No nudes is good news Brad nude is not news

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Oor sympathies are with the US judge who has shut himself away to study a claim that photographs of Brad Pitt without clothes are not news. The photographs, of Pitt and his ex-girlfriend frolicking in the Caribbean two years ago, appear in the current issue of Playgirl magazine, sales of which are prohibited while the judge thinks. Pitt's lawyers have given the judge much to think about, arguing last Tuesday that: "there is no newsworthiness to these photos. It was simply an attempt to use them to make money."

Nude pictures just to make money? Surely not. Thank goodness we're not in America. None the less let's pray that no British judge is persuaded by this high-minded argument. It could leave newspapers in some difficulties in these the "silly" weeks when serious news of foreign secretaries, binliners and parking meters runs low.

What, for example, would the judge make of a picture of Liz Hurley in a see-through dress, printed in the Sun on Tuesday and apparently so newsworthy that the paper ran it again on Thursday? Miss Hurley, we read, leads a quiet life, rarely leaving the house of an evening: "It's all jeans and T-shirts and falling asleep at the dinner table. Those photographs of me in designer dresses are from the only times I go out." Naturally, being unavailable to the massed ranks of the press in between these outings, the same picture gets shown again and again, and she gets an unfair reputation. So how does she really spend her time? Mainly, it appears, worrying about her bottom, which, she laments, is like a boy's. We don't need to take her word for it, though. Thanks to the Sun's photographers, diligently present at each rare sighting, we were able to see a variety of pictures of the said disappointing rear.

Not that Miss Hurley is alone among women in worrying about her shape. According to Tuesday's Sun, lottery winners Nicky Clift and Lynsey Stafford "want a Lott More on Top" and plan to buy "identical boob jobs". (Identical? Why?) "Now I can afford the best breasts that money can buy," said one of them. Apparently men were nudging each other in the street and laughing at the two women, the way men do. It was ruining their lives.

But it was the lottery itself that appeared to have ruined the lives of two other recent winners. On Tuesday we learnt in the Mirror that newlyweds Joanne and Nick Restall (whose win funded a pounds 54,000 wedding eight weeks ago) had split up under the strain of their pounds 3.6m share of a jackpot. The story proved low on staying power, though, since the mother of the groom, questioned by the Mirror's reporter, said: "I spoke to him today and he didn't mention anything." By Wednesday the couple had had a four- hour chat. The marriage looked like being saved.

And indeed, the institution of marriage also appears to have been saved, though how saved depended on the newspaper reporting the latest Office for National Statistics figures on the state of the family. "Changed but going strong", according to the Guardian; "Wedded to traditional values on family life", according to the Mail, which was odd comfort for that paper to find in statistics showing that four out of 10 marriages are expected to end in divorce and that a third of all births last year were outside marriage.

Probably not to horseriders, though, since a widely covered Gallop! poll - a magazine, not the political pollsters - found that 90 per cent of women riders would rather have a new horse than a baby, and that more than half of all riders would rather tell their problems to their horses than their partners. It gets better (or worse, depending whether you're a horse or a groom); 50 per cent of horseriders would not be able to choose between their partner or their horse, while 25 per cent were quite clear that the horse would win.

It makes you wonder whether the ONS asks the right questions. The Express, for example, ran the results of a survey carried out by Bella magazine, showing that of 1,000 men questioned one-third admitted they had banned the woman in their life from travelling on a business trip or going to a party or nightclub alone. No self-respecting horse would be so insecure.

News in several papers this week of the whereabouts of the recently lamented single man: he's alive and well and living with mother. In 1996, one in nine 30- to 34-year-olds chose not to leave the nest - compared to one in 11 in 1991, while nearly one in four 25- to 29-year-old men were living with their parents last year, compared to one in five in 1991. This increase, being a "first since records began", is newsworthy in any season. But what can it mean?

Barbara Gunnell

Creevey is not in Tuscany but taking a parliamentary break.

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