Taxi-drivers in Huairou, an hour's drive from Peking and the site of the unofficial bit of the UN Women's Conference, have been told to keep their rear-view mirrors trained on their passengers. This is in case any of the foreign women in the back seat turn out not to be delegates but prostitutes who "start to remove their clothes in the car". Still, they could be forgiven for their confusion over Western sexual ethics. At another of the recent big UN jamborees, speakers from one delegation made a ringing denunciation of pornography. An informant who hacked into their hotel computer informs me that the delegates concerned made liberal use of their pay-as-you-yearn satellite TV channel. And they were not watching the sport.
There's much jockeying, I hear, in the emergency aid department at the Overseas Development Administration over who should monitor the evacuation of the idyllic British dependency (the politically correct term for colony) of Montserrat, which is currently being threatened by a rumbling volcano. Disasters usually take place in unpleasant places like Somalia or Bosnia so trips to monitor them are a chore nobly undertaken, but everyone is keen to do their duty in the Caribbean.
Most of the population has been evacuated to the southern half of the island because, according to a US management-style analysis of the widely divergent scientific views, the volcano is 83 per cent likely to erupt. But not everyone can be moved there. The ODA has had to spend pounds 10,000 chartering a plane to move the island's 15 convicts - four have gone to the Cayman Islands and 11 to the Turks and Caicos. No mention of safaris, however.
Plans to move the island's hospital population are on hold largely because the patients are refusing to budge (the convicts had no say in the matter). Nonetheless, contingency plans are in hand. A hospital on a neighbouring island has offered to take them - but only if the ODA will stump up a couple of grand to open up a new room at the end of the ward. I think one of our men needs to fly out to check that one out.
I think I may have invented a new sociological index. I have been keeping an eye on the tri-weekly movements of places in the Official Ucas Course Guide which is taking up so many of this newspaper's pages these days. What does it tell us about modern Britain that you can now get a degree in Beauty Therapy, Bookbinding, Celtic, European Studies, Horse Studies, Leather Technology, Leisure Management, Leisure Studies, Podiatry (chiropody to you) and Tourism and Travel?
What on earth are Contemporary Studies (Univ College, Scarborough) Informatics, Mechatronics and Independent Study (a degree in newspaper reading)? What will there be left to rebel about or do in your spare time if you study Popular Culture or Youth Studies (perhaps these will be modular with Artificial Intelligence or Real Time Systems). More significantly, why have all the places in Education Management been snapped up (it was there on Day One and had disappeared yesterday), while there are plenty of places left in boring old Education proper? …