Say goodbye to Tufty the Squirrel. It has come to my attention that road safety adverts for children — which have been on TV one way or another since the 1960s — are being axed. Budgets at the Department of Transport have been reprioritised, a usage which has surely caused Orwell to spin in his grave. We’re all in this together, you’ll recall. Particularly those of us whose heads are near bumper height.
Although, now I think about it, a squirrel was in no place to offer road-crossing advice. How many times have you seen a flattened squirrel on the road? I see at least one a week, which implies that far too few of them have been looking both ways and checking for hazards.
But since the Department of Transport has decided that the next generation can take their chances, I would like to provide this handy guide to road crossing at any age.
The Germans are brilliant at creating compound nouns, like Blitzkreig (lightning-war): smashing one word into another to make a whole new one which derives extra impact from its formation. So it seems right to applaud any chance for them to create another. And the plight of former education minister Annette Schavan is just such an opportunity. Ms Schavan has had to resign from her post, after being stripped of her doctorate last week by Heinrich Heine University, which has alleged that she plagiarised her thesis, 33 years ago.
For the education minister – who oversees universities amongst other duties - to resign in such circumstances, is so horribly apt that Schadenfreude (harm-joy) doesn’t really cover it. Surely no-one would take joy in her downfall, unless they were her political enemies. But a word needs to be coined to describe the ugly satisfaction one gets when something simultaneously so neat and nasty occurs. Schavan-freude? Anyone?