In a slew of front-page articles and leaders, Ms Brown was berated until she recanted. Even Jeremy Paxman got in on the act, citing stray and eccentric examples of abandoned nativity plays as if they were evidence of creeping collective brain-rot. I am something of an enthusiast for shoving Shakespeare down small children's throats, and I think Jane Brown was wrong. But not, I think, so wrong as to merit national newspaper leader articles.
Ms Brown seemed to confirm something that the press wants to believe - as indeed did Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park. His new, and equally implausible, novel, Disclosures, is not, whatever the publicity may suggest, a ground-breaking scientific study of gender relations. It revolves around a female executive who more or less rapes an employee, and then files a sexual harassment suit against him.
This has prompted earnest discussions in several newspapers along the lines of 'Do women really harass?' and 'Are men now guilty until proven innocent?'.
No real person could ever have as many earnest discussions about CD-Roms as Crichton's characters, and no remotely serious female chief executive would spend the first evening in the job sprawling on the desk with some passing bloke. But the anti-PC brigade seizes on whatever tenuous excuse it can to air its view that PC Is Always Wrong, and, as John Patten explained on Newsnight, that there is nothing wrong with calling people Little Black Sambo - indeed, not to do so would impoverish the language.
Anti-PC diatribes like Crichton's are highly lucrative: Katie Roiphe's publishers have brought her from the United States for a nationwide tour to publicise her book about the myth of date rape; Crichton will no doubt make another few million. I am wondering, meanwhile, when the backlash against the backlash is going to start, so that I can make some money from my planned tale of a Sun reporter who falls in love with a lesbian rape crisis counsellor and devotes the rest of his life to campaigning against people who dismiss large sections of the population as little black sambos.
Right now though I just don't think the papers and Newsnight would take it up. For some reason it wouldn't be considered very sexy.
MICHAEL PORTILLO will, I suppose, mark me down as infected by his New British Disease of whingeing about our national institutions and denigrating everything that makes Britain great. But I can't help it: I just don't think ice dancing is that interesting.
Torvill and Dean are elegant and synchronised, and yes, they should have won the free dance, but what is the point of going on to the ice and not jumping? Ice skating is thrilling to watch principally because you know that at any moment the fluid athleticism might become an inelegant slither on the bottom. But only at the very end of 'Let's Face the Music and Dance', when Jayne pretends momentarily to spin out of control, does it cross your mind that she and Chris might fall. This is not only because they're super-proficient; it's also because the rules of ice dancing are so restrictive. He can't lift her above his waist, and they're not allowed to do anything more daring in the jumping department than a few pathetic little skips. Compare this with the heart-in-the-mouth sensations to be had from watching the pairs champions executing their awesome triple toe salchows, double axels and overhead lifts. But Gordeeva and Grinkov are Russian, so I'll shut up.
THE builders have finally moved out. For four months my life has been dominated by such pressing questions as whether to have a gas hob or electric, or four prongs on my taps instead of five. And though the house now looks very nice, I doubt that anyone will ever appreciate quite what efforts went into deciding on white door handles rather than brass, or matt tiles instead of gloss.
It was all so different for my parents, first-generation home improvers, who felt able to talk openly about their new hi-fi units, for whom whole friendships were constructed around discussions about ripping out fireplaces. When I was 15 I thought this was repulsive - having people round for gin and bitter lemon and talking about what to do with the through-room. And even now I am not sure I can seriously bring myself to talk about my terracotta floor tiles. On the other hand, I'm not sure I can stop myself: it would be such a shame if people didn't notice.
THANK YOU to all the people who have written with advice on how to get in touch with my theta waves, the things that supposedly flood your brain when you look at posters covered with coloured dots and squiggles, so inducing startling 3-D visions. Suggestions included kneeling on the floor, or putting my nose against the picture, or putting the poster behind glass. I am pleased to say that this last one worked, and I have now seen into Deep Space. It was reasonably interesting, although I am inclined to agree with Adrian Bowker, one of the four young people who make up Altered States, the only British company manufacturing the posters (properly called autostereograms), that unless there are dramatic improvements in the technology, they are liable to be an 18-month wonder.
Adrian tried to explain how they are created but I am afraid I quickly got lost - though theta waves don't seem to have much to do with anything. Bacardi is using the technology for an ad on bus shelters, but I can't see it at all.Reuse content