Saturday, January 30, 2010

Now that's what I call a balanced debate

Three for assisted suicide, two against.

Not the other way around, or the two sides evenly matched, nor even the pretence of impartiality - the Obs dipped into DiD, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society's phrasebook - the VES (DiD) doesn't like terms like euthanasia, or even assisted suicide (too depressing) preferring the more clinical and natural sounding assisted dying.

And look at the way the "debate" was illustrated - with a sympathetic picture of Debbie Purdy and partner Omar Puente, instead of a neutral symbol or image - all designed to manipulate emotion and massage public opinion.

Peter Hitchens isn't the only one who's sick of it. So am I.

Shout out to the Splintered Sunrise Massive

Big Up.

That's the son of an Anglican bishop pictured, acting a bit daft. But don't forget, boyz 'n' girlz, Tim Westwood, one of the founders of Kiss FM was and is a good DJ.

Yeah yeah yeah word up I've got my man here Ice Cube/Tim Dog/Tupac/Biggie Smalls/Snoop Dog here, so whassup, bro?
Silence.
Let's talk about the new record.
Stony Silence.
You've been working with Dr Dre
Silence.
It's out on Death Row Records and there's a lot of controversy around it.
Determined silence
Let's play the record

Reclaiming the Second Vatican Council

A smart sassy new blog here.


Remember folks, it's YOUR council. Don't let anyone hijack it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No, her halo hasn't slipped.

Has there ever been a political wife who's been dealt such an unfortunate set of cards in the game of life as Elizabeth Edwards?

Racking my brains I can't recall anyone else who's had to deal with the death of a much-loved son, a proliferation of vengeful cancer cells assaulting their body with such cruel efficiency that time's sands are inexorably draining away and a good-for-nothing husband who doesn't seem to have paid any attention to the very sex-"education" curricula he'd have foisted on hapless American youngsters had he made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Yet not only has Elizabeth Edwards handled this succession of awful crises with admirable aplomb - how many betrayed wives would give Christmas presents to their useless husband's illegitimate offspring? - she's also also built herself a career devoted to reforming healthcare for the common good. Devoid of self-pity or misery-induced lassitude, there's one word for Elizabeth Edwards and that is: magnificent. She is the La Stupenda of political spouses.

Typically, it's now, a time of the acutest personal sadness for Elizabeth - the failed presidential candidate has  just confirmed suspicions that they've separated - that the news media has decided to indulge in its favourite sport, scything down the tallest poppies syndrome.

This offering by New York Daily News grotesque, Jane Ridley, was typical of the genre.

"No woman deserves cancer or a cheating husband, but Mrs. Edwards has done herself no favors," declared Ridley sweetly before going on to assail Elizabeth for having the nerve to write a memoir, Reslience, about what must have been a deeply painful episode, or "invading her own privacy" as she put it. There are further thumbs down for the fact that Elizabeth described her husband's dopey-looking mistress, actress manquée Rielle Hunter as "one of those people ... who look at our lives, which from the outside in particular are pictures of joy and plenty, and want it for themselves." Most fair-minded people would say Elizabeth was restrained to the point of martrydom in that collection of sentences but Ridley's still not done.

'The mother-of-three pompously guided Oprah [as opposed to "meekly guided Oprah", "shamefacedly guided Oprah", "prostrated herself before Oprah, beat her breasts and begged her forgiveness before leading her into the executive lounge] through her grand $6 million home. Worse, she coldy [!] referred to Hunter's daughter as "it", as in, "It doesn't look like my children."'

How, in the name of all that's good and holy, does Ridley expect wives to refer to their husband's born-on-the-other-side-of-the-blanket kids? My dear spouse's charming toddler conceived with his mistress during his extramarital affair?

Maybe there'd be some women daft enough to oblige but Elizabeth isn't one of them. She's not a doormat or an emotion-free drone. She's a smart, sassy, attractive woman and the best thing which ever happened to John "I feel pretty" Edwards. I hope she takes him to the cleaners.

Meanwhile, this blog ventures to make a suggestion to the most powerful man in the world: if you want to prevent healthcare reform from becoming another Clintonesque dog's dinner, Mr President, you need to have someone who can steer the healthcare debate in the right direction. You need a Healthcare Tsar, Mr President. Step forward, La Stupenda. She'd be far and away the best person for the job and oh, the biting jealousy it would inspire in John Edwards would be an added, richly savoured benefit.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Never Again

It's the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.























