jo brand's week

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Henley-on-Thames has never really attracted me as a venue for a day out, saddled as it is with that Hooray Henry image. So it was not a big surprise to discover that the rowing club there was not open to women, and had not been so for the last 200 years. However, this has all changed and the array of colonel types on the selection committee have done an about-turn and decided to admit women. In these days of the UK Men's Movement and new lads, it is so refreshing to see that a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool old misogynists has finally seen the light. If only! What actually happened was that open membership was a key condition of a sizeable potential grant from the lottery. If only we women had known this years ago, we needn't have fought for equal rights - all we had to do was just give them a cheque. Money can't buy love, but it sure can get a load of duffers to throw open the doors of male preserves.

The indignity of the aging process in a country that worships youth is played out in so many different arenas, sport perhaps being one of the cruellest. Last week, Peter Shilton, the ex-England goalkeeper who has been playing at Orient, was given his cards because he cannot kick the ball far enough. Well, pardon me for my girlie ignorance, but I always thought it was more important to stop the ball going in that net thing. Poor old Shilton - his humiliation is there for all to see and he will not be the last to be shoved out.

Last weekend, I was in Norway for a comedy festival in Stavanger, a coastal town heavily involved in the oil business, thus attracting a selection of people from all over the world. Norwegians speak very good English and had very little trouble understanding what I was saying. In fact, so enthusiastic did they seem to be for my appearance that when I trundled on stage, they gave my boots a separate round of applause. So will this arrangement be reciprocated with a group of Norwegian comics coming to England to perform their acts in their native tongue? What do you think?

I began my 30-date tour in Portsmouth this week. First nights are always a little bit scary, what with bits of new material as yet fairly untested, a certain rustiness as far as big venues are concerned and a certain unpredictability about the audience. It came as a shock on Tuesday night when I was chatting away to the audience and asking them what was good about Portsmouth, that someone shouted out "It's nigger free." Having informed the heckler that he was obviously at the wrong show, I carried on. A message to anyone holding these sorts of opinions who has tickets to any of my shows - don't come.

There seems to be a crime wave at the moment engulfing the group known as "the super rich". Numerous lords, ladies, heiresses and millionaire types have been robbed of their jewellery and the like. Much as I abhor violence, I have to say I would much rather criminals robbed the super- rich, who can afford it, rather than ordinary people, who cannot. Flaunting one's wealth in a country in which, during the reign of the Tories, the number of people below the poverty line went from three million to 13 million can only make poor people angry. The haves cannot blame the have- nots for coveting their oxen.

Refreshing to see over-privileged posh sporty blokes getting their comeuppance. This week, an elite Cambridge University drinking club got a severe wrist- slap after a debacle at a party in a hotel during which male students vomited (aren't they just so predictable when they've had a drink?), wrecked furniture and sexually harassed waitresses. This club, (surprise, surprise) excludes women and the event, it would seem, reflects the behaviour of sporting students the country over. It seems a shame that in many cases, physical prowess inevitably means yobbishness and out-of-control behaviour. Let's do our best to prevent these boys becoming part of the ruling elite; you can be sure that among the vomit and broken tables were a couple of potential Tory MPs.

Following the sentencing this week of the "boys" who raped the Austrian tourist, it's perhaps time to reassess our attitude towards adolescents who carry out this sort of appalling crime. To all intents and purposes, that attack was made a group of men; it was made all the more frightening by the fact that kids that age will do almost anything that the peer group demands for fear of looking foolish. Having had one or two run-ins myself with groups of boy-men, I think that it is time we realised they are a dangerous group who are getting physically stronger and much less easier to control as each year passes.

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