January 10, 2010

OK, so we all know that evangelical Christians aren’t that keen on men lying down with men and all that. And that they’re quick to quote rules from the Old Testament (conveniently ignoring the ones about eating shellfish and stuff) to back them up.

Iris Robinson, wife of the Northern Irish First Minister, is a particularly fine example. (The picture is a mask of her at Belfast Pride.) She has called homosexuality an “abomination” and said it makes her nauseous. She’s also described it as “disgusting”, “loathsome” and “vile” and ┬ácomparable to paedophilia – claiming her views were based on “biblical pronouncements”.

So the story splashed all over the news about her affair with a 19-year old brings a certain satisfaction – especially as the chapter in Leviticus which she’s fond of using against gay folk calls adultery an abomination too.

Not to mention the dodgy financial dealings that accompanied the affair, which would make anyone nauseous.


Je Thames

March 28, 2008

The Sun newspaper is a British institution. Love it or loathe it, its cheeky chappy charm is part of the culture. The punning headlines are much imitated but seldom equalled – there’s some real skill going on there, the kind that makes it looks easy when it really isn’t.

Today’s front page headline is an instant classic, for a story about the French president and his new wife (or “Sarkozy ‘n Carla” as The Sun refers to them) photographed as they “canoodle” (does that word ever get used outside the tabloids?) on a river-trip in London:


It’s not your standard pun, it’s even kind of clumsy, but somehow it works.

It also give an indication of how much trans-Channel relationships have changed since the day when their front page was addressed to another Frenchman:



February 29, 2008

While flicking through the newspaper, my eye was caught by an article entitled ‘Groin turns into no-go area for luckless Italians’. This relayed the news that “Italy’s highest appeals court has ruled it is a criminal offence for Italian men to touch their genitals in public.”

Well, nobody likes a fiddler, but this seems a little harsh. Especially as “a quick grab” is apparently a traditional Italian superstition to ward off bad luck when a hearse drives past or someone mentions a terrible illness. (I’m sure there’s a “touch wood” joke in there somewhere…)

But the times they are a-changin’. The court ruled that the old tradition “has to be regarded as contrary to public decency, a concept including that nexus of socio-ethical rules requiring everyone to abstain from conduct potentially offensive to collectively held feelings of decorum.” (I suspect it sounded a lot better before the translation.)

The thing that really caught my eye, though, was the Italian expression for a man’s dangly bits: “attributi”. I love it. I don’t know if this is a serious term or if it’s used with the same sort of humour as the British “crown jewels”, but henceforth I intend to refer to my meat and veg, on the rare occasions that I have cause to mention them, as “my attributes”.


May 31, 2007

The military have come up with some fascinating phrases in their time (I’m thinking ‘friendly fire’ here) to try and take the edge off the kind of thing you really can’t take the edge off.

But I find it particularly odd that the word ‘rendition‘ has been chosen to describe the practice of flying suspects to far-off places – ‘rendering’ them (unto Caesar?), I suppose – where they can be detained and tortured without anybody asking awkward questions.

Rendition – a word once more commonly associated with music. The phrase “What a lovely rendition” will never be the same again. Not that I ever said it, but I picture some fur-clad old lady at a private concert in the drawing-room of a stately home floundering around for a new word now that her favourite one has been appropriated.

On the BBC2 programme Mystery Flights, Tyler Drumheller, the former head of CIA covert operations in Europe, blamed the American administration for creating an atmosphere of “rage and vengeance”.

Now, there’s a man with a feel for words.