If this is a man

You who live safe
In your warm houses;
You who find on returning in the evening
Hot food and friendly faces:


Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a bit of bread
Who dies because of a yes and because of a no

Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
Without enough strength to remember
Vacant eyes and cold womb
Like a frog in the winter:

Reflect on the fact that this has happened:
These words I commend to you:
Inscribe them on your heart
When staying at home and going out,

Going to bed and rising up;
Repeat them to your children:
Or may your house fall down,
Illness bar your way,
Your loved ones turn away from you.

Primo Levi

Sunday, January 24, 2010

That's not the way to do it

Reverend Stephen Sizer (pictured below) the incumbent at Christ Church, an Anglican parish in stockbroker-belt Virginia Water, Surrey, is a man with strong feelings about Israel/Palestine. Ok, fine, lots of people have too. But what's not so fine is the way he seems to have reacted to blogger, Seismic Shock's online polemics.
Seismic shock, who has very different views on Middle Eastern politics to Sizer and has openly expressed his view that Sizer is a disreputable person on his blog, got a seismic shock when he was paid a visit by PC Plod, as he explained:

A sergeant from the Horsforth Police related to me that he had received complaints via Surrey Police from Rev Sizer and from Dr Anthony McRoy – a lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology – who both objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers.



The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat, in which I agreed to delete my original blog (http://seismicshock.blogspot.com) but maintain my current one (http://seismicshock.wordpress.com). [What powers have they got to tell you to delete a blog? And an “informal chat”? It’s pleasant when you can have informal chats with the police, which I have when someone left my front door open and they came in to check that the house hadn’t been burgled. But if they were coming to speak about my blog I would turn very formal on them.] The policeman related to me that his police force had been in contact with the ICT department my previous place of study, and had looked through my files, and that the head of ICT at my university would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers (I am sure other people use university property to make political comments, but nevermind). [Bloody hell! My work cuts off all access to blogging, reasonably if annoyingly as I can’t even do any posts or comments at lunchtime. I can’t see them using the police as messengers in a matter of internal discipline. So Seismic is being investigated?]

And that's not all. Huh! Of course it isn't. Stephen Sizer, or possibly someone pretending to be him, also left the following gloatingly threatening message on Vee's blog - Vee is an Australian Christian who seems to hold some fairly pro-Israel views and links to Seismic Shock -

Stephen Sizer says:



January 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Dear Vee,

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.

Blessings


Stephen

Very charming.
Quite understandably on the Harry's Place comms box Seismic Shock described himself as "a bit intimidated" by the whole affair, as well he might have been. What, are we in Canada, or something? Unless Seismic Shock had made a direct threat on Sizer's life - which he didn't, obviously - there's absolutely no reason to get the plod involved. As Francis Sedgemore put it: "Libel is a matter for civil and not criminal law and it is a gross misuse of police resources to have officers intervene as they have in the case of Seismic Shock"

If you're reading this and thinking to yourself that you'd like to tell Sizer's bishop that you're concerned that his behaviour is unseemly in a man of the cloth, then the contact details for the Bishop, Suffragan Bishop and Archdeacon of Surrey as well as their personal assistants' are all here.

Pub Skeptics



Skeptics in the pub sounds like fun.









The London group regularly holds pleasantly booze-soaked meetings about à la mode secularist obsessions: conspiracy theories, superstition and alternative-medicine. Since I enjoy a bit of verbal fencing with my ideological opponents and seeing the horrified looks on their faces when I inform them of the sorry history and present day extremism of contemporary "secularism" is always amusing especially if there's some ethanol around to loosen things up a bit, so I might check it out one of these days.

But gosh, doesn't it sound achingly middle-class:

"Argumentative types – scientists, academics, IT consultants, librarians and a light seasoning of lawyers – crammed into a room above a pub, on a sticky summer evening, wouldn’t do it for most people’s blood pressure. On the other hand, if Big Brother is ruining your summer, you might prefer this."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Glorious Louverture





When girlhood's fire was in my blood I read of ancient freemen
Of Sancho, Equiano, Cugoano and Coffay,
Three hundred men and three men.

