Jo Brand's week

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Mental illness has for many years been the subject of jokes, from inaccurate gags about schizophrenics having split personalities, to people in mental hospitals throwing bricks at retreating visitors' heads. Things are gradually changing, though, and these days, in polite and intelligent society, most people have the good grace, even if not as politically correct as they could be, at least to do those jokes in the privacy of their own homes. Not so good old Nike, who, it seems, will do almost anything to sell their shoes. One of their recent ads bears the words, "Agoraphobic? Shame" (ie, you can't go out in our shoes). If you are not an agoraphobic, you might think this is fairly harmless, but anyone who has knowledge of this debilitating illness will think, like I did, that it is a completely facile and unwarranted use by Nike of what is a very distressing condition, to make money. What's next from caring Nike? "Feet shot off in Bosnia?" Shame. It's really no surprise to discover that children in America are killing each other for a decent pair of trainers. Sounds like the advertisers will do almost anything to sell them.

Members of the anarchic circus "Archaos," which replaces clowns and jelly throwing with chainsaws and motorbikes, are a bit miffed, because Lambeth councillors who travelled to see it in France have banned a naked man from appearing in the show. From an aesthetic point of view, I am in total agreement with them, as the male equipment is not a joyous thing to look upon. However, it seems naked women are appearing in the show and although their bits are somewhat more easy on the eye, it does seem unfair not to allow the bloke to let it all hang out too. Lambeth councillors have suggested the man in question wears a body stocking, which would give him the appearance of Mr NoGenitals himself, Action Man. I remember as a child playing with my brother's Action Man and assuming he must have had some terrible sort of accident. It does seem a bit silly of us to go on pretending these appendages don't exist. It is a lot less harmful, I think, for spectators to glimpse a flash of John Thomas rather than risk a collision with a flying chainsaw. Come to think of it, perhaps Mr Naked might benefit from having his jewels hidden after all.

Liz Taylor is holding a fundraising dinner for her Aids charity and privileged guests will be paying $2,500 each to attend. At that money, it's not going to be prawn cocktail and Black Forest Gateau is it? I often wonder how much is spent on dinner and how much goes to the charities in these cases. Liz Taylor has just got so much money, l wonder whether it is worth going to the hassle of all that cooking to raise money when she could just bung a cheque in herself. Maybe I'm being naive...

Having visited Australia and seen that almost anything that hops around is on the menu, I wasn't particularly surprised to find that in Argentina, cat is considered a tasty morsel. The President, Carlos Menem, was not quite so happy, as the information that moggy is dish of the day was delivered via a documentary about the slums of Rosario, Argentina's second city. Mr Menem believes that showing his citizens consuming cat has besmirched Argentina's national image. I take it it has not occurred to him that in a country which exports copious amounts of beef and grain, what besmirches the national image is that some Argentinians are so poor and desperate that they have to eat cat. According to Mr Menem, the media had paid the poor to grill the cats. Now who would you believe?

The belief of certain individuals in their own talent can be quite overwhelming at times, as heard once on Desert Island Discs when a certain soprano chose herself singing eight times over. I now hear from a friend that Edwina Currie is due to visit their area to read her favourite literary extracts. Yep, you've guessed it, they're all from her very own golden pen. Maybe it's tongue in cheek and we should give her the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand ...

One gets the feeling sometimes that absolutely no one in the world knows anything about the causes of cancer. As theories arrive, scares get going and then fade away to be replaced by the latest offering. According to the Italians, it is now starchy food like pasta and potatoes that are linked to breast cancer. Strange, I'd just managed to get used to consuming a fair bit of boring old pasta because I'm sure someone said it was good for me. (Although how I think it will counteract the thousands of fags, no exercise, beer and chocolate, I haven't quite worked out yet.) I also found myself faced with a headline the other day informing me that passive smoking doesn't cause cancer. Perhaps now I can come in from the numerous gardens I've been banished to to consume the dreaded weed. Maybe it's about time scientists said something like, "Well, I'm not absolutely sure, but probably, don't take my word for it guv'nor ...", instead of constantly sounding so bloody sure of themselves just because they stood near a test tube once. From now on, I'm going to take everything our white-coated chums say with a pinch of salt. Still, too much of that is bad for you, so I hear.

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