Week in, week out

William Hartston reveals the truth behind the decision to abandon Paula Jones's case against the president
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The Independent Online
What a good week it has been for Bill Clinton. On Thursday came the news that the case of Paula Jones v William Jefferson Clinton would not go ahead. An Arkansas judge, we were told, had thrown out all the charges.

But was it really so simple? Combing the hairier fringes of the week's news stories, we have found remarkable evidence of links between academics in Britain and San Diego which may have played a vital role in this whole affair.

The story begins in New Orleans at last week's meeting of the Society of Behavioural Medicine. According to one paper read at the meeting, researchers at the University of California at San Diego have been correlating people's lifespans, as recorded on 27 years' worth of death certificates, with their initials. The results showed that people with cheerful initials, such as JOY and GOD, live significantly longer than those with initials such as BUM or PIG.

"People are usually pretty careful not to name their kid Knucklehead, but I guess it's easy for parents not to notice what's happening with the initials. They need to watch that," said Nicholas Christenfeld, a psychologist.

But what, you may ask, has this to do with WJC, the well-known president and philanderer? His initials would seem to come into the "neutral" or "meaningless" category, suggestive of an average lifespan.

Not when you think about them. Haven't you ever wondered why he calls himself "Bill" and not "William". Forget his ostentatious middle name, and you will see the reason. William Clinton is WC - a most unappealingly lavatorial combination, and reason enough for him to change the W into a B.

That, however, left him with the first-name combination of BJ which, our researches have revealed, is an American colloquialism for oral sex, or blow-job. It is any wonder, then, that Mr Clinton, with his self-esteem shattered at being named after a public convenience, should seek solace in that particular manner? Would TS Eliot have written such fine poetry if his initials had been reversed and his whole name made to read "toilets" backwards?

Yet that is only half the story. While the behavioural medics were strutting their stuff in New Orleans, the British Psychological Society was adding more potential fuel to Clinton's defence at its annual meeting in Brighton. A paper by Stephen Evans of Keele University showed the results of playing unusual folk music songs to women in their 21st week of pregnancy. The tunes played to them were subsequently shown to have a soothing effect on their babies. The rate of kicking of a baby was reduced by half when it was played a tune it "recognised".

Just think what Clinton's lawyers could have made of all this. Was it possible that his mother had listened to Lou Davis's tempting ballad "Hot Lips". What prenatally corrupting effect might it have had on the foetal president to have heard Bessie Smith telling him that "'Tain't No Sin to Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around in Your Bones"? Even an apparently innocent chorus of "Heigh-ho Blow the Man Down" could have been held responsible for all his subsequent problems.

Add those mitigating circumstances to his possible plea of WC Initial Induced B-J Transference Syndrome, and you will understand why the case against Bill Clinton would never have stood up in court.

Even the matter of his allegedly curved penis might have been explained by hearing the song "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana", yet in view of another of the week's academic findings, even that might not have been necessary, because according to data presented at the meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans, a golf swing can create a terrible twisting effect. Comparing golfers with non-golfers, researchers have identified a twist in the bones of the spine caused by the stress of swinging golf clubs. And, it must be asked, if this can twist your vertebrae, what might it do to a malleable penis? Curved genitals? It's all torque!

Finally - and nothing to do with Clinton - the erratum of the week. Headed "Mexico - bodily parts", the following correction appeared on news wires: "In a March 28 story about the remains of national heroes, the Associated Press erroneously reported that the severed arm of a former president and general in Mexico's 1910-1917 revolution is preserved under glass. The arm of Gen Alvaro Obregon was displayed for many years at a Mexico City monument, but was removed and cremated in late 1989. The ashes were buried with the rest of his remains in the north-western state of Sonora."