I read of Sam Sharpe whose oratorical powers were said to be so marvellous that he could reduce grown men to tears when he spoke of the horrors of slavery, I read of Bussa and Tacky and of Cudjoe and Queen Nanny, leaders of those Caribbean cossaks, the Maroons. The Maroons were bands of runaway slaves who formed their own autonomous communities. In later years, some Jamaican Maroons turned Judas and betrayed Paul Bogle (whose surname delightfully came to be that of a sinuous Jamaican dance in the 1990s). And most of all,  I read about Toussaint.

Toussaint Louverture, the Caribbean Spartacus. As a student of course I read C.L.R James' classic account of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins. Toussaint - the name means All Saints - probably adopted a nickname as his surname; Caribbeans are apt to give their fellows nicknames describing their physical attributes, such as "bigga" for a large woman. Louverture translates as opening, or gap, possibly because Toussaint had a gap in his front teeth. Another theory is that his name was a reference to his uncanny ability to discern and exploit openings in the battlefield.

His lifetime's achievements were literally awe-inspiring, as this extract from the wikipedia article on him explains:

Born in Saint Domingue, in a long struggle for independence Toussaint led enslaved Africans to victory over Europeans, abolished slavery, and secured native control over the colony, Haiti, in 1797 while nominally governor of the colony. He expelled the French commissioner Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, as well as the British armies; invaded Santo Domingo to free the slaves there; and wrote a constitution naming himself governor-for-life that established a new polity for the colony.

Phew!

Louverture was unquestionably an extraordinary man but he was far from saintly. Successful revolutionaries never are. In 1800 he ordered enforced labour and executed his adopted nephew who opposed the policy and had backed workers demands for land reform. But still. Louverture's Constitution promulgated on July 8th 1801 remains a stunning document blazing with idealism.

Article. 3. - There cannot exist slaves on this territory, servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French.
Article. 4. – All men, regardless of colour, are eligible to all employment.
Art. 5. – There shall exist no distinction other than those based on virtue and talent, and other superiority afforded by law in the exercise of a public function.
The law is the same for all whether in punishment or in protection.

The revered Toussainst Louverture, who didn't quite get the point of religious liberty also made Roman Catholicism Haiti's state religion.

Art. 6. - The catholic, apostolic, roman faith shall be the only publicly professed faith.
Art. 7. – Each parish shall provide to the maintaining of religious cult and of its ministers. The wealth of the factories shall be especially allocated to this expense, and the presbyteries to the housing of ministers.
Art. 8. – The governor of the colony shall assign to each minister of the religion the extent of his spiritual administration, and said ministers can never, under any circumstance, form a corps in the colony.

And he steered well clear of abolishing private property:  The Paris Commune was decades away in the future, after all.

Art. 13. – Property is sacred and inviolable. All people, either by himself, or by his representatives, has the free right to dispose and to administer property that is recognized as belonging to him. Anyone who attempts to deny this right shall become guilty of crime towards society and responsible towards the person troubled in his property.

But the constitution was of enormous significance, nonetheless. No wonder Louverture addressed Napoleon as his equal: "From the First of the Blacks to the First of the Whites."

In the end he was defeated, of course. Bonaparte, that betrayer of the Revolution, sent his brother-in-law, General Leclerc with an expedition force of 20,000 men to retake Haiti and reinstitute slavery.

Just before the two sides met at the Battle of Ravine-à-Couleuvres, or Batay Ravin Koulèv in Haitian Kreyol, Louverture addressed his soldiers:

"You are going to fight against enemies who have neither faith, law, nor religion. They promise you liberty, they intend your servitude. Why have so many ships traversed the ocean, if not to throw you again into chains? They disdain to recognise in you submissive children, and if you are not their slaves, you are rebels. The mother country, misled by the Consul, is no longer anything for you but a step-mother. Was there ever a defence more just than yours? Uncover your breasts, you will see them branded by the iron of slavery. During ten years, what did you not undertake for liberty? Your masters slain or put to flight; the English humiliated by defeat; discord extinguished; a land of slavery purified by fire, and reviving more beautiful than ever under liberty; these are your labours, and these the fruits of your labours; and the foe wishes to snatch both out of your hands."

