I have to say I was completely taken aback this week by Iris Robinson’s admission that she had a “very lovely psychiatrist” in her offices who helps “turn around” homosexuals.
It an illustration of why it is becoming so damned hard to write satire in
And no, I’m not getting up on my high heels here at the DUP’s Christian fundamentalism – we know exactly what we’re getting when we (or some of us at least) vote them in.
You see, three years ago, I wrote a novel Running Mates, a comic-thriller set against a cooked race for the Irish presidency. And in it, I dreamed up a trenchant rightwing contender, whose sidekick was a Jesuit psychiatrist with a speciality in, you’ve guessed it, “curing” homosexuals.
In creating the character of Monsignor George Behan – who became known to all as
Iris, I fear, however, has now knocked me right off the chart.
For the record ‘Benders’, as I fondly refer to him, was the president of Saving Ireland from Sodomy. In one scene, he tells one client: “You’re no deviant. I can tell by the cut of you, you’re no nancy-boy. You don’t gel your hair, you bite your nails and your tie and socks don’t match your suit. You’re not a homo, this is just a minor wiring problem and I’m the electrician who’s going to fix it. From my experience, only about one percent of the men I meet are genuine, un-savable poofters.”
As a first step in curing the client, Benders then gives him a copy of a magazine called Readers Wives and orders him to pick out one of the prettier ladies and pretend that he’s married to her.
Can I stress, stress and re-stress, that my intentions here were to lampoon and excoriate the excesses of the far right. To shame them for their intolerance and to mock them for their self-righteousness. Not give them ideas.
But every time you dream up something ridiculous about Irish politics, something so satirical that it could never ever happen, you pick up a newspaper to find some senior minister has just gone and knocked your efforts into a tin hat. Martin McGuinness writes goodbye poems for Ian Paisley, Hillary Clinton refuses to withdraw her nomination on the grounds that Obama could still get shot, and a Tory MEP indignantly stands over his decision to pay his wife three-quarters of a million pounds out of the public purse.
In my world, at least, Bend Em Back Behan gets just desserts, and his candidate ends up well, let just say, there’s some poetic irony involved. And that’s the real beauty of fiction – and why I prefer it a thousand times to the real world. You can at least pretend there’s some sort of karmic order there – and, if you don’t like the characters and you think it’s time they left the scene, you can mete out your own justice.
Mr Downey, from all of us here at CSNI, thank you, thank you, thank you. Although this article puts us to shame in style, content and wit, we are honoured to host this exclusive opinion piece.