YOU might like to be reminded that your taxes pay for the work of the Family Planning Association which has just produced a sex education booklet for children from the age of nine.

Part of the "education" in this sixteen page booklet is advice on techniques of masturbation. Initially, the booklet is being sent to 4,000 schools. Please don't run away with the idea that the recommendations in this book are restricted to the practice of solitary sex. The booklet also tells the pre-teens that homosexuality is as acceptable as straight sex.

Readers of The Northern Echo might think this is a good thing. I don't know. I haven't conducted an opinion poll. But I confess to seeing dangerous contradictions in our attitude towards sex and children. Everyone - or perhaps I should say nearly everyone - deplores the activities of paedophiles. And the evil of paedophilia is that it introduces children to sex before the proper time. And now we have a government-funded charity producing booklets which sexualise children at an age which is far too early. The FPA craves more sex education as a vampire cries out for more blood. But the reality is we've never had so much sex education and never so many unwanted teenage pregnancies. I'd just like to know if readers are happy about this?

A GREAT favourite with all children up to the age of 90 was the TV series, Dr Who. It's good to know that the BBC is to bring back The Doctor. The scriptwriter will be Russell T Davies, who wrote a Channel Four drama about gay men. I just wonder if in the new series the good Doctor will wear an earring and play his Doris Day records loud enough for all the galaxy to hear. Or as someone said the other day, you can just hear him calling out: "There's an awful draught, lovey. Shut that Tardis door!"

I THINK it is mean and unjust of the Government to pass a bill to deprive criminal toffs of their peerages. Surely a man who has done his porridge - whether he's a beggar or a prince - has paid his debt to society and should suffer no further deprivation? It's said that they made the law to get revenge on Jeffrey Archer. But Jeffrey has been doing some good in prison by helping inmates to read and write. One thing worries me though, for Jeffrey's sake: he said the other day that no prisoner should be released until he can write. At that rate poor old Jeff would be in clink forever.

YOU get used to celebs saying stuff that's just plain daft, but I think recent remarks by Sven Goran Eriksson have raised daftness to the level of an art form. He wants to help spread world peace through the gospel of football. Has Sven been heading the ball too much in training, or what? Football and peace go together about as peacefully as cats and mice. If football encourages peace and tranquillity, why is Sven telling people to avoid the Turkey-England game rather than urging us to go and watch it?

It's time that we all faced up to the fact that League and international football is one of the most vicious pastimes known to man. We see evidence every week in tackles so foul they can destroy a player's career. Come off it Sven, take up something really peaceful like bare-knuckle boxing.

* Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange