It is interesting that Alastair Campbell, the man who famously doesn't "do God" (except when it suits him), mentioned Psalm 56 when he wrote on his blog last week about the Iraq inquiry. "As I walked through the media scrum," he wrote, "I was glad to have read in the morning an email with Psalm 56 attached... 'What can mortal man do to me? All day long they twist my words, they are always plotting to harm me. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps...'." Poor, virtuous Alastair, we all thought, smiting ourselves for our wickedness.
I don't know how much of the Bible Campbell has read, but he and his anonymous email pastor have happened upon the part that most suits him. Among the stories of love, forgiveness and not picking on those weaker than oneself – all that nonsense that Campbell doesn't "do" – the Psalms stand out as uniquely self-righteous. Not for the Psalms the turning of the other cheek; instead, they run with blood and vengeance and the smiting of enemies. They ask not what you can do for your God, but what God can do for you: namely, punish people who disagree with you. Anyone looking to wage war in the name of religion – look no further.
It's been a rotten week for Our Father, who art in heaven, who must be looking down from there and vowing to change his PR company. He'll soon be sacking Archbishop Sentamu, who acquitted himself terribly on Radio 4 on Thursday when asked to account for the Haitian earthquake. It was great radio: to hear John Humphrys grilling God, as it were, about his bogus claims to be benevolent, but God didn't come out of the exchange very well. The archbishop talked about water and towers and insisted most vehemently that God is not a slot machine. "I'm not sure I understand that answer, to be perfectly frank with you," replied Humphrys, neatly summing up centuries of the futility of religious debate and the irrevocable oxymoron that is Christian logic.
If Sentamu is a shoddy spokesman, Stephen Baldwin ought to be struck with a thunderbolt for bringing the Almighty into disrepute. The former wild child and born-again Christian (why do those two addictions always seem to go together?) has been bamboozling his fellow celebrities in the Big Brother house with the Good News: God is great; evolution is a big fat lie; Stephen Baldwin is always right.... I'm not asking Richard Dawkins to be the next Z-lister through the doors (he'd only cop off with Katia, and he farts like a wizard after too many chick peas), but it would be nice if someone could respond with anything but a comedy dumb face when Stevie B says: "If we evolved from the monkeys, then why are there still monkeys? Hmm? Hmm?"
Meanwhile, the friendly face of Christianity has shown itself in unexpected places: the Vatican, and the Liberal Democrats. The iconoclastic Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has been overturning tables in the temple, daring to suggest that faith schools should address homophobic bullying and teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless". Church leaders are furious, because, as we all know, Jesus taught that bullying is good and that people who are different are evil – err, right? In the same week, the Pope – he of the fire, the brimstone and the weird antipathy to people not getting Aids – met the woman who attacked him on Christmas Eve, and forgave her. Did someone give him a copy of the New Testament for Christmas?
Perhaps God needs to restate His policies, because nobody seems to have a clue what He represents any more. Except, obviously, Alastair Campbell. For him, then, some wisdom from Psalm 55, which he might have missed as he flicked through looking for vindication. "My companion attacks his friends," it reads. "His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords...". Who knew that a prophesy of New Labour spin was written in the scriptures?
Exposé: Winter outed the Ugg – no good to girl or beast
One of the funniest things about Britain experiencing freak weather is that success in dealing with it tends be divided along gender lines. For instance, when last summer's Hyde Park concerts coincided with a temporary heatwave, women's summer fashions (cotton maxi dresses and sandals) largely proved to be more practical options than men's (tight skinny jeans and lots of polyester). This winter, however, women have been let down by their fashion choices.
Ugg Boots turn out to be the primary culprit. Generally worn by 19-year-old models with long legs, short skirts and little else, their main purpose is to show smugly that you can still look cute in really ugly clothes. Their main purpose is not for walking in snow, rain, mud or slush, because they have gripless soles and absorb water, but many girls have been stubbornly butching it out, nonetheless.
Men, however, have survived quite well through the snow storms, largely because they relish an excuse to go to Millets and cannot resist being upsold the most expensive pair of hiking boots and a new Swiss Army Knife. If only it had a tool on it for rescuing girls in Ugg boots out of gutters, everyone would be OK.
Social Norm, and other Tory bores
Bottoms up! The genius Tory strategist Steve Hilton promises finally to remove the only barrier to my drinking sensibly: those horribly confusing "units of alcohol". I don't know about you, but I've been told a million times that there is one unit in a glass of wine (v. small) and two in a pint of junior lager, and I still can't get it into my thick skull. Does that mean I can drink 10 pints every day and still be under my weekly 14-unit limit? And if there's a lime in it, that's one of my five-a-day? Nope, I've forgotten again. Hic!
The Tories say they will scrap these "units", and print information about "social norms" on bottles. They've also promised substantial cash prizes to anyone who has a good idea to tackle our drinking, smoking and obesity epidemics. I've got a good idea, Steve: indulge in no more than two new health strategies a day.
Back to life, back to reality
For about a day, being in the grip of snowstorms was a charming novelty. "Sledging" and "snow day" re-entered our vocabulary, and life resembled the ending of a Richard Curtis movie. The next day, complaining about the snow became a team sport. It was like the Blitz, with significantly less danger of death. After that, stoical snow skills became a way of life; we gritted our teeth and pretended to be Canadian. Then, in London at least, the snow melted... Since the launch of James Cameron's film Avatar, there have been reports of audiences suffering post- Avatar depression. Life is flat when you're not big and blue. Everything feels hopeless. Prepare for a similar effect as the big thaw spreads north. Post-snow, there are no days off, no Dunkirk spirit and everywhere is ugly. January just got depressing.
Janet Street-Porter is awayReuse content