Jo Brand's week

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
If you haven't planned your holidays yet, I would suggest maybe you try and avoid somewhere where there are British squaddies, as they don't seem to be able to behave themselves when soaked in the amber nectar. A recent brawl at a bar in Cyprus resulted in a British soldier being shot. (One less brawler to deal with, I suppose). The owner of the bar in which the brawl took place, ironically, is English, but quite rightly disowned her fellow citizens in a statement in which she said she felt ashamed. Brawls in Cyprus between local youths and squaddies are frequent. Maybe they've got too much energy, maybe they're bored or maybe the sort of bloke the army attracts is just a troublesome moron. Whichever it is, very few efforts seem to have been made to sort it out. Perhaps the officers just see it as an occupational hazard of training our boys (and children many of them are) to keep the peace, only to find they're the ones disturbing it. The only positive and rather unhelpful thing I can say about it is at least they are not over here.

A sample question in the GNVQ science exam asks examinees to identify a bird "obtaining nutrients" and offers four pictures - a bird holding a twig, eating a worm, preening itself and relieving itself. This exam is for 16-year-olds. This very difficult question only applies to potential rocket scientists, obviously. Even the tabloids with a reading age of nine aren't going to last long by the looks of it.

One always imagines Scandinavia as a bastion of liberal values, with tasteful porn, prisons like palaces, healthy Aryan youth, creches for all and extreme cleanliness. So it was bit of a shock to discover that between all the saunas, smorgasbord and snow, bike gangs are slugging it out like true Californians. A war between Hells Angels and Bandidos looks set to claim more victims as it gets out of hand. Not only are they shooting at each other, but they are also leaving bombs under cars, which seems more in keeping with their pillaging ancestors, who all looked like Kirk Douglas and wouldn't flinch if an eagle pecked their eyes out. Then you discover that these bike boys are taking their orders from parent organisations in America, where these gangs are geographically too far apart to bother rucking with each other. But in little old Europe, of course, they don't have to make too much effort to come together. What a horrible thought - bike boys come to Europe. Shampoo sales look set to plummet.

I wouldn't hold out too much hope for the Russian soldiers who got drunk and sold a tank and an armoured combat vehicle to Chechen rebels. In times of strife, I suppose it is reassuring to know that there can be a dialogue between sworn enemies. After all, in the First World War, soldiers from both sides stopped fighting and had a game of football outside the trenches. In this day and age, it seems they are prepared to be friendly - if they're making something out of it. Three cheers for capitalism.

It was reassuring to hear John Major's reasoned argument against the European Union's attempt to set a 48-hour limit to the working week. It's stupid, apparently.

Of course it's stupid, if you put competition above everything else. Then again, so are attempts to protect employees' health, safety and rights at work. British employees work the longest hours in Europe, with nearly a third of men working full time doing more than 48 hours a week. No wonder everyone I speak to is always knackered. Maybe we're all stupid to have put up with it for so long.

A holiday boss in Amsterdam has set up a business sending postcards from exotic locations so people can impress their friends. I find it difficult to believe people are that shallow. If you have friends who would be impressed because you've had a flash holiday, I'd change your friends. Then there is the small problem of having to discuss the non-existent holiday with your friends when you "get back". No doubt this bloke will provide fact- sheets, so you can breeze through conversation about your "holiday" with ease. No worries about the actual contents of the postcard, I suppose. The likelihood of anyone British writing anything interesting on a postcard is zilch.

The Queen has been accused of making a racist remark about the premier of Papua New Guinea by the writer Paul Theroux, who in return is accused of breaking royal protocol to report it. I'm glad he did. The fact that the Queen is using childish colonial words like "fuzzy wuzzy" is an eye- opener. She must have picked up the habit from Prince Philip.

I see a woman was fined pounds 400 this week for lighting up on a non-smoking flight. Kind of takes away the savings you make at duty free, doesn't it? As a smoker, I would not encourage people to break the law, but I have a few suggestions for airlines that have banned smoking out of the blue on long-haul flights. First of all, you could stop selling cigarettes if we cannot use them. Secondly, you could let people know in advance that the flight is non-smoking instead of breaking the cheery news as they check in.

Thirdly, you can expect a bit of a mass (albeit wheezing) exodus on to Japan Airlines, who still have sympathy for us. I'm off to Australia in April and they're about the only buggers who will still let you have a snout. Sayonara.

Comments