jo brand's week

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The Independent Online
I am sure Nicola Horlick, who earns a million pounds a year in the City, must also have been incredibly flattered to have been described as "squat, dumpy and terrifying" in one of the Sundays. (Yes, it was written by a bloke.) The day I see a report about a woman that makes no reference to her appearance is probably never going to happen, so I don't even know why I bothered to start that sentence. [Beats me too - Ed]

Just as Brian Harvey of East 17 was putting a word in for ecstasy, it seems it's gone out of fashion and has been replaced by heroin as the drug of choice for the yoof of today. It is always hard to believe these statements that you read in the press, and with two such different drugs as heroin and ecstasy, hard to understand as well. I am sure most people have an archetypal picture of what a junkie looks like ... long greasy hair, dirty clothes, skinny and ill-looking. However, having worked on a drug unit when I was a nurse, I learnt very quickly that the popular stereotype hardly exists. On the unit we saw men and women from every class and background. Businessmen, market traders, civil servants ... you name it. Few of them were under 30. I suspect when the young 'uns discover that heroin certainly doesn't help you dance all night, they might give it up.

One thing it seems children will never become addicted to is vegetables, and there is mounting concern that parents have given up with kids who will not eat their greens and let them get on with crisps and chocolate. Despite having a reputation for only ever stuffing lard down my throat, I am a fan of vegetables, even though I had to suffer sprouts at primary school, not to mention cauliflower that disintegrated on fork impact and mashed swede that looked like lumpy quicksand. I remember one of my brothers once refusing to eat his vegetables and being threatened with not being allowed to go to the pictures by my mum. He held out, obviously believing this threat would never be carried out. Much to his surprise, it was implemented and he sulked at home while we went off to see Snow White. That put me off apples for life.

So how can we persuade kids to eat vegetables? The latest idea is to flavour them with tastes that children like, which means cheese-and-onion flavoured cauliflower and prawn-cocktail flavoured carrots. I feel sick just thinking about them. Watch out for dinner ladies retching.

So mental health services in London are in crisis and on the point of collapse. Quelle surprise. A recent piece of research by the King's Fund has told us what those of us who live in London can see with our very eyes - that the streets are accommodating numerous individuals who cannot cope with life. Two thousand acute psychiatric beds have been lost and many hospitals are trying to cope with patients sleeping in corridors and sharing beds. Apparently, Stephen Dorrell, the Health Secretary, has been "extremely constructive and concerned", whatever that means in the context of a member of a government that has all but destroyed the health service. In America, the subway is home to the flotsam and jetsam of humanity who have been unable to measure up in the land where money is all. Let's just hope our mentally ill population don't disappear below the earth's surface, because that will be a good enough excuse for the Tories to continue to do nothing.

Well done to Jyoti Mishra of Derby who is about 17 and is only the fourth person ever to have a debut single enter the charts at number one. I have heard, but I don't know if it is true, that he is a stout lad and a bit embarrassed to be seen. This is no doubt because the music industry seems to demand these days that you also don't look like the back of a bus as well as being a good warbler. This was borne out by a woman in Southend who sent me a tape of her stuff. She had been told by a record company that although she has a great voice, female record buyers these days like to see a woman they can model themselves on and male record buyers like to see a woman they would be proud to have on their arm. Let's hope this ethos doesn't drift into comedy or I'm well and truly stuffed.

I am out of step, I'm afraid, with the majority of readers in this country, 25,000 of whom voted The Lord of the Rings the top book of the century. I tried it several times in my hippy phase, but I just got irritated by those hairy-footed little things, wizards and other assorted Dungeon and Dragon-type creations. It makes me wonder if those 25,000 smoked more dope than we realised.

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