jo brand's week

Tuesday found me in Selfridges, having agreed to work there for two hours on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust. Selfridges was donating 10 per cent of takings for the evening. I have to confess these things are an ordeal. One has to steel oneself to be an exhibit and to be moved around as required. The usual gaggle of charming photographers had their imaginations working overtime in Santa's grotto as they suggested I drape myself seductively over Santa, who looked as unhappy about the idea as I did. The experience was eased to a great extent by the staff, who whisked me round and let me have the odd sneaky fag behind various displays (Thank you Tony, Paul, Penny and Mark). Other people off the telly were doing similar things ("Go on Jo, give 'im a kiss," as I passed Richard Wilson). But there's no doubt that doing some good does do you good. Everyone in Selfridges was in such a good mood that I can't imagine why they don't do it every day. Well, perhaps I can.

Sitting in a queue of traffic on the A40 out of London to Oxford is something I do quite a lot. At the traffic lights, various blokes ply their wares to disgruntled travellers sitting nose to tail. The other day my reverie was interrupted by someone shouting at me, "Oi, Jo!" I turned to see a lorry driver. "Oh Gawd, here we go," I thought - and then realised he was proffering a bunch of roses. With a cheery "Happy Christmas," he passed them to me. What a surprise, because I wasn't even wearing Impulse.

As the Mirror metamorphoses into The Sun, with just the lack of a pair of exposed mammaries to choose between them, it is depressing to realise that the vast majority of people in this country who purchase newspapers - and I use that term loosely - are being challenged intellectually only up to the age of nine. This presumably must be why women are concerned only about Tony Blair's barnet, why no one gives a toss about Europe and why supermodels' opinions on life are valued. The tabloids are a depressing indictment of contemporary British life ... Oh yeah, and they slag me off all the time too.

A company from America has taken over its first British prison, heralding, one would imagine, a bit of a rush by the Americans to sort out our criminal population, as if they hadn't got enough to do back home. Still, it's not really about that is it, silly me; it's about making profits on the backs of a section of the population many of whom started life without a hope. Not having a hope in England does put you in a slightly better position than not having a hope in America, where the size of the prison population is a testament to the desperation of people who have nothing in the richest society in the world. Still, an American ethos which is all but ingrained in this country anyway will ensure that the charmingly named Corrections Corporation of America will be able to drum up plenty of new business, l'm sure.

All those fitness-obsessed people who have tried to force relentless sporting activity down the throats of the rest of us must be very saddened this week to discover that research has shown that young types who take part in non-team sports such as aerobics and tennis are far more likely to become delinquents than those who don't. I have to confess having only been to aerobics once in my life, some 10 or so years ago, and it was the most hideous nightmare I have ever indulged in which seemed to me reminiscent of the atmosphere of those Hitler Youth mass exercises. At one point we had to do arm exercises to the extended version of "Free Nelson Mandela", and I found myself thinking after some minutes, "I wish they bloody would," if only to release us all from this torment. I never went back and I can say, with my poor limp hand on my heart, that since then I've not even indulged in the teeniest bit of shoplifting.

The ego of some people is breathtaking sometimes. I saw a little snippet of news this week about an Essex businessman who has recently paid pounds 80,000 to have a personalised number plate bearing his name, "Nigel". I cannot understand why you would want to drive round and demonstrate to the rest of the traffic on the road that you are prepared to spend a large fortune on attaching your own "I'm a bit of a big head" name to your vehicle. Spending that amount of money on a minor ego massage, when it could have gone to a million better places, seems obscene to me. l'd like to creep up his drive one night and replace it with a new number plate bearing the legend "Knobhead", for that is what he is.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

    £125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

    Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy