Nick Clegg was forced into a clumsy climbdown last week when a press release issued by his office referred to people who objected to same-sex marriage as "bigots".
It was hastily recalled and the offending word altered to "some people". What's wrong with bigots, Nick? We're all bigots, to a greater or lesser degree. If the cap fits, wear it, I say. The Church of England announced that it found the term "very offensive", but religious organisations surely contain more bigots per capita than the average small town, Underground train or rural pub. As damage limitation kicked into action, Cleggie (below) withdrew the evil word, writing to the Church of England and Roman Catholic archbishops to say he would never use the term, stopping just short of a grovelling apology. All of which makes me loathe this wet rag even more.
Eric Pickles writes in a national newspaper that "this government is proud to do God … we must resist spurious legal challenges against religion". Eric, love, no one is coercing any church to marry same-sex couples, if they don't wish to. You can't pass laws forcing people to change the way they think – it just won't work. When politicians suck up to the church, it makes me feel queasy: they are not reflecting the mood of the public, who tolerate religion, as long as it lets them do exactly what they want.
The Anglican Church refuses to grant women equal status as bishops. A Roman Catholic charity in Leeds wants to block same-sex couples from adopting children in a deprived area of the city, even though there's a desperate need for parents. Who are the bigots? The BBC commissioned a survey for their RE:Think Religion and Ethics Festival in Salford last week, which found that six out of 10 young adults ranked looking after the family as their single most important moral issue, above religious faith. The number of people who say they belong to a particular faith or religious group in the UK dropped from 68 per cent in 1983 to just 53 per cent in 2011. Catholic and Anglican leaders should be thinking hard about who in modern Britain is a bigot. All people are equal in the eyes of God, as long as they are not gay or female.
Every picture tells a story
Photography has been a huge part of my life. I was married to one photographer, I lived with another for five years, edited this newspaper, and have worked in print since the age of 21, amassing a big collection of books and a few prints. A new exhibition at the Barbican, Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s (see review, page 61)is a sprawling unwieldy affair of more than 400 works showcasing the work of 13 very different masters, from William Eggleston to Sigmar Polke, covering momentous events in South Africa, the Deep South, the Ukraine and Vietnam. The best images distil a moment in time and present it in such a way you are breathless with the impact. Bruce Davidson is a favourite of mine. Here are the pictures he took as a 28-year-old in New York, joining the black rights campaigners on their freedom bus rides through the Deep South. Hatred and bravery leap out of the images he grabbed in the series Time of Change 1961-65, never seen before in the UK. His picture of two women at a New York lunch counter, taken in the early 1960s, offers another insight of the Mad Men era, one that's fraught with suppressed tension and conflicting emotions.
The Duchess of Cambridge is entitled to feel upset at the publication of pictures, obtained with a long lens, of her sunbathing topless on the terrace of a holiday house in France. Of course, it's an intrusion of privacy. The Duke and Duchess have decided to take legal action against Closer magazine in France, which printed them- but the damage has been done, the images are already circulating widely on the internet. The couple have an ambiguous relationship with the press. Last week on their tour of the South Pacific, the Duchess was photographed talking to a seriously ill little boy in a hospice. Surely that was an intrusion into that child's privacy? The Duchess (below) is an iconic confection, a skinny, immaculate young woman who says little and who gives the arcane institution of royalty a much-needed veneer of modernity. But someone should have reminded her that being a royal means you keep your top on at all times, even when you're in a private house – especially one that is clearly visible from a public road, albeit some distance away. For what it's worth, I was on a boat returning from St Tropez the other week, and Elton John was on board. A helicopter buzzed a few feet overheard and photographed me and some gorgeous men lying on the sun deck. The pictures are on the internet. I kept my top on. Not that JSP topless is worth much.
As a regular panellist on ITV's Loose Women, I was thrilled to hear that the Queen is a fan. Why not? We know she regularly tunes in to The Archers – and goodness knows, that everyday story of country folk hasn't delivered many laughs of late. No wonder LW is one of her guilty pleasures. When I went to a lunch for Women of Achievement at the Palace a few years ago, she disappeared promptly at 1.50, and I later discovered it was the historic day that Adam and Ian enjoyed the series' first gay kiss in a polytunnel full of strawberries. HM clearly didn't want to miss it. My fellow Loose Woman Denise Welch has told Piers Morgan that some servants at the Palace told her the Queen watches the show occasionally. One columnist described Loose Women as a show that doesn't do "anything too taxing" and is watched by housewives and the unemployed. What patronising crap. The show discussed Hillsborough on Thursday and connects with all sorts of people who stop me every day to say they love it.
Ask a group of distinguished scientists to define the key innovations in the history of food and drink and the results were bound to be controversial. The Royal Society selected three eminent Fellows from their 95 per cent male membership (including a Nobel prizewinner and an expert on obesity) to reduce a list of 60 suggestions down to 20, and they plumped for ... a fridge. Yes, that whirring monstrosity that monopolises our kitchens and is generally full of leftovers going mouldy, plastic containers of mystery stock, old goose fat and eggs long past their sell-by date. I hate fridges, pasteurised milk and tin cans – all selected by these dim boffins. These chaps clearly don't cook or they might have selected a knife, a pot or an oven. Not a good day for science. What's wrong with buying fresh food as you need it? A fridge does not encourage real cooking.