The Week in Review: Home News

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The Independent Online
CHRISTMAS cheer was seldom in evidence during a week in which the IRA bombed shoppers in Oxford Street in London and when unemployment continued to rise in a consistently depressed economy.

The IRA was accused by police of playing 'an obscene game' when bombs went off in a lavatory in a John Lewis store and, as it was being evacuated, in a dustbin in Cavendish Square nearby, injuring four people.

Terrorists made three telephone warnings saying there was just one bomb. When asked for its location, one of the callers replied: 'That's for you to find out.'

Tentative predictions of a recovery turned out to be humbug when unemployment figures revealed an unexpected rise of 41,100, taking the total to 2.8 million. Among those whose Christmas was blighted were workers at Ford, where 5,000 face redundancy, IBM, where up to 1,000 of 15,000 staff will have to go, and BP, which plans to shed 8,000 jobs internationally, including an unspecified number in the UK.

Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, did provide a glimmer of hope for those hit by the recession by unveiling the Government's plans for a national lottery to raise cash for sport, the arts and charities. Up to pounds 14m a week would be given away in prizes, he said, 'creating millionaires and museums'.

But the pools companies were not impressed. Malcolm Hughes, managing director of Vernons, said the launch of the pounds 1 lottery was 'unpardonable' and predicted it would cost up to 6,500 jobs.

One man resting from his job was the Right Rev Peter Ball, the Bishop of Gloucester, who was arrested by police investigating allegations of indecent behaviour. Police and Church officials refused to confirm press reports that the complainant, who walked into Brixton police station in south London to report an alleged offence, was a 17-year- old trainee monk.

Also resting from his job - permanently - was Iain Burgess, 55, who was sacked as Father Christmas at a store in Kingston, Surrey, for telling staff that he had drunk six pints of beer during his lunch break. He is suing Bentalls department store for unfair dismissal, claiming he was simply joking about having a drink. The Sun reported the store as saying he was 'ho- ho-hopelessly drunk'.

Drunkenness was once a reason put forward for the outrageous and often disgusting behaviour of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Scholars have wrestled with the paradox of how a man who wrote such sublime music could also have been the author of lyrics - subsequently censored by his wife - that read 'lick my arse, quickly, quickly'. The composer was known for his sudden outbursts of obscenities and apparent fixation with all things anal.

But researchers in America announced that they believe his behavior was due to Tourette's syndrome, a personality defect that causes vocal nervous tics and involuntary bouts of obscene language.

Mozart might have approved of the informal description used by doctors: incontinence of the emotions.