jo brand's week
Saturday 15 February 1997
The first all-women expedition is about to set off for the North Pole after several months of gruelling training. I can think of many, many things I would rather do than months of gruelling training, let alone the actual expedition. Unfortunately, British expeditions through big snow don't have a great history, Captain Scott having been pipped at the post by the Norwegians at the South Pole and poor old Sir Ranulph Fiennes suffering first off from too much snow and then frost-bite. The expedition is sponsored by Penguin, the chocolate bar people, and I suppose chocolate is more appropriate than, say, hairspray or lingerie. The women are taking 7,000 Penguins with them ... a mere coffee break for some of us. I think these women will stick together. I can't see any of this "I may be gone some time" business happening. It's refreshing to see women getting their teeth into traditionally male pursuits and, if this continues, the accumulation of female achievements will impress men shortly before hell freezes over.
The French town of Vitrolles near Marseilles now has a National Front mayor, Catherine Megret, who looks set to try and leave her mark by continuing the self-righteous discrimination of her party. Most of the prejudice is directed towards those of North African descent, many of whom were actually born in France. This legitimised racism, to me, has nothing to do with the concept of what the NF seems to think are white civil liberties, because, by its very nature, it impinges upon the civil liberties of others. The film footage of a load of smug, middle-aged French people cheering the result of the vote made me angry, but not as angry as I feel about the corruption of the previous socialist mayor whose shenanigans created this situation to a great extent. How you can vote for the socialists and then change your vote next time round to the National Front, I do not know; but it seems many voters can and do manage it. Let's just hope the new mayor of Vitrolles is even more corrupt than the socialists.
I was very sad to hear of the death of Brian Connolly of The Sweet, who was an integral part of my teenage years; I remember many a sweaty night jumping up and down to the strains of Blockbuster. They did actually appear at our local nightclub in Hastings, a most unpleasant beery dive known as The Aquarius. I didn't actually make it but I do remember a girl from our school boasting that she had got into the dressing room and indulged in some very unladylike behaviour with him. Everyone seemed very impressed by this and since that day, whenever I saw or thought about Brian, I couldn't avoid picturing him in a compromising position with Sally Taylor (name changed).
So this week we finally got to see what the land mine controversy was all about with a documentary/ video diary of Diana's trip to Angola. She seemed to divide her time between giggling and shooing intrusive photographers away. I'm afraid I couldn't take the programme seriously. This woman is a Sloane through and through, and any amount of serious dressing-down for the occasion cannot disguise the fact that she is more at home shopping than trying to be Queen of our Hearts. Perhaps the public will fall for this and love her, while Fergie blunders her way round America cashing in and Camilla stares despairingly into the mirror. In the end though, they are all just posh rich women supporting a system of inherited wealth that is unfair and exploitative. They are therefore interchangeable and we should spend no more time attempting to assess which one is better than the other.
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