Louverture would be crippled by defections and betrayals. He surrendered, was captured and thown into a French jail where he was interrogated repeatedly before dying of pneumonia in 1803. But he had left his indelible stamp on history. Thanks in significant part to him, the institution of slavery would never be safe again. By the end of the nineteenth century it would be abolished everywhere in the Americas.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sto lat!

It's that time of year again.

Sto lat, sto lat, niech zyje zyje nam.
Sto lat, sto lat, niech zyje zyje nam.
Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, niech zyje, zyje nam.
Niech zyje nam!

jeszcze po kropelce
jeszcze po kropelce
póki wódka jest w butelce

Pijmy aż do rana
pijmy aż do rana
i śpiewajmy nana dana
jeszcze po kropelce
jeszcze po kropelce


Friday, January 15, 2010

Boże, coś Haiti

Na to wszystkich jedne głosy
Dosyć tej niewoli
Mamy Vertierskie kosy
L'ouverture Bóg pozwoli.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

"To the people of Haiti we say: you will not be forsaken, you will not be forgotten"

"In this your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you."

So said President Obama yesterday.

It's reassuring to hear but will he keep his promise?

The long-suffering people of Haiti, whose venerable ancestors were the Caribbean's tribunes of freedom, have been abandoned for too long.

Meanwhile former president Jean Betrand Aristide, affectionately known as Titid, has described the earthquake as "a tragedy that defies expression."

"My wife and I stand with the people of our country and mourn the death and destruction that has befallen Haiti," he said in a statement.

"It is a tragedy that defies expression; a tragedy that compels all people to the highest levels of human compassion and solidarity."

"From Africa, the ancestral home of Haiti, we send our profoundest condolences and love to the thousands of children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters worst affected," he said.

"To the entire nation, our love and wishes for strength and courage in this most difficult of times," he added.


Titid, a former Catholic priest, was the country's first democratically-elected leader who said and promised many exciting Maurice Bishop like things. And just like Bishop he would not be allowed to remain in office. Titid was ousted in 1991 by a military junta drawn from Haiti's snooty mulatto elite.

The 1994 US invasion, Operation Uphold Democracy removed the hated Raoul Cedras and his men but Titid remained - still remains in exile in South Africa.

Why is this?

And why was Titid's party, Fanmi Lavalas banned from participating in June's senatorial elections?

This is the country of Toussaint L'ouverture, for God's sake.



Hat tip: Andy Newman.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Charlatan Speaks

Pat Robertson has described Haiti's earthquake as "a blessing in disguise" and claimed the country has been "cursed" because of what he called a "pact with the devil" in its history.

His spokesman said the comments were based on Voodoo rituals carried out before a slave rebellion against French colonists in 1791.
"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson said during a broadcast.
"They (Haitians) were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil.

"They said 'We will serve you' ... and so, the devil said 'Okay, it's a deal' and kicked the French out."

Cry the beloved country


Another tragedy has hit the troubled Caribbean state of Haiti, this time an earthquake of unforgiving magnitude measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale followed by two aftershocks measuring 5.9 and 5.5 respectively. According to the Red Cross, some three million have been effected and 100,000 feared dead, among them 63 year old Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, Archbishop of Port au Prince

Donate to the relief effort here.

You are your brother's keeper.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vatican does NOT subscribe to contemporary theories of human sexuality shock!


Revelation comes as huge surprise to news anchors, leader writers and bloggers

 More Exclusive News:

* Planet Earth NOT flat, scientists say
* Rain falls from clouds
* Tobacco consumption linked to lung cancer
* Ever wondered where bears go to the toilet? In the woods!
* Pope actually IS a Catholic

Gissa job

Toby Young gets his arselikhan in first.

"[Rod Liddle] is one of the few journalists capable of sending an electrical pulse zapping through the body politic with a few strokes of the keyboard. He may be a professional controversialist, but he’s also fearless – a rare commodity in Fleet Street these days. And it’s this that makes him an ideal candidate to edit a national newspaper.

"I currently work as a freelance and write for a number of outlets, including the Independent on Sunday, from a shed at the bottom of my garden. It’s a nice life, enabling me to hang out with my wife and children whenever the mood takes me. Few things would tempt me back to a staff job on a newspaper, particularly the Independent, which is woefully under-resourced. But if Rod was appointed troublemaker-in-chief, I’d join him in a heartbeat. HL Mencken said the point of a good newspaper was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I can’t think of anyone better suited to that task than Rod Liddle."



Go on, go on, go on, gissa job. Pleeeease. I'll be your best frieeeend.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Caesar's wife must be above reproach




Rev Ian Paisley 'beyond fury' over Robinson sleaze as stories of Iris's affairs mount up.

While Paisley shares Iris Robinson's religious objections to homosexuality, he is said to be deeply disturbed that she was lecturing others while committing adultery.

Peter Tatchell hits back at "hyprocrite MP" Iris Robinson

“I’m sorry for the pain that Iris Robinson has suffered but she’s a hypocrite. Even now, despite her own adultery, she expresses no regret for her harsh, judgemental moralising against gay people. She is sad and two-faced.
It is terrible that Iris Robinson has been driven to attempted suicide and a mental breakdown. I feel very sorry for her. But it is a great pity that this painful experience has not softened her heart towards the suffering of lesbians and gay men.
Even now, she expresses no regret for her harsh, judgemental moralising against gay people. Iris seems as unforgiving as ever. She’s still unrepentant about her homophobia.”

Meanwhile, Iris Robinson is said to be "receiving acute psychiatric treatment" and calls for her husband to resign are reaching a critical level.

- Lord Trimble: Peter Robinson "can no longer deliver as first minister"
- Rev David McIlveen, close friend of Paisley: Peter Robinson's position is "untenable"
- Willy Frazer, FAIR: "Peter Robinson must resign. It's time to rebuild the credibility of unionist politicians."

Whoever said that politicians' private lives were entirely their own business has never sold a tabloid newspaper.

Sex and Power #2: Ekaterina Velikaya



Catherine, throughout her long reign, took many lovers, often elevating them to high positions for aslong as theyheld her interest, and then pensioning them off with large estates and gifts of serfs. Afterher affair with her lover and capable adviser Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin ended in 1776, he would allegedly select a candidate-lover for her who had both the physical beauty as well as the mental faculties to hold Catherine's interest (such as Alexander Dimitriev-Mamonov) Some of these men loved her in return, and she always showed generosity towards her lovers, even after the end of an affair. One of her lovers, Zavadovsky, received 50,000 rubles, a pension of 5,000 rubles, and 4,000 peasants in the Ukraine after she dismissed him. The last of her lovers, Prince Zubov, 40 years her junior, proved the most capricious and extravagant of them all.

Sex and Power #1: Valeria Messalina


Messalina, the most abandoned and lustful of women
Cassius Dio, Book LX

Then consider the God's rivals, hear what Claudius had to put up with.
The minute she heard him snoring
his wife - that whore-empress - who dared to prefer the mattress
of a stews to her couch in the Palace, called for her hooded night-cloak and hastened forth, with a single attendant.
Then, her black hair hidden under an ash-blonde wig,
she'd make straight for her brothel, with its stale, warm coverlets,
and her empty reserved cell. Here, naked, with gilded
nipples, she plied her trade, under the name of 'The Wolf-Girl',
parading the belly that once housed a prince of the blood.
She would greet each client sweetly, demand cash payment,
and absorb all their battering - without ever getting up.
Too soon the brothel-keeper dismissed his girls:
she stayed right till the end, always last to go,

then trailed away sadly, still, with burning, rigid vulva,
exhausted by men, yet a long way from satisfied,
cheeks grimed with lamp-smoke, filthy, carrying home
to her Imperial couch the stink of the whorehouse.
Juvenal Sixth Satire

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Subtle, perjur'd, false, disloyal men

Friday, January 08, 2010

Coo Coo Ca-Choo, Mrs Robinson!



I was going to write something along broadly sympathetic about Iris Robinson - guilt drove her to make an attempt on her life, dreadful shame etc etc - hoping to strike just as mature and worldly a note as Splints did but then I saw that her um, ex-boyfriend was NINETEEN (19)!

The last time I was this shocked was when it emerged that John Major, of all people, had been enjoying some late-night Curry suppers.

What on earth was Iris thinking of?

On second thoughts, I don't want to know what she was thinking of. Just one shock at a time, ok?

It goes without saying that Kirk McCambley, the other party to the affair, is from the Catholic community. Of course he is. If you're going to go in for a bit of walk-on-the-wild-side taboo-busting you may as well go the whole hog, so to speak.

