DUTCH academics writing in the Journal Of Applied Social Psychology say that idle chat can have a positive effect in society.

Gossip enables people to warn each other against those who behave badly.

How different our world might have been if some neighbours in the Garden of Eden housing estate had kept an eye on Eve. Being seduced by that snake next door. A right bad apple. No wonder her and Adam got evicted from Paradise. Mark my words, their boy Cain will come to no good.

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Some other women in history who set tongues wagging-

Cleopatra. There's no Roman general safe with her about the place. And there's definitely something going on with the milkman, that's a lot of asses' milk she gets delivered. Her shenanigans are bound to come back to bite her. Mind you, she had a lot to put up with, her daddy also being her uncle and her mammy her auntie. What a family the Ptolomys are. Not even proper Egyptians, immigrants from Greece.

That Lucrezia Borgia? Pure poison with the drink so she is. And her faither a pope as well.

Marie Antoinette. It's a dead liberté. The rest of us putting up with austerité but there's nae egalité while she's living high off the hog up at Versailles. She's fair upset the folk without bread by saying just bake a cake. These Bourbons take the biscuit. Madame Defarge says Marie Antoinette really rips her knitting.

Many men in history might have had their evil ways reined in by some constructive gossiping – Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero. But we have room only for the boy Adolf Schicklgruber, whose neighbours said what a natural leader he was. Organising his wee pals into armies. But they worried about his talk of changing his name and invading Poland when he grew up.