Christina Patterson: It's such hard work pursuing sex and power

With money you can buy your cure, but you can also feed your addiction
Click to follow
The Independent Online

In the age of the hard-working family, one man has been working harder than most. He's been driving hundreds of miles every week just to get the food to feed his family. He has worked hard to safeguard their well-being and their health. He has showered them with presents: cuddly toys, books, videos, flowers. In times of emergency, he has provided medical care. And all in quite challenging circumstances.

It wasn't as though he didn't already have responsibilities. He could have chucked it in! He could have washed his hands of the lot of them. He could, after years of struggle, and stress and hard work, have called it a day. He didn't, because he was brought up in a world where you stuck by your commitments even when they were hard. It was a world where you respected authority. A world where men were strong.

He didn't expect plaudits. He wasn't brought up to expect plaudits. But the press is so one-sided! Give us a break! He was doing his best. We all do our best. And now he's being called a "monster". Actually, it's not fair. He knows he's not perfect, but it's really not fair.

This, after all, is a man so concerned with his daughter's moral well-being that he decided to take the age-old advice to fathers, "to lock up your daughters", and remove her from the malign influence of her peers. Love hath no greater sacrifice, etc. And if it was a bit cramped at first, he soon made it better. All mod cons: a fridge, a telly, a cooking ring – even, after a while, a washing machine. And when nature took its course, he did what he could. Medical textbooks. Towels. Aspirin. Nappies. There were limits, of course, but what could he do?

And as she suffered, so did he. He doesn't have to manufacture the quality that the world's begging our prime minister to acquire, the quality that oozes from every pore in David Cameron's pink, shiny face. He's marinaded in empathy. He empathised with his mother, abandoned by his "waster" of a father. He empathises with his wife, who "never complained", and with his "second wife" (the usual word would be daughter, but let's not get pedantic) as she faced the challenges of her new life. "She never even complained," he said, "even when her teeth slowly went rotten and fell out of her mouth one after the other and she suffered day and night with unbearable pain and could not sleep." And when three of the children were ill beyond the healing powers of aspirin, he hatched a plan to save them.

OK, so there was a downside. Let's call a spade a spade. He did have sexual feelings for his daughter, and he did act on them. Not, as Elisabeth says, when she was 12 – he's not a paedophile, for God's sake! – but later, when he'd enacted the rescue from the moral swamp and when she was properly settled. She didn't want him to, it's true, but the pressure to do it was "too big to withstand". And it wasn't like it was a one-night stand. He stuck by her, even, to use Yeats's phrase, when she was "old and grey and full of sleep". Perhaps he should have stopped. OK, he probably should have stopped. But he got himself in a "vicious circle". He kept meaning to get out of it, but he kept putting it off. I mean, we all put things off, don't we?

Yes, Josef Fritzl, we do. And a fair number of us, judging by recent revelations in the red-tops, understand the "vicious cycle" of a pressure – well, a different sort of pressure – that's "too big to withstand". It's got a name, you know. They might not use it in Austria, but we call it "sex addiction" and it's really quite respectable. You just book yourself into the Priory, or a special clinic in South Africa and hey presto!

You need money, it's true. With money you can buy your cure, but you can also feed your addiction. With money, you don't need to lock anyone up. You just call Nazi Uniforms Reunited, or Dungeons R Us, and you have a whole bevy of luscious lovelies to pander to your every sexual urge. And you're paying for them, so nobody gets hurt, because prostitution is always an equal transaction where you get a busty blonde and they get a fat old elephant man, but they don't mind because they want to feed their children (or their heroin habit or their gangmaster or their pimp). With money, you get a "kingdom", too. You don't have to lock people up, because you're the boss and they'll say and do whatever you like. It's great fun! You should try it. Even when you're giving them bullshit, they'll always say yes. And if they don't, or if they're stupid, or ugly, or old, you just fire them. Life's too short to stick with idiots.

Look, you can have the kids. Loads of them, if you want to, though can't think why you'd want to. Usually, it's the dolly bird that makes you have more. But you don't have to have them in the same house! You get the bird, get the kids, and then get your people to sort it out. You can see them sometimes, but not every day! And a word to the wise on the sex front. You trade up! You don't want a toothless, grey-haired old crone. You've been working hard. You deserve better.

You don't have to do all this striving, and driving, and shopping, and lying. Poor you. You must be exhausted.