amy, but Amazing Vanessa also whines, gurgles and answers back. Not content with the pounds 1m that the BBC is shoving her way to fill the daytime schedules, her poor ratings and pannings by the critics are starting to torment her. "I feel absolutely wretched. I lie there at night with my heart thumping. It's not fair." Whoa! Let us hope that her diaper warnings are timely.

Crow of the week

Hitchcock was right. Amy and Vanessa aren't the only nasty birds out there, and one especially vicious species is about to land on our shores. The Asiatic crow has hitch-hiked as far as Holland and twitchers are getting twitchy about its debut over here. So should we all. It promises to be devastating, a mink of the skies. These crows, a bit smaller than our own carrion variety, will scavenge and kill pets, domestic animals and local wild birds. Amazing Amy probably wouldn't stand much of a chance either.

Spin of the week

Mandy goes global. He may wrench a few guts on his home turf, but he's still well respected abroad. Reports this week suggest that Mr Mandelson will soon be travelling to Jerusalem to help the Israeli Labour Party in its elections, and offering advice to the ANC in South Africa about the succession to Nelson Mandela, and become unofficial "Minister for Europe" under Robin Cook. Now, Mr Mandelson may be possesed of many gifts, but how he can manage to spin in three continents simultaneously remains mysterious. South Africa should be the most realistic option, however. Sun City, they say, has some excellent night spots.

Image of the week

This "casualty" is part of the re-enactment of the Battle of Isandhlwana. The scrap, during the South African Zulu war of 1879, was the British Army's greatest defeat to date at the hands of native warriors. Mind how you go, Peter.

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