jo brand's week

Jeremy Irons has threatened to leave the country if no distributor is found for the version of Lolita in which he stars. The problem with making threats like these is that they sound rather petulant. I'm sure if I threatened to leave the country, very few people would give a toss apart from family and a few friends and maybe the local newsagent where I buy my cigarettes. You eventually learn that however important you think you might be, nobody is indispensable. With that attitude, perhaps Mr Irons might like to consider the possibility of threatening to stay here instead. That may well piss more people off.

Tony Blair's musical taste has been much in evidence in the past few weeks following his appearance on Desert Island Discs and he now pops up in the Christmas issue of New Musical Express with his 10 top singles of the year. I have often thought that one of the drawbacks of having children is being forced to listen to their unformed musical tastes, particularly when they are under the age of 12. Obviously, Mr Blair is no exception, which goes some way to explaining why his family has wasted time discussing their favourite Spice Girl, a debate about as useful as judging politicians on their hairstyles.

Joe Public would be forgiven for thinking that almost everyone in public life is corrupt in some way, big or small. This week, Tory Whips have been accused of cheating the opposition over three votes and the ex-chief executive of English Heritage has been criticised for running up hundreds of pounds of expenses on a corporate charge card and getting his employer to pay him four grand for his old furniture. Maybe I should have done that when I worked in the NHS. They do seem to be short, particularly of beds. Meanwhile, in Germany, a seemingly well respected politician, loved by the public for her integrity, has allegedly been using armed forces planes to visit her daughter in Switzerland. Hardly nicking a couple of Biros from work, is it? It is much easier to stomach this type of behaviour from people who are just about scraping a living together. Perhaps the Government's money might be better used weeding out their own charlatans, rather than setting up hotlines for people to grass up their neighbours who are only taking a leaf out of the book of their "elders and betters".

I have won an award this week, which I am being made to feel I should shut my ashtray mouth about. Forest, an organisation that supports people's right to smoke, has given me an award for "sticking steadfastly" to my right to smoke. Immediately, a letter appeared in this august publication condemning The Independent, because I have a fag in my hand in the above photo. Firstly, the wealth of anti-smoking stuff far outweighs anything I might be able to do with that tiny little tube of delight in my hand. Secondly, perhaps I should just point out that in a recent survey of role models for young women, I came second only to Margaret Thatcher in my unsuitability as a role model for aforementioned ladies. Thirdly, I am sick to death of this American-style assault on smokers and I shall continue to smoke as much as possible, particularly in places where it will irritate po-faced health obsessives.

We learn this week that laughing is good for us. Phew! It's about time something pleasurable was good for us. It appears that if you drink more you laugh more, too. However, research psychologist Geoff Lowe says this isn't carte blanche for us to all rush out and get blasted. Spoilsport. Might do it anyway.

When is Alzheimer's not Alzheimer's? Tricky question it would seem and certainly not one you could ask someone with Alzheimer's, because the thought processes of people with this terrible illness are not organised enough. However, an Alzheimer's-type illness was diagnosed in the case of Ernest Saunders, he of the Guinness fraud fame, who has now made a remarkable recovery and has been raking in the dosh ever since he got off a longer prison sentence. The European Court of Human Rights has decided that Mr S has been unfairly treated and he himself has been indignant when questioned about the nature of his illness. The point I'd like to make is that there are so many contradictory approaches in psychiatry that you could get a psychiatrist to say almost anything you wanted them to. Mr Saunders may well be indignant. So are we. To us it looks as if he got off a long stretch. It's also tragic for all those people who, of course, don't recover from Alzheimer's, because it's incurable.

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