Jo Brand's week

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The Independent Online
It seems that gangs of Greek Cypriots are making vicious and unprovoked attacks on off-duty British troops who are serving with the United Nations in Nicosia. This is thought to be happening because of the case involving the three soldiers who were sentenced to life following the killing of a young Danish woman. Reaction to these attacks by the Army appears to be a mixture of surprise and concern.

It isn't a surprise to me, it's quite understandable and it may well be time for senior figures in the British Army to admit that many young soldiers are out of control. I accept that many young blokes in the army are lawful, well-behaved individuals, but that's not the point. The point is that an institution like the Army cannot afford to ignore the behaviour of a handful of psychopaths who have led them to acquire such a thuggish image. Perhaps if the people of Cyprus felt the upper echelons weren't turning a blind eye, things would be better. A bit of positive PR wouldn't go amiss. Obviously, it's a bit of a frightening thought having soldiers doing shopping for old ladies or a spot of babysitting, but permitting soldiers to behave like drunken morons when they're off-duty ain't going to endear them to the locals.

It looks as if Tufty is in danger of being squashed under the wheels of progress. Plans are afoot to kill off this road-safety squirrel and replace him with a slightly more hip representative. The director of the Royal Society for the Prevention Of Accidents, Dave Fenemore, thinks that Tufty lacks credibility with the kids, because he is too puritanical and goody-goody. Yep, that figures ... the church seems to be having the same problem.

Tufty's replacement will be a boy called Willy who sports a baseball cap and is accompanied by a dragon called Watchit. Apparently, faith has been lost in small animals teaching road safety, given that a hedgehog is part of Tufty's entourage and as we know they are not the most skilled creatures at crossing the road.

I think a lot of fun could be had with future slogans, "Don't run over a Willy," I fear, is a message that many five-year-old feminists may well ignore.

What a shame that an event as genteel and respectable as the Chelsea Flower Show spawns the petty jealousies and resentments normally reserved for less grand occasions. But the gardeners are not happy and cannot bring themselves to congratulate the winner of the best garden award. Apparently, only those gardeners who are sponsored by the posh nobs ever seem to win the prizes. The losers have even considered asking a gang of Joe Publics to follow the judges round next year and give their own verdict on the gardens. Whatever happened to flower power?

What a joy it must have been for Dennis Skinner to discover that children in Jamaica are saving their money to send to children at a school in Derbyshire to buy pencils. Even better perhaps, that some schools in Derbyshire use local firms to sponsor toilet paper in schools. The Labour left must have relished the opportunity to accuse the Government of scrimping on education to such an extent that parts of a child's education are being sponsored by a Third World country.

In these cases, I like to stop reading and try to work out what the Government's response is going to be ... because there always is one. Predictably, it would accuse the education authority (Labour, of course) of spending its money on pointless exercises such as creating nuclear-free zones. This sounds rather hollow. Perhaps Jamaican children could save a bit more and sort out the dreadful state of repair of our schools.

Libraries in Glasgow have had their budget cut by 15 per cent, thus forcing the tragic decision that no more Mills and Boon novels (if you can call them that) will be bought in. I wonder how they came to this decision.

Well, I imagine some granite-jawed hero with smoky grey eyes forcefully made his case, as he pounded his fist on the table and his chest rose and fell in a very manly way. On the other hand, one should spare a thought for the women whose lives are going to be left empty and desolate by the absence of heros like this.

Julia Ormond, the near-perfect looking actress, who played Guinevere in the recent Connery/Gere bash, First Knight, has been bemoaning the fact that she cannot find her ideal man. It is always distressing for us lower mortals who look like we've just got up ... all day ... to discover that a flower as delightful as Julia with the pick of the crop at her feet is having problems in the search for a partner. If she cannot find the ideal man with her assets, it leads one sadly to the conclusion that he does not exist.

Still, what would I know, man-hating feminist that I am?

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