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11th September 2013: The world's gone mad and I'm the only one who knows
13th August 2013: Black is white. Fact. End of.
11th August 2013: Electric cars, not as green as they're painted?
18th June 2013: Wrinklies unite, you have nothing to lose but your walking frames!
17th May 2013: Some actual FACTS about climate change (for a change) from actual scientists ...
10th May 2013: An article about that poison gas, carbon dioxide, and other scientific facts (not) ...
10th May 2013: We need to see past the sex and look at the crimes: is justice being served?
8th May 2013: So, who would you trust to treat your haemorrhoids, Theresa May?
8th May 2013: Why should citizens in the 21st Century fear the law so much?
30th April 2013: What the GOS says today, the rest of the world realises tomorrow ...
30th April 2013: You couldn't make it up, could you? Luckily you don't need to ...
29th April 2013: a vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE, because THE ABOVE are crap ...
28th April 2013: what goes around, comes around?
19th April 2013: everyone's a victim these days ...
10th April 2013: Thatcher is dead; long live Thatcher!
8th April 2013: Poor people are such a nuisance. Just give them loads of money and they'll go away ...
26th March 2013: Censorship is alive and well and coming for you ...
25th March 2013: Just do your job properly, is that too much to ask?
25th March 2013: So, what do you think caused your heterosexuality?
20th March 2013: Feminists - puritans, hypocrites or just plain stupid?
18th March 2013: How Nazi Germany paved the way for modern governance?
13th March 2013: Time we all grew up and lived in the real world ...
12th March 2013: Hindenburg crash mystery solved? - don't you believe it!
6th March 2013: Is this the real GOS?
5th March 2013: All that's wrong with taxes
25th February 2013: The self-seeking MP who is trying to bring Britain down ...
24th February 2013: Why can't newspapers just tell the truth?
22nd February 2013: Trial by jury - a radical proposal
13th February 2013: A little verse for two very old people ...
6th February 2013: It's not us after all, it's worms
6th February 2013: Now here's a powerful argument FOR gay marriage ...
4th February 2013: There's no such thing as equality because we're not all the same ...
28th January 2013: Global Warming isn't over - IT'S HIDING!
25th January 2013: Global Warmers: mad, bad and dangerous to know ...
25th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
19th January 2013: We STILL haven't got our heads straight about gays ...
16th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
11th January 2013: What it's like being English ...
7th January 2013: Bleat, bleat, if it saves the life of just one child ...
7th January 2013: How best to put it? 'Up yours, Argentina'?
7th January 2013: Chucking even more of other people's money around ...
6th January 2013: Chucking other people's money around ...
30th December 2012: The BBC is just crap, basically ...
30th December 2012: We mourn the passing of a genuine Grumpy Old Sod ...
30th December 2012: How an official body sets out to ruin Christmas ...
16th December 2012: Why should we pardon Alan Turing when he did nothing wrong?
15th December 2012: When will social workers face up to their REAL responsibility?
15th December 2012: Unfair trading by a firm in Bognor Regis ...
14th December 2012: Now the company that sells your data is pretending to act as watchdog ...
7th December 2012: There's a war between cars and bikes, apparently, and  most of us never noticed!
26th November 2012: The bottom line - social workers are just plain stupid ...
20th November 2012: So, David Eyke was right all along, then?
15th November 2012: MPs don't mind dishing it out, but when it's them in the firing line ...
14th November 2012: The BBC has a policy, it seems, about which truths it wants to tell ...
12th November 2012: Big Brother, coming to a school near you ...
9th November 2012: Yet another celebrity who thinks, like Jimmy Saville, that he can behave just as he likes because he's famous ...
5th November 2012: Whose roads are they, anyway? After all, we paid for them ...
7th May 2012: How politicians could end droughts at a stroke if they chose ...
6th May 2012: The BBC, still determined to keep us in a fog of ignorance ...
2nd May 2012: A sense of proportion lacking?
24th April 2012: Told you so, told you so, told you so ...
15th April 2012: Aah, sweet ickle polar bears in danger, aah ...
15th April 2012: An open letter to Anglian Water ...
30th March 2012: Now they want to cure us if we don't believe their lies ...
28th February 2012: Just how useful is a degree? Not very.
27th February 2012: ... so many ways to die ...
15th February 2012: DO go to Jamaica because you definitely WON'T get murdered with a machete. Ms Fox says so ...
31st January 2012: We don't make anything any more
27th January 2012: There's always a word for it, they say, and if there isn't we'll invent one
26th January 2012: Literary criticism on GOS? How posh!
12th December 2011: Plain speaking by a scientist about the global warming fraud
9th December 2011: Who trusts scientists? Apart from the BBC, of course?
7th December 2011: All in all, not a good week for British justice ...
9th November 2011: Well what d'you know, the law really IS a bit of an ass ...

 

 
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This report from the Sunday Times this week
 
Jean Johnson, 63, makes an unlikely champion of the working girl. The wife of a retired airline pilot, her life has consisted of raising her three children and being a pillar of the community. Her involvement with the Women's Institute goes back 30 years; she's seen women move from competitive cake-making to championing such causes as Aids research, fighting domestic violence and now, at her behest, the legalisation of prostitution.
 

Jean Johnson

 
The delicious union of the WI and prostitution provided an irresistible story for the nation's news desks last year. "I'd never even heard of the Daily Sport," says Jean. "Their front cover read 'WI wants knocking shops', which wasn't strictly true."
 
