Friday March 12th - 18th, 2004                                                                                         YEAR XXXI - No. 1553

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CAFFINE TIGHTS - frantic legs on the 09.15?

AS FIVE SUSPECTED TERRORISTS held by the US military in Guantanamo Bay over the last two years flew into RAF Northolt this week, one could almost hear the squeak of palms rubbing together among the legal fraternity. The Guantanamo Five, after all, must be in for some heavy compensation. Found carrying arms among Taliban fighters on Afghan battlefields, it was clear, as one said, that he'd just popped over for a wedding. Another had got lost on the way to visit his granny. All five had apparently been misdirected on the way to Wapping, so how dare the paranoid American forces assume they were terrorists. 'Mon petite pois!' as Del Boy would say.

Britain is, naturally, equally guilty because we didn't send in the SAS to break them out of US custody and our anti-terrorist agents have had the effrontery to hold onto four for questioning at Paddington Green. That's got to be worth a few million, right? Yes, we'll pay up like the prats we are and never think of charging these people, who ran off from the UK to fight a war against British troops, with the treason that their cases so obviously merit. The compensation culture is big news in Britain, although I wouldn't have thought it worth two years of Big Macs and iced water in a military jail. Far easier to get your bum trapped in a council chair or suffer stressed joints from directing too much traffic.

COME TO THAT, you can gain fame and fortune by becoming a criminal and being asked onto TV reality shows. Such a celebrity is Lord 'Charlie' Brocket, whose only real claim to fame is being banged up for making dodgy insurance claims worth 3 million. Nonetheless, the dirty old peer was recently seen groping embarrassed Woman's Hour presenter and her producer Jill Burridge at a Channel 4 awards ceremony. Have standards dropped among the glitterati or what?

AH WELL, THE WORLD GOES ON. Scientists in Buffalo, New York, are clapping their hands in delight at having developed a butterfly with the eyes of a jellyfish (you didn't know jellyfish had eyes? Well, there you go). By introducing the jellyfish gene into the eggs of a bush brown butterfly researchers have fundamentally altered its genetic make up. It now has green eyes that glow in the dark. Is it important? Says study leader Dr Antonia Monteiro, "This ability to manipulate a butterfly genome will greatly enhance our understanding of how butterfly colour patterns develop." Frankly I can't wait.

AND FINALLY - a leading European lingerie company has come up with tights laced with caffeine that are guaranteed to slim your thighs. The idea is the gradual release of the drug through the skin speeds up the metabolism and burns off calories. Stand by for hyperactive thighs breaking into a paso doble on the 9.15 to Waterloo. I suppose if you've run out of steam by Orpington, you could always head for the buffet car and pour a cup of Nescafe down your knickers.