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Traditional Marriage (revised edition)

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2013 by Miche Tagged: , , ,


In the debate – or what passes for debate – about marriage equality, on both sides of the Irish border, a lot of breath is being wasted in re-enactments of civil liberties battles already won and lost. Some of the opponents of marriage reform are opposed to homosexuality itself, and would like to turn back the clock to a time when gay people had the decency to live out their lives in fear, shame and concealment, so that the rest of the world could pretend they weren’t there.

Those people can’t really be argued with in any constructive way. As soon as you try, they whizz about like Daleks shouting <LEV-IT-I-CUS!> or <AD-AM-AND-STEEEEEEVE!> and you just have to walk away.

They will never be persuaded. But they can be outvoted. And to do that, we might well need the help of what I’ll call the sympathetic objectors – the people whose views might be expressed thus:

I have no quarrel with gay people. I totally accept that your sexuality is different from mine. I respect your right to live your life, and love who you love, and I oppose discrimination against you. But I think it’s a step too far to ask for a redefinition of marriage: the centuries-old institution of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

If that’s you, I have some observations to make. They’re not original, but they might be worth considering.

When people talk of “traditional marriage” they are, I think, talking of a bond freely entered into by two people who are equals. That’s actually a very modern idea.

For centuries, in the great institution of traditional marriage, a husband became the possessor of his wife’s property. The line in the marriage vows: “With all my worldly goods I thee endow” was a monstrous hypocrisy. A wife had her paraphernalia – her clothes and her jewellery and various bits and bobs that she could dispose of as she saw fit – but that was all.

Indeed, for centuries, in the great institution of traditional marriage, a husband was the possessor of his wife and any children. He could SELL THEM.

For centuries, in the great institution of traditional marriage, it was almost impossible to escape from a marriage that had broken down. A woman who fled from an intolerable marriage could not hope to have custody of her children.

All of those things have changed. And the trend has always been towards greater justice, equality, fairness. Society’s norms and expectations change faster than institutions can keep up. But every now and then those institutions are revised, reformed, redefined to bring them in line with what people want, need and expect.

So. Yes, extending civil marriage rights to same-sex couples is a significant reform. But not the first or the greatest. Just another step in the right direction.



Cruelty to royals

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2012 by Miche

Sooner or later, a child (not yet born, but whose conception is front page news) will be taken aside and given The Talk.

Not the “birds and bees” talk. Not the “While you are living under one of one’s roofs you will abide by one’s rules” talk. Not even (or at least not only) the “For god’s sake be careful what you do when there might be cameras about – don’t be like your uncle Harry” talk. No, it will be the “You were chosen by destiny to be the nation’s sovereign some day” talk.

Poor kid. Mama or papa, or grandpapa or great-grandmama, or Explainer Pursuivant or some other lackey, will sit it down and tell it the unpleasant truths.

“You will be head of the Church of England, so you’ll have to believe in God. No, let me rephrase that: you’ll have to profess a belief in God, and attend religious worship every Sunday until you die. You can be a secret atheist, like half the bishops in the C of E, but you must never breathe a word of it. Not even to a Dimbleby.

“The good news is that you can now marry a Catholic. You can’t be one, but you can marry one. Indeed you can marry anyone you like, subject to approval and vetting. The bad news is that you have to marry and have at least two children. No, you don’t have a choice.

“What do you mean, ‘What if I grow up to be gay’? Not an option. If you had an older brother or sister, that might be OK so long as you were discreet and took care to breed. But then if you had an older brother or sister you wouldn’t accede to the throne. Swings and rindabites.

“Everyone you meet will have formed an opinion about you beforehand. They might love you or hate you, but nobody will ever judge you on your own merits. On the plus side, you’ll definitely get into Cambridge. Or St Andrews, or Aberystwyth, or wherever we decide you’ll go. Oh, yes, you’ll need to learn a bit of Welsh.

“You’ll serve in the Navy, of course. Oh yes you will.

“‘Choice’? Why do you keep using that word? Take my word for it, the only choice you’ll ever make is whether to have jam or marmalade.”

Hereditary monarchy is absurd, but it is also cruelty to children.


Not without a ring, you don’t.

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2010 by Miche

(See this Guardian article.)

Mr Fawlty, 81, said it would be impossible to continue running the hotel if forced to stop discriminating between “le ton” and the hoi polloi. “We get all sorts of rabble as it is. I go into the rooms to collect the breakfast trays and sometimes find the complementary Daily Mail has been absolutely untouched,” he says. “So of course I spit in their scotch broth at lunch. I’m only human.

“Just last week I let a twin room, in all good faith, to a couple of wholesome-looking and well-spoken young men. When they were checking out, they said the single beds had been a bit small, so they were very glad of the spacious bathtub!

“Time was when you could bash a Spaniard with a teaspoon and more or less get away with it. Nowadays, just because someone pays for a room, you’re expected to let them treat it as a room they’ve paid for! It’s political correctness gone coal. No, not coal. Wallaby?”

Asked for comment, Mrs Fawlty said: “He told me he had a dicky ticker. That was in 1968.”


More shelves

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2010 by Miche

Miche Doherty

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In Uncategorized on September 11, 2010 by Miche

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Happy Eric Morecambe Day

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2010 by Miche

Eric Morecambe

"This boy's a fool."

Eric Morecambe was born on May 14th, 1926. He would have been 84 today. With Ernie Wise, he brought a lot of laughs to several generations of TV viewers.

I mean no disrespect to Ern – whose talent and contribution to the act are often underestimated – when I say thet Eric was the nation’s Funny Uncle. It’s just about impossible to see his picture or hear his name without smiling.

I humbly propose that May 14th should be Eric Morecambe Day, and we should all celebrate it by doing something silly that makes someone laugh. If it involves glasses awry, a pair of curtains and a fake strangle, or the words “There’s no answer to that,” so much the better.

Happy Eric Morecambe Day.


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How I will cast my vote, snufflebottoms.

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 by Miche

[With apologies to Stephen Fry]

First of all: aren’t you lovely?

Oh, pish, tush and buttercups. Of course you are. Don’t be so blessed silly as to suggest that you aren’t. Find something shiny and reflective and take a look at yourself, if you doubt me. You probably have three or four iPads lying about; one of those will do splendidly. You are now looking – or will be, when you reach the end of this sentence (and fear not, for a bespoke, new-minted, hand-finished full stop or “period” of the highest possible quality is at hand and ready to be deployed at precisely le moment juste, as La Rochefoucauld probably never called it, quicker than you can say “Robert Robinson”) – at a gorgeous angel in human form who, at my merest flimsiest triflingest whim, has clicked on that immortal brainchild of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a hyperlink, in order to discover, ascertain or verify my voting intentions for the Great Winnowing that is nigh upon us.

(There it is! A full stop. Did you fear, gentlest peruser of this arsedrivel, that that sentence was going to caper, cavort, gambol and rollick until it quite lost the run of itself and pelted away like a wheel of cheese down a Gloucester hill? I did, darlingest one. I really did.)

So, after your enormous kindness – your pert-cheeked, apple-dumplinged, hot-buttered-crumpetingly obliging response to my exhortation – it would be perverse of me to withhold the information you seek, wouldn’t it? Ridiculously, scrofulously, Blue-Peter-Garden-vandalisingly perverse.

And yet withhold it I shall.

But not entirely, chipmunks of my heart, for I am not made of adamantine stuff. This much I will vouchsafe. I will vote in one of two ways: with a downward stroke from right to left, followed by an upward stroke; or with an upward followed by a downward.

Bless. x

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