It also goes without saying that BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight Programme made a number of allegations about the Robinson's financial dealings with McCambley. Auntie wouldn't have broadcast a documentary that was just about adultery, no matter how, er, eye-opening it was.

No wonder Peter Robinson looked so shell-shocked in the interview he gave on Wednesday.

A good deal of the comment about Iris Robinson's affair has naturally contrasted her ill-judged, less than charitable public pronouncements on homosexuality, which Iris is given to describing in lapidary Old Testament language as an "abomination" and comparing to child-abuse, with her extra-mural activities. Quite simply, she's charged with hypocrisy of the grossest kind.

It's partly true. I say partly because if you look at the timeline of events I think one can discern another possible explanation for her actions.

We are told that Iris's affair with McCambley began in Summer 2008, that it continued for about five months before the relationship ended acrimoniously and that four months later, in March 2009 she made an attempt on her life. That dates the beginning of the affair to somewhere between July and August 2008. In her statement, Iris said the affair began over a year and a half ago, which would date it to June 2008.

The affair began quite innocently, as these things so often do, with friendship; Iris comforted young McCambley whose father, Billy, died prematurely in February of that year. Whatever else may be said about her, Iris isn't an unattractive woman; she's aged well, looking more like a glamorous women in her fourth decade than a 60 year old. Press reports which dwell enviously on her "luxury home" in Belfast as well as properties in Florida and East London, said to be collectively worth in the region of £1.3 million indicate that far from a lifestyle of severe Protestant austerity, the audi-convertible driving Mrs Robinson has a taste for the finer things in life. The picture of her in her throwing her head back in exuberant laughter while her husband grins ackwardly next to her gives away the competing tensions in her mind. There's a hint of friskiness about her, wearing a tight top which displays the merest suspicion of cleavage. But resting demurely on the skin above is a cross.

At some point during the five or sixth month period between late winter and summer, Iris's feelings - and as her outbursts show, she's a passionate woman - spilled over into ardour. Did she fall in love with Kirk McCambley or was it a mere peccadillo? She herself said that the affair had "no emotional or lasting meaning". Maybe, maybe not.

But go back to that timeline again, it was in June 2008  - when she was either embarking on her affair or noticing a change in her feelings for McCambley and was about to do so - that she began haranguing the world about homosexuality.

On the 6th June 2008 just as Northern Ireland was reeling from the news of a shocking homophobic assault she told startled listeners of BBC Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show that homosexuality was "an abomination" which made her feel "sick and nauseous" and offered the services of a psychiatrist she knew to help "turn them around". In a subsequent interview she defended herself saying, "just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ so can a homosexual".

The Elim Pentecostal Church, to which Iris belongs, has a highly-coloured dramatic view of sin and redemption. Was that what was on Iris's mind at the time?

Later that month she told the Northern Ireland Grand Committee Session on Risk Assessment and Management of sex offenders that "there can be no viler act other than homosexuality and sodomy than sexually abusing innocent children". She went on to note that "a young person should have the emotional and psychological maturity to cope with the consequences of sexual activity."

Was Iris, conscious of her transgressions, attempting to purge the world  - her world - of sex?

On 17th July she spoke again to the Stephen Nolan show and quite unabashed declared that "it is the government's responsibility to uphold God's law".

Reading that comment with the benefit of hindsight it seems uncannily as though Iris was shifting the blame for her personal failure to keep the Divine law onto the government.

I suspect not only that Iris's anti-gay crusade coincided with her extra-marital affair but that the former was intimately related to the latter. The violence of her language about homosexuality - it made her "sick and nauseous" - recall the Old Testament themes of sin, filth and contamination which necessitate more than ritual cleansing but complete purging: "the earth will vomit you out", as Leviticus puts it. But what I think Iris was really expressing by all this was how tortured her conscience felt and how much she wanted her own life-disordering sins to be vomited out.

For now the vultures are circling around the Robinsons. Martin McGuinness has pronounced himself "shocked" at the revelations and demanded an urgent meeting with Peter Robinson while Sir Reg Empey openly speaks of a "post Robinson era". The fallout won't surprise Iris at all. She would have been aware of the fates she was tempting when she indulged in her risky affair - indeed the dangers probably added to the frisson pf the experience at the time. How she must be regretting it now.