Arabella Weir: Does my brain look small in this?

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Warning: some readers may be distressed by a word appearing in this article. However, I was enjoined to use it to do proper justice to the following tale. I apologise but had no choice. It's the only word that does the job. Should you be of a sensitive disposition look away now. Still there? Right, you will see the word "celebrity" in this piece more than once.

Warning: some readers may be distressed by a word appearing in this article. However, I was enjoined to use it to do proper justice to the following tale. I apologise but had no choice. It's the only word that does the job. Should you be of a sensitive disposition look away now. Still there? Right, you will see the word "celebrity" in this piece more than once.

It's a dirty word, I know, and one I rarely use. I'm a nicely brought up girl and was taught never to use words like that. It isn't clever and it isn't funny. Why, nowadays it's positively obscene, for it instantly brings to mind, not celestial beings blessed with God-given beauty and talent, such as Rita Heyworth and Gary Cooper, but half-witted, low, prenaturally uncomplicated numpties prepared to degrade themselves for the promise of one fleeting inclusion in the Spot the Cellulite section of Heat magazine.

So where does that leave me? Erm, well, in a slightly shaky position from which to be heaping scorn on those seeking fame via methods other than their chosen careers, since I appeared on Celebrity Mastermind last Friday night and, what's more, made a right twat of myself. But if you'll stay with me for a moment I can explain. It wasn't my fault. Honest. I was asked if I'd do the show some time ago. People like me often get invited to do these things. This is because, for shows of this ilk, we provide the packing around proper celebrities such as, for example, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, who also graced the show.

Rich with this knowledge I usually decline these offers, but I'm a big fan of John Humphrys and thought this one might actually be quite a laugh. I chose the iconic TV series Dallas for my specialist subject. Now, at its peak, I genuinely adored Dallas. My best friends and I held weekly Dallas nights. We cried real tears when Bobby died - the first time. So, in times gone by, I had a bona fide trainspotter's familiarity with the series. But that was 20 years ago. These days that once-oh-so-easily accessed data is as hard to recall as the names of all the men I've slept with; in fact more so. Naturally, I realised that to acquit myself well, I was going to have to do some serious swotting - for Dallas, that is; that roll-call of names is long gone.

We were recording the show on a Tuesday night and I'd blocked out the whole of that day to bone up. I had three websites devoted to the show to trawl, and heaps of old tapes. I was going to have a ball and learn something - what a perfect combi for an enriching, useful day. Monday early evening. It's business as usual. I'm shouting at my kids, who are ostentatiously ignoring me.

Unusually and, as it turned out, mighty fortuitously, I haven't yet downed my customary vat of wine. There's a knock at the door. It's the driver from the BBC who's come to pick me up for Celebrity Mastermind. I give him a knowing smile and ask him to wait while I call my agent to confirm that he's got the wrong night. He hasn't. Along the way, somewhere, the nights have got mixed up and "Yes, it is today and could you get a move on because they're all waiting."

Oh, great. I briefly consider refusing to go but decide against this bold move, mindful of the fate that met Roy Hattersley when he, for the second or third time, backed out of Have I Got News for You at the last minute. He was replaced by a tub of lard. As it turned out, a tub of lard, indeed any old cooking fat, could have done better than I did. My aggregate score was six.

I was able to answer one question in my specialist subject. An all-time low, I believe. Yes, one and I hadn't remembered I'd remembered that fact until the question was asked. Without the swotting, my seniority got the better of me and I simply could not recall any Dallas trivia - none. I knew more answers to the eventual winner's Ryder Cup questions and I've never watched or played a game of golf in my entire life. Having said that, I will never now forget who swung a club in Dallas.

Sven's parting

And on the subject of sport I am outraged that during all these recent did-he-didn't-he Sven shenanigans no one seems to be asking the most glaringly vital question. Who is doing his hair? For the love of God, it's worse than David Seaman's and that's really saying something. I realise balding men go to great and varied lengths to disguise follicle loss but what's with the blow drying it so it springs out of the back of his head? It looks like the crest of a wave. And a spume-topped wave at that. By all accounts, though, Sven's got plenty of spume to spare.

Like any self-respecting woman living with a man, I am duty bound to disagree with him on every single topic he ill-advisedly chooses to raise. The theme du jour is holidays. We are shortly off to, sample the, ahem, delights of a traditional English holiday by the sea. It was his idea. One of the many reasons why I am not looking forward to this break, hah, hah, is all the dogs. What on earth possesses people to take their dog on holiday? It's not like it's been working all year. It'll have had an exhausting schedule of barking at strangers and licking its bits, like as not. Granted this is some people's job description but, still, it's hardly something from which you need to take time off. Au contraire.

With the express intention of annoying me, some people bring their wretched animals to the beach so that we, too, can enjoy the pleasures of their beasts swimming, sunbathing and larking around alongside us and our chiefly human families. There should be dog-only beaches where they can all lick each other's bottoms until they are blue in the testicles, leaving the rest of us to deal with humanity in all its glory.

Good grief, I hate other people nearly as much as I hate pets on holiday. Which makes me uncannily similar to the philosopher and great thinker Jean-Paul Sartre, who said: "Hell is other people." Blast, wish that'd had been a question on Celebrity Mastermind then I'd have got seven - one more than Tara Palmer-sodding-Tomkinson.

Janet Street-Porter is away

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