Gale's force

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Like, I suspect, many readers, I get heartily sick sometimes of the "anything goes" mentality of the assorted liberals and lefties who write for this newspaper. So excuse me if I cannot join in the whining and hand-wringing that has accompanied this week's victory for pro-family forces. Journalist Bill Oddie of the Daily Mail and his parliamentary team (the Goodie-goodies?) have wrought wonders in stopping the Family Something and Whatsits Bill, which I'm told would have destroyed the essential and natural distinction between violence committed by proper husbands and that by mere live-in lovers.

It is little short of miraculous that a small band of doughty fighters should have been able to derail one piece of legislation - and now stand poised to do the same for the infamous Divorce Bill of Lord Mackay of Clashfern (a Scots Presbyterian who probably does not quite comprehend the importance that we strait-laced English folk attach to the institution of marriage). They deserve our thanks and - for a few short moments - our attention.

Of Lady Olga Maitland, doting wife of Lord Olga Maitland, I have already written. Nothing that this estimable MP could do would ever surprise me. So it is time to swing the spotlight of fame on to her brave colleague Roger Gale. Mr Gale is parliamentary neighbour to Jonathan Aitken - and thus the MP from another Thanet.

What puzzles the cynics of the anti-family press is how Mr Gale manages to be so vociferous in his condemnation of easy divorce - and yet is on to the third Mrs Gale, without ever having experienced the sadness of widowerhood. Wendy came in 1964 and departed just three years later. Susan walked the aisle in 1971, but lasted only until 1980. Another Susan took her place shortly afterwards. So (sneer the feminists) is Roger not being completely hypocritical?

Even I, as a well-adjusted and normal heterosexual man, can see how attractive Roger Gale must be for many women. His very name suggests a certain breezy sexual self-confidence.

Now I have not spoken to Mr Gale about the Divorce Bill, but I am prepared to venture some guesses as to why this honourable multiple divorcee is himself so opposed to liberalising divorce. Firstly, it is possible that he knows that easier divorce would mean more divorce. Had such laws been available earlier, he may have ruminated, might he not have found himself married a disastrous eight or nine times?

Second, Mr Gale is chairman of the all-party animal welfare group and has campaigned for reprieves for Dempsey the Dog and Otis the 'Ound. He cares about dumb beasts and understands, I'm sure, all too well the psychological trauma that can be caused to them by familial breakdown. He has, if you like, heard the howling in the night.

But if you ask me to plump for one all-important psychological factor in his rejection of the permissive legacy of the Sixties, it is I call "the shock of self-recognition". Permit me to illustrate. This week, the Independent Television Commission reported on its survey into attitudes towards nudity in advertising. Many people were now prepared to accept that shower gels could appropriately be advertised by naked actors in showers, provided that they were not soaping themselves suggestively. They could also accept a late showing for a Darcyesque chap up to his waist in pond water wearing only underpants (an Australian brand, appropriately called "Dim" - proof positive that most ads are aimed at women).

But what they could not cope with was the merest glimpse of male buttocks. Overwhelmingly, older men led this rejection. Every second's exposure, said the report, fuelled fear of an imminent parting of the lobes and a sudden sighting of that which lies between and behind. They were feeling the shock of self-recognition - of undesirable exposure of their nethermost regions. And what more natural than that an intelligent and sensitive man like Mr Gale should feel it, too? I bet he doesn't wear Dim underpants.

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