Jo Brand's week

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The Independent Online
Living south of the Thames with the ever-attendant cliche about the unwillingness of cab drivers to make that journey, I get quite tense if I think the driver is going to launch into a racist monologue, which again, cliche as it is, many do. So what a joy the other day to meet a cabbie who launched into an anti-racist diatribe. It was like hearing Pamela Anderson appeal to women to grow old gracefully. Incidentally, a friend of mine was talking to a little boy recently about his favourite "ladies" on television. Asked to pick two, he listed me and Pamela Anderson (in that order, I might add). So watch it, Pam. I might put my cossie on and blow you off the beach.

Something is definitely going a bit wrong. Each gender seems to be selecting the worst characteristics of the other's behaviour. Men seem to be getting more obsessed with fashion and appearance, whereas quite a big percentage of women said recently they would use violence to get what they wanted. How about if women started letting themselves go a bit in the looks department and men tried a bit of calm reasoning instead of constantly facing up to each other like Tweedledum and Tweedledee?

In Channel 4's Battered Britain series this week, three violent incidents captured on CCTV were analysed with help from the battered, the batterer and various relatives. Alcohol was a factor in all of them and so were blokes, although I was a bit perturbed to see the mother of one of the fighters appeared to think the whole thing was a huge joke and her boy was just a bit of a lad.

I suppose it's not completely fair of women to blame men for violence. After all, we have a very big hand in bringing them up. Next Christmas, I'm going to buy my nephews an Acas handbook each instead of the macho stuff they usually get. That should stop them talking to me once and for all.

It fascinates me how little time it takes for violence to ignite. Two incidents took place over the weekend which demonstrated to me how many people are on the brink of exploding much of the time. The first happened in a pub where I was having a drink with about eight friends.

A very drunk bloke plonked himself down uninvited at our table and proceeded to stare at us, until he was joined by two not so drunk friends, one of whom insisted I got them a drink because I obviously get free drinks from every pub I go into. (I don't. If I did, I'd be face down in the gutter 24 hours a day.)

A friend who tried to intervene on my behalf was told to shut up, at which point he selected a word with which to address Mr Thirsty guaranteed to wind him up. It did. Violence was prevented by diverting the antagonist away from constantly repeating, "What did you call me?" and on to something else. Suffice to say, though, he was as welcome at our table as a Ryvita with cottage cheese on.

The second incident, at a party, involved a man who demanded my home address so he could send me a CD. Not happy with my agent's address, he got very angry and launched into a tirade about how he was better than me and everyone in the room, etc. Having been asked to go away by a friend of ours, he turned, and pushed another friend out of the way with the words, "Get out of my effing way." This person didn't want to get out of "the effing way" and pushed back, sending Mr Better Than Anyone Else sprawling. He came up kicking and punching from a heap of broken glasses and was hauled out of the room by the people he was with.

Funny how both incidents involved drunken blokes.

So Brandon Lee/Brian MacKinnon won't be getting into medical school because he is too old. But I'd positively encourage medical schools not to take students until they are older, because, for all the intelligence some medical students may have, they certainly do not have the maturity or social skills that getting a bit older gives you.

Having performed at medical school balls, I often ended the evening wishing I had a scalpel. The anatomy knowledge of the vast majority only appeared to extend to bits I was invited to get out for them.

It's very worrying when you have to suffer humiliating gynaecological examinations attended by sniggering medical students practising their bedside technique. Once, with my legs in stirrups and a 12-year-old peering under the sheet, I was regaled with, "Haven't I met you somewhere before?"

All I could think of to say was, "It depends on which end you're talking about."

A female news reporter tested some earrings this week which are supposed to make you lose weight. She reckoned they hurt so much, she stopped thinking about food. Well, it's certainly an innovative approach. All those poor 70,000 people who have bought some could just have poked themselves in the ear with a pin.

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