jo brand's week

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The Independent Online
It's not often that someone you know is the victim of an extraordinary crime, by which I mean sadly, something that is not a car theft or a mugging. This week a fellow comic moved to same Manchester hotel as our tour mob after an incident at a hotel nearby, which began with a knock on the door and someone saying "room service". When he opened the door, three men in ski masks ran in, bundled him and his friend to the floor, tied them up and put black bags over their heads. The gang then took their credit cards and demanded the PIN numbers. This was all accompanied by a fair bit of violence and the gang clearing about a grand out of their accounts. I've always felt safe in hotels and this is another nail in the coffin of those oases of safety we all presume we have. I shall be doing much peering through spy holes from now on.

Congratulations to Kathy Burke who I have worked with on a number of occasions and am very fond of, for picking up an award for best actress in Cannes. What was so brilliant about seeing her on the news getting her award was the fact that although she may not be a traditionally plastic supermodel type, she is attractive, normal, very funny and charming. Next to her, the powdered, designer dressed, personality-free women who normally grace that self-congratulatory showbiz bash all looked like Stepford wives. It was true-to-life intelligent British grit versus glitzy American pap ... and I think we won.

One of the problems I have always thought that men suffer from is that many of them are spoilt rotten by either their mother or both their parents and therefore grow up having an inflated sense of their own importance. This was in evidence the other night at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge when one of the staff came into the dressing room and said, "There's a kid in the audience who would like to meet you." I do not encourage "kids" to come to my show because it is rude and enough adults find it too much, let alone a 13-year-old. However, I was fascinated and so this child appeared accompanied by doting parents and reeled off several scenes from my television show while the parents glowed over him. But, just as the trio was leaving, the kid turned to Andy, the support act, and said, "I hope you don't mind my saying this, but I thought you were extremely boring." There was an embarrassed silence and then the parents started doing, "Oh isn't he awful" routine. We would have liked to have given him a slap and all agreed that had we behaved like this in the presence of our parents, our feet wouldn't have touched the ground. I must be getting old. Kids today, eh?

We hit Wolverhampton on Thursday night and as I have been doing every night, I scanned a copy of The Rough Guide to England to see if there were any interesting facts about the place I could use in the show. The guide doesn't pull any punches and described Wolverhampton as "unattractive with a mixture of Victorian civic architecture and hideous 1960s shopping malls". What I liked about the audience, though, is that they could have a laugh abut it. Not so certain other areas, where the residents are very precious about their town. It is the places where they sit stony faced or boo that you can generally be sure that a Tory MP has retained his seat.

The nature of a society can be gleaned, to some extent, by examining what the members of that society spend their money on. It is somewhat alarming, then, to discover that domestic service is the fastest growing item of consumer spending in this country over the past decade. Although this means that many middle class women are managing to earn enough to pay nannies, cleaners etc, it also means an entirely different group of women is having to be those things and not, I assume, getting very good wages. It would be terrible if the advancement of one group of women was at the expense of a large group of others.

The fashion industry has been criticised this week by Bill Clinton because of its seeming promotion of "heroin chic". This is evident in poses of models in which they look vacuous and of course very thin, so appearing to be addicted to the demon drug. (I have always found most models to look fairly vacuous anyway, so I think it's quite hard to tell the difference). The sad fact is that many models probably are addicted to heroin, which is apparently the drug of choice of the famous empty heads. One can understand why someone living on a council estate in Glasgow might want to be out of touch with the harsh reality of their life, but as most young girls in this country aspire to the life of the supermodel, it's perhaps a lesson that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

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