DIARY

Dr Ruth on sex and the sabbath

Dr Ruth Westheimer, the New York University professor best known for doling out sex therapy with lashings of chutzpah on her television show (below), has turned her attention to the Jewish sabbath. It is, she tells the forthcoming edition of the Jewish Quarterly magazine, "by design a deeply erotic experience."

For those who may have missed this association over the past few thousand years, she explains: "Making love on Friday night is a specific celebration of the unity of God's masculine and feminine aspects.... Almost every custom of the Jewish sabbath observance facilitates our goal of lighting each other's fire and becoming entwined.... The lovers dine by candlelight. The meal begins with the sharing of wine ... When they are ready to go to bed, the lovers almost can't help but do so in a highly seductive and seduceable state of mind."

Dinner by candlelight, hands touching over the sabbath bread; how unromantic of Dr Ruth's female interviewer to interject: "I don't quite see how Sabbath can be erotic. On Friday night, I see a very tired Jewish woman."

Perhaps that tired woman has been taking Dr Ruth's philosophy to heart.

Lightweight approach to crime policy

As the editor of the Guardian has endeavoured to repair that newspaper's reputation for misprints, I must assume that its report yesterday of the Lib Dems' spring conference is accurate, and we can expect an Orwellian police state if Paddy Ashdown comes to power. Those weighing in under 10 stone will be afraid to walk the streets in daylight hours. What other construction can I put on the report of Mr Ashdown's speech, where he pledges to reverse the new left's policies, which "punish the thinner but ignore the thin".

It's over Down Under

Poor Jack Cunningham, Labour's shadow heritage secretary, is having to burn the midnight oil rewriting the rewrite of his party's arts manifesto. The first rewrite occurred after his leader Tony Blair visited Australia and was much taken with the then Prime Minister, Paul Keating's 101-page policy for cultural regeneration, Creative Nation. This could be one of Labour's big ideas for the next election, Mr Blair told his team. And so Mr Cunningham set about beefing up the party's arts policy. Now that Australia's voters, with barely a thought for Mr Blair or Mr Cunningham, have swept Mr Keating (above) from office, our own Labour Party has decided that a policy associated with yesterday's man might not be such a good idea.

A heavenly way to go, pop-pickers ...

I doubt that Led Zeppelin intended the title of their classic rock song "Stairway To Heaven" to be taken quite as literally as the disc jockey Alan Freeman seems to have taken it. Sixty-eight-year-old Freeman, just two years away from being radio's first septuagenarian pop broadcaster, told BBC's Pebble Mill how he would like to make his final broadcast.

"I would like to think I can go on perhaps for another couple of years, and possibly have a fatal heart attack and go just like that, while I'm playing "Stairway To Heaven". I think that would be wonderful."

Unfortunately, fate has a habit of not granting us our dearest wishes. Beware a coronary mid-way between Kylie Minogue and the weather report.

Screening out violence

Among the welter of "violence in society" articles that have followed Dunblane, I was interested to see Andrew Neil in the Sunday Times sounding off against violent films on television. He writes: "The violence on British television is less graphic than in the cinema, though the Hollywood `splatter movies' shown at night on satellite television are a disgrace that no self-respecting adults should watch, much less let their children near."

Quite. I urge that he takes the matter up with the founding chief executive of Sky TV, Mr Andrew Neil.

Unhealthy eating

This sign spotted outside a charcuterie in Brussels may not help your appetite: "Buy British Beef here and you won't get better."

Eagle Eye

Trusty and his magical mushroom

This is Trusty the Hedgehog, the new children's character created by the National Trust as a mascot for its young members and the 500,000 children who visit Trust properties each year. Trusty and his equally trusty mushroom (pictured above) will appear in the young members' newsletter, on stickers, postcards and a special letterhead. Trusty and his mushroom will also appear on merchandising ranging from mugs and key rings to frisbees. But how trusty is Trusty's trusty mushroom? Not the best mascot for young minds I'm afraid. My mushroom expert tells me that the one Trusty is clutching is a fly agaric, well known for its toxic and hallucinogenic properties. A National Trust spokesman agreed last night that they had picked an "unfortunate mushroom" and they would have to change the picture. Meanwhile, if you see hordes of spaced out 10-year-olds gazing at stately homes and muttering "beautiful", you'll know why.

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