Jo Brand's week

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The Independent Online
Oasis's performance at Knebworth this weekend promises to be a nightmare for the police, who have to get huge crowds in and out over two days with the minimum of trouble. So it is heart-warming to know that the poor old police have been issued with a video to give the officers some idea of the fans they are up against. Oasis fans are described as "feisty, contrary and belligerent", thus setting the scene, one would have thought, for the odd dust-up between the boys in blue and the gig- goers. In my experience, when the police get together in a group, they can be pretty feisty, contrary and belligerent too, although police entertainment tends to feature a couple of strippers and a racist Mancunian comic, rather than a talented Mancunian band. Let's hope the good sense of the band prevents any potential rumbles getting out of hand. Oh dear, I forgot ... they're feisty, contrary and belligerent too. No doubt after this weekend, the rozzers will be begging for a few Cliff shows.

A recent charity golf tournament in Fairfax county, Virginia, included topless female caddies and an auction of women to accompany male golfers in their carts. Funny, but I've always thought that the women's movement was particularly strong in America. Perhaps the Fairfax county branch is a bit depleted at the moment. Let's hope this doesn't catch on in professional golf or they'll never get round the course. The American Heart Foundation, for whom the tournament was organised, has said it will return the donation. I don't suppose they realised that quite so many women were going to strip down as near to their hearts as possible. As for the auction side of things, when are these sad women going to realise that to be selected by some menopausal tartan-clad sack of spuds is not a valid assessment of your worth as a person?

I was in Cork last weekend to do a couple of shows and for a change the tour manager, myself and another act rose well before the "Countdown" hour and decided on a visit to Blarney Castle, container of the famous stone. Apparently, the original gift bestowed by the Blarney stone was the ability to tell lies for seven years, something those of us who are crap at it would find far more useful than the gift of the gab. I had always assumed that kissing this thing involved no more than a three-minute stagger off the coach, a slight bend of the waist, maybe, and mission accomplished. To someone like me with the fitness record of a sloth it seemed more like mission impossible. First of all you have to get up to the top of Blarney Castle (no lift), via numerous treacherously narrow winding stairs, so designed that invaders could be dispatched with the most minuscule of shoves. Then you have to pick your way round a narrow lumpy floor full of holes revealing a sizeable drop, and finally lie on your back holding on to two metal bars while an attendant-type holds your feet and pisses himself laughing, as you are dispatched towards the saliva- sullied object. Kiss the Blarney stone? Pogue mahone. (Translation available in Gaelic dictionary.)

Being a bit of an international traveller, this week found me in Shropshire as well, witnessing one of the strangest phenomena I have ever seen. During a heavy thunderstorm, smoke started to billow from a group of trees some 200 yards from where I was staying. We ran to investigate. I use the term "ran" loosely. In fact, in this context, it means "went in the car". The source of the smoke was an enormous tree which had been struck by lightning. It was burning fiercely, and threatened to bring the whole tree down. For once a camera was to hand, although we could not persuade a neighbour down the road to come and have a look as she maintained she has been hit twice by lightning and didn't fancy third time unlucky. I wonder if seeing something like this has some ominous portent? If I'm not here next week, you'll know why.

Cyclists decided to get militant this week and stop the traffic in London on the day of the Tube strike. They are from a group called Reclaim The Streets and are protesting about congestion in London. As a driver, I have to say that cyclists aren't always the conscientious road users they often claim to be, despite the fact that they do not spew fumes at the rate the rest of us in cars do. As an ex-cyclist myself (incredible as it may seem), I am well aware of the dangers that cyclists face and they don't make it any easier by winding up car drivers in several ways. First, I very rarely see a cyclist obeying traffic lights. They seem to think they have the right to take a short cut across the pavement or just carry on. Second, a sizeable majority don't have lights at night. Then, whenever you go within a few feet of them on the road, so you don't have a crash with another car, they scream sanctimoniously as though they own the road. As for hand signals ... non-existent. They have also turned grubby parts of London into what appears to be a suburb of California, with a selection of hideous lycra and face apparatus. Not much of an objective criticism that last one, but I never was much of a scientist.

I had always imagined that the world of the druid lay somewhere beyond the sort of petty earthly squabbles that tie the rest of us down. But no, it seems they're just like us. A row has broken out among Welsh druids because some of them have been sending letters with the stamps on upside down and this is considered a mark of disrespect to her Maj. So far, four people have been banned from ceremonies at next week's Eisteddfod and are planning to protest by turning up in mufti and not in their usual robes. Given the current postal strike, it may be that sticking the stamp upside down might get the letter there more efficiently. Besides, I'm sure the Queen has far more to worry about than her perm being ruined.

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