jo brand's week

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The Independent Online
I was pleased to see Janet McTeer win an award in the US for her role in A Doll's House. I saw it in London and it restored my faith in West End theatre, which can be so unpredictable. Rave reviews don't necessarily mean anything. Another production I saw recently, described as "devastating", was the biggest load of old tosh I have sat through for a long time. A few actors off the telly and a lot of hype do not a devastating production make; and critics are not always right, even if they are convinced they are.

I am getting through the last two weeks of the tour and starting to feel slightly jaded. Did Leicester on Sunday evening, which proved to be a bit of a drunken affair, as it seemed the good burghers of Leicester - quite a few of them, at least - had been at the bottle for much of the beautifully sunny day and had taken to heckling.

Hecklers are not a uniform mob. They vary from sober and clever, to drunk and a total pain in the bum. We got the latter, and in this case, however many put-downs you do, the hecklers are so out of it that it makes no difference. The constant nonsensical rubbish they come out with cannot be stopped by the usual approach, and a little extra encouragement to behave, from a big scary bloke (John, our tour manager), normally does the trick.

The phrase "care in the community" sounds so warm and elicits echoes of a rustic England when everyone knew and kept an eye on everyone else. Unfortunately, it has come to mean a substitute for decent care for those with mental health problems, because facilities are poor and staff are stretched. Added to that, a great proportion of the community does not want to care because it has swallowed the alarmist approach the tabloids take, drip-feeding us with images of machete-wielding wildmen. Thus, many centres for those with mental health problems are prevented from opening because of protest from the local community. I'm sure if you look at the statistics, you will find that the most dangerous potential assailants are not those living in a community hostel, but probably these children's own fathers.

I am not sure how Bill Clinton can actually carry on doing his job and not just crawl into a hole with a very red face, given the farcical events in the sexual harassment case against him. Paula Jones, who alleges he dropped his kecks in a Little Rock hotel, insists she can identify his genital area because of "distinguishing characteristics". What on earth does she mean? Is it size? A birthmark? A hideous deformity? No wonder Bill doesn't want to take part in the strangest identity parade ever.

Did you know that Britain is second only to Germany in lawnmower ownership? Makes you proud, doesn't it, to know that compared with Italy or France, we are nearly up with the Germans in keeping our lawns trim. I think keeping your garden nice is a metaphor for other areas of life, and to know that we can hold our heads up and say "we don't let our lawns get overgrown" places us right at the heart of Europe. Sorry, just slipped into a Daily Mail editorial there.

Having seen a team of women find their way to the Pole this week, I feel somewhat ashamed to describe a problem we had in Ipswich on Wednesday night. We had all been for a curry in town, and a three-vehicle convoy set off to find our hotel. John stayed on the mobile phone as a hotel receptionist talked him through directions, a la air traffic control bringing in a crippled jumbo. Having circled a roundabout three or four times, we came to a crucial junction, at which point the phone cut out. Luckily, further up the road, we spotted a very small wooden sign for the hotel, reversed the convoy back up the road and turned in - to find ourselves in someone's garden. Getting a group of two cars and a big van back out on to a country road is not easy, especially when you are giggling hysterically.

John and I are supposed to be doing the RAC rally for charity this year. I predict we won't even find the start.

Baby Spice plummeting off her shoes has been big news this week, as it was when Naomi Campbell did a dive off her platforms at a fashion show. But women still totter round like stilt-walkers, damaging themselves and making themselves vulnerable - because if there's one thing you can't do in big shoes, it's run like hell from an attack. That's not Girl Power, that's Girl Impotence.

We women continue to swallow this line that it's unladylike or even proof of being a lesbian if you wear flat shoes like Doc Martens. I'm prepared to put up with that accusation, because at least my feet aren't killing me and I don't look like a bandy ostrich.