THERE are plenty of reasons to find Russell Brand supremely, spectacularly irritating.
Those outfits. That hair. Every film role he’s ever done. His verbal incontinence. His shagging, swaggering sex-obsessed ways. I don’t feel bad criticising him because whatever I call him, I can’t top the demolition job he does on himself: “A Halloween-haired, Sachsgate-enacting, estuary-whining, glitter-lacquered, priapic berk”. Yup, that’s got it about covered.
And yet, and yet. I watched him spar with Paxman on Newnsight the other night and although there were moments about as pleasurable as a papercut, overall I felt a growing respect for Brand. With his impassioned, irreverent, revolutionary rhetoric, he did something few manage: for a moment, before he once again fell in love with his own verbosity and left us sitting like wallflowers looking for a wayward dance partner, created just enough space to posit the case that the way we live really could, or perhaps should, be different.
It wasn’t just his verve and wit which achieved this, Brand’s plea is strengthened by current circumstances – food banks, old people being told to heat only one room in their homes, big business (most recently the energy providers, but they’re not alone) serving corporate greed before social need. Against all this, it felt like Brand had a point.
Lots of people hated both what he said and how he said it. They objected to his confession that he has never voted (“As far as I’m concerned there is nothing to vote for”) and his encouragement to others to do the same. They objected to the fact that he didn’t offer a solution to the current global crisis. “Don’t ask me to sit here in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system,” Brand eloquently, and reasonably, chided Paxman.
I didn’t agree with every word he said (I didn’t understand a fair few of them) but, “We have a disillusioned, disenfranchised underclass which is not being represented by the political system” seemed pretty bang on. As did his statement that “apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people.” The only line of his impassioned interview that didn’t ring true was when he referred to himself as “an actor”. Stick to the politics, Russell, some of us had to watch Arthur.
What I like about Brand is that he is speaking to that sense of futility that lots of people feel about the fact that we’d probably all like things to be getting better and yet they seem to be getting indubitably worse.
Meanwhile party politicians, particularly those at the top, appear to be saying pretty much the same thing, give or take some shifts in vocabulary, here and there. Brand is right to be angry and he’s not the only one. He states that “when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir”. I don’t know whether I believe him, but honestly I’d like to.
I’VE made no secret of my love of all things Icelandic: the jumpers, the nature baths, the smoked lamb, the horses, Bjork... I could go on. And now there’s even more reason to love that island country as it has just, for the fifth year running, come top of the World Gender Gap Index. That means it is the country in which the gap between the genders is most narrow. Judged by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on issues including health, access to education, economic participation and political engagement, Iceland topped the list and was followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden. What about the UK? Eighteenth. Same as last year and warned by the WEF that there are “worrisome points” across all four areas surveyed. Next flight to Reykjavik.
SPRING forward, fall back. You fell, right? Me too. It happened at 2am, but I didn’t stay up for it. Bucking the space-time continuum, I claimed my extra 60 minutes last night before bedtime, apart from in the kitchen where changing the oven clock defeats us, as do the whereabouts of the instruction book. I am dreading the impending long, winter months and I can’t help but feel they’re going to start at about four o’clock this afternoon. I want to stay cheery in the face of the impending gloom, but I’m struggling. I might have to bribe myself by wearing luminous cycling clothes at all times, not just when I’m on my bike. «