HoS and the WAGs

by Maria on January 18, 2008

A few years ago, I was quite pleased that no one in Ireland seemed too bothered that our married but separated prime minister Bertie Aherne lived with his mistress/girlfriend/partner and even brought her on foreign trips. Bertie hasn’t given me a lot of joy overall, but it was nice to think that the Irish public had better things to do than worry about his marital status. (A couple of years previously, a government front-bencher had been apprehended by the police in a park at night, in an area popular with rent boys and their clients. The media unsuccessfully tried to whip up a moral panic, and within 24 hours most callers to talk radio shows were expressing sympathy to the man’s family but saying the issue wasn’t of enormous public interest.)

My idea of our newfound sophistication was punctured by a couple of Brussels diplomats. The French were particularly annoyed as they felt everyone should understand the mistress’s carefully delineated position. It was just gauche, they thought, to bring one’s mistress to an official dinner and expect other people’s wives to sit down beside her. Soon enough, Bertie dumped poor Celia – and the press did take a great interest in that – and began to go to official functions by himself.

But now the French are hoisted on their own petard! Sarkozy’s man-eating girlfriend, who happens to be the spit of his recent ex-wife, might accompany him on a state visit to India next week. And because the Indians are particularly conservative when it comes to recognising non-marital relations, they don’t know where to seat Ms. Bruni for dinner or where she should sleep. It really is a bit rude to put your hosts in such a quandary. So much for Sarko being anything but gauche.

Bobby Fischer

by Chris Bertram on January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer has died. I’m disappointed that some blogs and are making a lot of his paranoid ravings. Maybe that’s a generational thing. If you were of the right age — and I was 13 in the summer of 1972 — then what you’ll remember is something different. The daily drama in Reykjavík stretched over months, the odd young American taking on the the Russians at their game, and millions of people taking an interest in chess for the first time. I think about playing against my dad, and finally getting good enough to beat him, and challenging others of my own age; of picking up the paper and trying to follow what had happened the previous day, and why. A strange talent who belongs forever in 1972, not since.