Last March, a film company whisked Jean and her friend and fellow WI member, 73-year-old Shirley Landels, to a bunny ranch in Nevada, sat them in the window of an Amsterdam brothel, "to see how it felt", and took them to a prostitution co-operative in New Zealand. Yet nothing they saw on their world trip shocked Jean and Shirley more than trawling the streets of Southampton, where they witnessed the perilousness and the mundanity of prostitutes' lives in the UK. "There were no miniskirts or high heels here," says Jean, "the girls - some of them students and young mums - worked between 5pm and 7pm to catch men in their cars on their way home from work. They're vulnerable to violence and exploitation. And with the economic crisis, I think it's going to get worse."
 
It was the murder of five prostitutes in Ipswich at the end of 2006 that had spurred Jean into action. She proposed to her local WI in Holybourne, Hampshire, that they ask local authorities to provide safe spaces for sex workers, and most of the 30 members - "after a few gasps" - came out in support. "We all thought it could so easily be us," says Jean. "The murdered girls came from all strata of society." In January last year the majority of the county's 7,700 WI members across 206 branches voted for the resolution that gave Jean and Shirley a mandate to talk to MPs and the local authority to try to improve conditions in Hampshire's estimated 600 brothels. The chief of police and even the local Roman Catholic bishop came out in support, but when they sent it to the WI's National Federation in June as an urgent national resolution, it was rejected. Undeterred, in July, they took over a shop in Winchester, sat a girl in the window, dressed her as "a lady", and surrounded her with tea and cakes. The message was: "If anyone can legitimise prostitution, the WI can." In August they turned a van into what looked like a mobile brothel, filled it with posters, condoms and "various lubricants", and parked it in the centre of Winchester. The vicar of Alresford, hoping for tea, and failing to engage his brain before opening his mouth, called out: "I'm off to the bank, then I'll be over for a quickie!"
 
In October Shirley Landels - "a brilliant, brilliant lady" - died after suffering a stroke. Jean, with the support of Shirley's daughter, Andy Knight, is determined to carry on campaigning. She loathes the double standards she's witnessed. She recalls meeting a girl who had been imprisoned for soliciting. "She was petrified in case the judge and barristers hearing her case turned out to be clients. The banks are involved too. After all, most brothels take credit cards. It's ridiculous! We're still pretending prostitution isn't happening in Britain."
 
In November Jean went alone to Westminster to speak at a meeting of MPs and lords involved in amending the Criminal Justice Bill. She spoke again this month, to the campaigning body The English Collective of Prostitutes. "I want not just to legalise prostitution and make it safe for the girls, I want to get rid of the stigma." Her diary is filled with WI bookings for her talk, "Service Providers". The reaction, she admits, is mixed. "I've had a few letters telling me I've brought the WI into disrepute." So she has a subject in reserve. "I love shoes," she says, "so occasionally, I talk about them instead. I've got a pair of red patent ones I'm very fond of. I call them tart's trotters."
 

 
The GOS says: What a wonderful story.
 
I strongly support Jean Johnson's campaign, not because I think it will make the women safer, or that it will improve their working conditions, or that it will take other forms of crime off the street - I frankly have no idea whether it will or not. I don't know any prostitutes, though I'm sure if I did they'd be very nice.
 
No, I support it for the most nave of reasons: my common-sense prevents me from understanding what it's got to do with anyone else what a woman chooses to do with her body. Or her brain, or her time, come to that, so long as she isn't harming others.
 
It's OK for a woman to sell her time and her bodily efforts by, say, working in a factory or cleaning offices. It's OK for her to sell her brain by working in a solicitor's office or being a teacher. It's OK for her to sell her compassion and instinct to care for others by being a nurse. It's OK to sell her beauty by taking her clothes off for a magazine.
 
So why isn't it OK for her to sell her other womanly attribute, her ability to provide sexual satisfaction to those who want it? It's her body, why can't she do as she wants with it? She can tattoo it, she can starve it, she can lay on the beach and tan it, she can dress it up to look beautiful, she can bare it and still look beautiful it's hers, and I can't see why society thinks it can deny her right to dispose of it as she wishes.
 
And please, please, on pain of what I promise will be direct and very scathing response because I can't abide pompous stupidity at any price, DO NOT write in and say that prostitutes don't choose to work in this way, or that they shouldn't do it because they are feeding a drug habit. If they have a drug habit they'll feed it any way they can, and if this method is denied them they'll just steal. That'll be better, will it? The problem is with the habit, not the profession.
 
And yes, one understands that women do sometimes get forced into prostitution. It must be true, because we read it in the papers. How, exactly, would legalising prostitution make this MORE likely? How would that work, exactly? Being a bus driver is perfectly legal, and no one coerces women to do it. Working behind the counter in Boots is perfectly legal, but I don't see any large gentlemen in flashy clothes dragging innocent girls off the street and shoving them behind the perfume counter.
 
Or do we really think that it's a good thing, forcing girls to work on the cold streets, in the dark, scared of their pimps, scared of their punters and scared of the police? At the very least, Jean Johnson's campaign offers the prospect of removing one of these fears. That's got to be progress, hasn't it?
 
By the way 600 brothels in Hampshire? Just think of the Council Tax and VAT if they were legal
 

 
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