Poor Iris. The First Minister’s wife has returned to the north of Ireland, we’re told, with on one side her ever-loving husband and on the other a nurse. Peter Robinson is reported in the Guardian newspaper yesterday as pleading for people and especially the media to leave them alone. The picture accompanying the report shows a grinning Peter at his desk in happier days with Iris standing beside him. Her right hand is placed lovingly over his right hand, her left hand is at the back of his neck, massaging or God knows what, and her head is thrown back, hair tumbling, as she laughs helplessly.
Sorry, Peter. It doesn’t work. The photograph in question shouts aloud: “Look at us! A loving couple! See how well we get on, the fun we have!” If you’re going to have photographs like that taken which highlight your relationship with your spouse, you can’t complain if the interest is maintained when things get less lovey-dovey, and tears and betrayal take over. That’s just how we are. We shouldn’t be concerned with the private lives of politicians but we are. And if politicians thrust their private lives at us, as the Robinsons did, they really shouldn’t complain when our appetite for tit-bits refuses to go away. Besides, Iris’s story carries an intriguing mixture of sex and money that bridges the gap between the private and the professional. Of course the media will go hunting after it again, of course the public will lap up what’s offered.
And should we say ‘Poor Brian Cowen’? Actually yes. I don’t like Cowen or his party, and in fact I stand to win a £1,000 bet if they do badly in the next general election. Providing that is Eoghan Harris wasn’t lying through his teeth when he took the bet with me in front of approximately 600 people in West Belfast a couple of years back…Where was I? Oh right. Brian Cowen has been put through the mangle over the past week about his hoarse voice and verbal slip-ups in an early –morning interview on RTE. In fact the slip-up lasted approximately 1.5 secs, when he then corrected it. Yes his voice was hoarse, as is my own early in the morning; and whether he had a few jars the night before or not I don’t know. He was HOARSE, for God’s sake. You’d think he’d taken a 19-year-old lover and got him £50,000 from a friendly businessman, the way some people go on.
The moral to be taken from all this is that you should never believe the media or politicians when they say the economy is the only thing on the general public’s mind. We’ve room and appetite for a whole lot more.