jo brand's week

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The Independent Online
Congratulations to the bloke who sneaked his sculpture into the Tate Gallery. Art institutions, like others, cannot help but be elitist and it must be depressing for some artists to think they will never get anywhere near the big ones. The bloke in question also took pictures of people admiring his sculpture on its home-made plinth. I am certain too that the joy he experienced from this was 10 times that of seasoned old stagers whose work has been at the Tate for decades. So good on him.

Occasionally, when I've seen an example of non-macho behaviour which seems to demonstrate that men really are moving away from competitive, aggressive and destructive acts, I think to myself that I'm being unfair in attacking that element of the male gender which seems extreme in its cruelty and sadism. And then I see something like the secret film shown on television news this week of rookie US Marines indulging in the most unbelievable initiation rituals.

The sight of an uncontrolled group of young men gorging themselves in "hazing", which involves attacking the chest of a new recruit with a sharp pin until it bleeds and elicits screams of pain from the recipient, made me feel angry and depressed all over again. The relentless perpetuation of this sort of violence makes me think that civilisation has hardly moved an inch since the Middle Ages.

A friend of mine has just come back from India after a three-week holiday during which his girlfriend managed to get an ear infection, and he the usual overactive bottom syndrome. When I asked him how it went, bearing in mind India is the most popular venue in the world for finding yourself, he said the main emotion it had elicited in him was a sense of sadness at the terrible life the majority of people there have.

I remember as a kid that if my brothers and I didn't finish our dinner, a common admonition was, "Think of all the poor people in the world," but it's hard to conjure up the image as a six-year-old. Perhaps we should all be sent to the Third World, then we might really appreciate what we've got. This is really what I would call "finding oneself".

The mystery of a letter I received from the police recently, informing me that there had been "developments" after a burglary I had in 1991, has been solved. Although I had a vain hope that Mr Burglar had my video and Ansafone neatly tucked under his bed, it was not to be. Someone has apparently owned up, but of course the goods in question were no doubt disposed of at the time of the theft. Still, at least I have the "satisfaction" of knowing this bloke is banged up, according to the detective I spoke to. Funny ... I don't really feel it myself.

What is the matter with some men these days? I see a group known as the "United Kingdom Men's Movement" has got very steamed up about feminism, which it regards as "the greatest evil of our time". I don't know what happened to war, torture, child abuse, arms dealing, bombing, etc. These men obviously have fragile little egos and feel threatened by any woman who can do more than simper and giggle. And so they should worry, too, as much research shows that girls are doing better than boys at school and women are flourishing in business. However, we are not taking over the world. We do not have equal pay. Some women still suffer violence at the hands of men, and the lads are generally in control and getting more from life, from what I can see, as so many women are ashamed to link themselves with feminism. So, UKMM, I'd stop whingeing and shut up if I were you.

In fact, men are still so much in control in certain institutions that it's quite unusual to see women getting the better of them. So it was refreshing to see that ex-Wren Lesley Morris won her claim for constructive dismissal following four years of sexual harassment in the Navy.

Her experiences sound horrible, consisting as they did of abuse and humiliation. Again, I do not wish to tar the entire male population with one brush, but there are certainly enough men around to ensure that women in these and other vulnerable situations are put in their place with well-chosen words. You may well have been shocked by the scene in The Silence of the Lambs when Jodie Foster was forced to run the gamut of the prisoners before she got to Hannibal, and one particular prisoner made an obscene remark about being able to smell a part of her anatomy. I know a female comic who had to put up with this very statement one night at a show, said repeatedly and quietly so no one else could hear. And that wasn't your Hollywood sex offender, that was some "normal" bloke on a night out. So my sympathy and congratulations to Lesley Morris for fighting it successfully. At least she didn't join the Marines.

What a lovely, caring company Ford is turning out to be. Not only has it been accused of racism (when black faces started disappearing from advertisements which portrayed its staff); there was also a recent scandal there involving Asian employees not being able to get prestige driving jobs because of white nepotism. Now it seems that Ford is unceremoniously going to dump a load of employees who make Escorts and set up shop in Germany, because of the potential financial benefits. According to confidential documents, this move has been coldly planned for maximum profits in this society in which people have metamorphosed into mere "human resources", making it so much easier to destroy their lives. So it seems it has been easy for Ford to betray the workers. Come back Karl Marx, all is forgiven.

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