There were some interesting pieces in the papers last week. I’ve probably said this before but I’ll say it again, we get “The Athens News” and “The Daily Mail” every Friday. More than this we can’t afford. Newspapers at 2.50 euro a piece work out quite expensive if you over indulge so 5 euro a week is quite enough to splash out on ephemeritha. (I wonder who it was who decided the euro had no plural.) I remember back in the good old days in London sitting down on a Sunday and going through five or six Sunday papers without batting an eyelid and this on top of the morning and evening ones during the week, and we were in a financial situation no better than now, so what happened? Guess inflation happened. Anyway, the reason for getting the Mail on a Friday is because that is the day of the reviews: books, theatre, cinema. Also there are a couple of journalists whose writing I like. At the moment the paper is gathering up its skirts like Auntie Mildred about members of parliament and their thieving ways, threatening them with private prosecutions with the help of donations from the reading public. Quite right too is wot I says. How dare Brits point the finger at Greek corruption when it would seem the Greeks turn out to be slightly amateurish compared to their own MPs? I bet there are some Greek MPs who wish they had the chutzpah to thieve to the same extent. One or two of them have of course but it would seem the British parliament is currently, and has been for quite a while, a stink bed of greed and corruption. Whatever happened to socialism and socialist ideals? Po po po as the Greeks would say! But this isn’t really what I wanted to write about.
Academe really breeds some very strange creatures. The first piece from the Daily Mail is headlined THANK GOD FOR OUR DINNER? WE’D RATHER NOT, SAY STUDENTS, and is all about replacing a religious grace before meals with something more in line with modern thinking so the girls at Newnham’s in Oxford have come up with ‘For food in a hungry world, for companionship in a world of loneliness, for peace in an age of violence, we give thanks.’ I think that is not only poetic but beautiful, simple and apt. Because it is traditional at university to say grace in Latin, this one goes Pro cibo inter esurientes, pro comitate inter desolatos, pro pace inter bellantes, gratias agimus. I don’t care whether it is in Latin or English, the thoughts are beautiful but there is a certain person who disagrees and here we come to the strange academic creature aforementioned, one Mary Beard, fellow of Newnham who says the change is an insult to Latin, though without howlers. Writing on line she said: ‘The undergraduates’ rewrite was a classic case (get the pun?) of disguising a load of well meaning platitudes in some posh dead language, which was actually an insult to that dead language.’ What on earth is she on about? Well, looking at her photograph, this rather plain, sad looking lady really needs to get a life. Congratulations undergraduates. Your new grace is terrific and bon appetit or, if you want it in Greek, kali orexsi.
Now to the second article that caught my attention. Littlejohn. I invariably enjoy Littlejohn’s column and usually find I am in agreement with what he says and this article is no exception. It is about adoption. He writes, ‘We’ve become used to the tiresome bigotry of homosexual fundamentalists smearing anyone remotely opposed to even the wilder excesses of the gay “lifestyle”. But the accusation of mental handicap is relatively recent. It marks a new low in the nastiness of what was once a perfectly respectable cause … the homosexual equality movement has been hijacked by hysterical headcases with ever more extreme demands. You can never make too many concessions to them, they just keep coming back for more, hoping to wear down their opponents with vile abuse. I get it all the time even though this column was one of the first in the Popular Press to support civil partnerships and argue in favour of gay rights in such fields as employment, housing, and employment.’ I agree with him. The pendulum has swung far too far but hopefully when the hysteria dies down it will start swinging back again. Now we come to his opinion on gay couples adopting. According to Littlejohn it should be banned and here again I agree with him but my argument is not his argument. I have never felt the urge of the selfish gene but there are of course gays of either sex who want desperately to be fathers and mothers. They can produce children naturally or by in vitro fertilisation or they can adopt, but why on earth should they want to take on the responsibility of someone else’s child with all that entails? How many thousands and thousands of pounds does it take to bring up a child these days and why would you want the responsibility of nurturing an infant that could be nothing but trouble in the years to come? Leave it to its natural parents? The natural parents of some simply don’t want to know, others have mothers who have no regard for them but go off on holiday leaving them abandoned or on holiday leaving them abandoned in hotel rooms or at the mercy of violent partners leading to torture and possibly death. There is nothing new about neglected children. Many years ago they were known as ‘key kids’ and in winter you could see outside every second pub, kids standing in the freezing cold nibbling on an arrowroot biscuit while their parents were getting slowly sozzled in the warmth inside. A great many men take absolutely no responsibility for the offspring they have engendered. Why should a gay couple want to take on their responsibility? Better to get a pet. There are thousands of children evidently in the UK, all over the world, who are at risk of cruelty, abuse, and neglect from parents, step-parents, partners. Unfortunately, though there are loving parents, not all heterosexual couples are capable of giving a child what he or she needs. There are too many fucked up offspring of fucked up parents as one of my American students put it. There is no guarantee that a couple is going to stay together (I asked in one of my classes how many students came from a broken home. Of seventeen, thirteen put up their hands and a few of the girls started to cry) or that any child is going to be brought up in a warm, safe, loving home and, if a gay couple are prepared to and can give it that, what is the objection? The only objection as far as I can see is from peer pressure and bullying. “Where is your mummy?” ‘I don’t have a mummy, I have two daddies.’ “Ha ha ha, queers queers quers!” And the child of course is distraught because his/her household is not considered ‘normal.’ This apart, what objection can there be? Two male friends in Queens (no jokes please) New York adopted a baby Mexican girl, deciding on it even before she was born because the parents simply didn’t want it. Abortion of course is another matter. They are treated by their neighbours, the school, the child’s friends in the most normal way possible. If it is sexual abuse that is the worry, fathers have been known to sexually abuse not just their daughters but their sons and child pornography it would seem is mainly a product of heterosexuals and of course paedophiles which does not mean homosexual though people are always confusing the two. There are absolutely no guarantees in the upbringing of a child so why should Littlejohn state without equivocation that gays should be banned from adoption?
But I wholeheartedly agree with him, for their own sakes gays should not take on the responsibility of bringing up someone else’s child. It is just too much hassle, in the end possibly too much heartache. Is it really worth it?