MAKE no mistake, our world is an awesome place.

One Oxford restaurant is advertising for ‘an awesome chef’, while a George Street coffee bar promises that after extensive alterations are completed early next year, patrons will find it ‘awesome’ – in capital letters.

Fellow pantomime fans at the Playhouse recorded in the comments book that Aladdin was ‘awesome’, while later the same afternoon the sight of four teenage girls in Broad Street, all sporting long plaits, was declared ‘awesome’ by a lad of about the same age. Yesterday, an elderly grandfather inspected the extensive range of ice creams in a Cowley Road gelato, whooped with delight before confessing his self-indulgence would be ‘awesome’.

It would be fair to assume that when the Christmas show, Annie, opens at the New Theatre next week, press officer Stephanie Tye will search for superlatives. I’m confident her many years in journalism will steer her to a more fitting adjective. Let’s face it, awesome means everything and nothing.

Why do we allow inferior American usage to pollute our far-superior vocabulary?

ON the subject of plaits, their renewed popularity takes me back to junior school days.

One girl, a teacher-creeping sneak, reported Grahame Walker and me for singing questionable words to the traditional song, Strawberry Fair. We were dealt with severely by a humourless music mistress.

Revenge was achieved by passing her plaits through the school railings and tying them in a reef knot. We released her after a couple of minutes. To our surprise she did not ‘snitch’ this time.

Severe? I suppose so. My weak excuse is we were only eight!

Footnote: She was known unkindly as ‘Squinty’ Whittaker’ because of a temporary eye condition. This was corrected and by the age of 20 she was a raving beauty with suitors none of us could match.

I wonder if her plaits have made a comeback.

IT’S Christmas showtime for schools again and I went to one at a grandson’s school. As ever, the first year children triumphed with their chaotic Nativity play. They turn a solemn event into a riot, leaving audiences aching with laughter.

This year the tiny girl playing Mary stole the show. If the original Virgin had been like her, Christianity would never have taken off. Bossy? No one escaped her on-stage directing. A reincarnation of the late Maggie Thatcher. We all loved it.

FINALLY Peggy Barson, for more than seven decades ticket office diva at the New Theatre, has done it again. She has once more baked a stack of her legendary mince pies for the staff at their pre-Christmas celebrations. Peggy is 95.