Issue 112:2017 07 06:Fun for some(Neil Tidmarsh)

06 July 2017

Fun For Some

Good people setting a bad example.

By Neil Tidmarsh

It’s summer.  Yes, a proper summer this year – blue sky, bright sun and a real shorts-on, shirts-off, grass-browning heat for once.  Time to enjoy ourselves.  To relax, take a break, have a holiday.  Go to the beach, throw a party, get invited to an orgy.  Go on, cast caution to the winds just for once.  Hang loose and have fun.  Why not?  Nothing wrong with that, is there?  It’s allowed, isn’t it?


There was a party in Hamburg earlier this week.  A proper party.  An all-nighter with heavy drinking, loud music, naked dancing, sex in public, a punch-up, peeing competitions, fire-arms brandished suggestively… It went on until 6 o’clock in the morning, and it was clearly organised by experts.  Indeed, the 200 party-goers were from Berlin, the party-capital of Germany (if not the whole of Europe), and they certainly knew how to do these things properly.  But Hamburg is not Berlin.  It’s sedate and bourgeois and respectable.  It’s Mrs Merkel’s birthplace.  Very wealthy, very middle-class (must have changed a bit since a certain unknown British pop-group played there in the 1960’s).  So there was a bit of a fuss when news of this party got out.

Not least because those 200 party animals were all police officers.

They’d been drafted in from Berlin as part of the 15,000-strong force of police and security officials on duty in Hamburg for the G20 summit later this week (as many as 150,000 protesters are expected to converge on the city to demonstrate in the sight of the world’s most powerful leaders).  Other policemen – from North Rhine Westphalia – were also involved in the fracas, but only because they asked the Berlin lot to keep the noise down.  That’s when the fight started.

The 200 were sent home in disgrace.  But they were welcomed back in Berlin as heroes.  A spokesperson for the city’s nightclub scene saluted them with these words (as reported in The Times): “Barely ten days before the meeting of the world’s political elites, Berlin’s operation team has fulfilled its function as role models and organised a great party”, and promised them free entry to a nightclub of their choice. The police officers themselves said they were bored in Hamburg.  That was their excuse. There were no TVs in their accommodation (converted shipping containers) in a former refugee centre miles from town.  Besides, they insisted (according to Bild) that the whole thing was no more than “a normal Berlin evening” for off-duty officers.

Meanwhile, in Italy, police were busy breaking up a gay orgy.  Hang on a minute, you say, this is 2017, such things aren’t illegal any more, are they?  Whatever consenting adults get up to in the privacy of their own homes is their own business, surely?  Well, the police were Vatican police and the orgy was taking place in the Vatican, in an apartment belonging to ‘the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’, the department responsible for tackling clerical sexual abuse, among other things.  Reports claim that the apartment was home to the aide to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the pope’s trusted advisor.

While there was nothing in the report to suggest that the participants were anything other than consenting adults, the practice of homosexuality remains forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church, of course. So here we have forbidden fruits being enjoyed by the very people doing the forbidding.  Another example of rule-makers breaking the rules they insist other people must obey.  And right now the Vatican is under siege with allegations of sexual abuse from around the world.  At the very least, reports of the party broken up by the Vatican police will have put an end to that aide’s hopes for promotion up the Vatican hierarchy – the Cardinal had apparently recommended him for a bishopric.

Meanwhile, in the USA… Photographs of a man enjoying himself sunbathing on a beach in New Jersey caused outrage this week.  But surely, you say, the beaches of New Jersey must be crowded with people enjoying themselves sunbathing at this time of year?  No.  Not this week.  State legislators couldn’t agree a budget, so Governor Chris Christie signed an order to shut down the government, which meant (among other things) closing beaches and parks – just as Independence Day was approaching, too.

But it just so happens that the governor’s official summer residence on Island Beach State Park has access to miles of beach which had been closed to the public by his order. Suddenly he had a beautiful stretch of effectively private beach all to himself – and he made the most of it, as those photos taken from a light aircraft flying overhead showed.  For the man in those photos was none other than Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and closer of its beaches to the general public.

He had the nerve to tell the press at a briefing later that day in Trenton “I didn’t get any sun today”, and even when confronted with those photos he was unrepentant.  “That’s the way it goes” he said.  “Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”  He gleefully reminded the press of all the other scrapes he’d survived: the 2010 trip to Disney World which was so much fun he refused to return home even when a devastating winter storm spread ruin through his state; a flight in a private jet allegedly supplied by a casino magnate; a stay in a luxury hotel allegedly hosted by the King of Jordan. “I relish these experiences” he said. “I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.”

Meanwhile, in France, the acting head of the air force General Richard Reboul was accused of using a military jet to fly himself to his holiday home in Salon-de-Provence from his airbase in Bordeaux.  The 370 mile journey would have taken six hours by road or nine hours by train – but by single-seater Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet, flying at 450mph, it takes 35 minutes.

Hang on a minute, you say. What’s the point of being chief of the air force if you can’t help yourself to an air-force jet every now and then to grab an extra half a day on the beach?  No one likes to waste time actually getting to one’s holiday destination…

The original point of this article was to come over all Juvenal and indignant, shouting “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards?” at the top of my voice. But I’m not sure that I wouldn’t rather stop pointing an accusing finger at the perpetrators of the above hypocrisies, and give them three cheers and a round of applause instead.  This piece is subtitled ‘Good people setting a bad example’, with an ironic emphasis on ‘good’ – but perhaps that should be changed to ‘Bad people setting a good example’ with no irony at all.  I’m confused.  It must be the heat.

Hang loose and have fun. It’s summer!


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