Why a 'Yes' to same-sex marriage would be the icing on the cake
My mother made my wedding cake. She was a brilliant home baker and it was a traditional confection. Three tiers in crisp white Royal icing with a wee (plastic) man and woman on top. The ornamental groom was in a business suit. His bride moulded in stiff white crinoline.
That was about the only old school part of our wedding do.
We were married in Belfast City Hall. This is going back some years when the civil ceremony maybe wasn't as common as it is now.
The night before our wedding, Jim and I and our best man, our very good friend Mickey Murdoch, transported the cake from south Derry back to Belfast.
En route, on the back seat, I fell asleep, slumping unconscious on top of the cake. Sadly, as it turned out, right on top of the wee plastic man and woman crowning the decoration. I squashed them into marzipan iced oblivion.
We'd organised a reception at a local (not terribly swish) rugby club. Our friends, Maggie, Marie and Dympna lent a hand with the very basic catering. Some guests didn't even get fed.
It was a January wedding and it snowed (a white wedding!) and I remember forever a fashionista friend of ours who'd removed her new suede boots before tramping down the long, snowy driveway into the reception in her bare feet to save her footwear.
So why should any of this, all of this, strike me now? Well, it's that week isn't it? A week of wedding cake and decision.
I think back to our own spectacular, memorable cake. To the cake my mother made that meant so much to me. I think of mother's kindness and her determination to make a contribution to a wedding that maybe wasn't as traditional as she might have chosen, but that will be forever in my heart.
Why should my wedding, I think now, be any more special - more "normal" - than other people's?
Jim and I had been living together for two and a half years before we got married. Ours was a statement about long-term commitment. And all these years on, these many, many years on, I know I was so very, very lucky and privileged that I was able to make the commitment I felt I wanted to back then because ...
Well, because I'm not gay.
I was free to make that public statement to the person I love. I was free to say without eyebrows, or hackles, or tempers raised, I want to be with you forever because I was/am "straight". Gay people - until now - have been denied that privilege.
But isn't marriage about children? Yes, Jim and I had children. Two boys, now grown-up. But our marriage, our bond, our love wasn't about procreation. Lots of marriages, good marriages, don't produce kids. It doesn't make those couplings any less legitimate.
And much as I adore our two sons, my love for Jim isn't pivoted on the fact that we have had them. (Out of our three offspring I love 'his' daughter Faye by his first marriage every bit as much as I love 'our' two sons, so what does that tell you about "product of the union"?) Marriage, I think, is so much more than that. This week in the Republic (and how soon before here, too?), voters are being given the chance to decide whether or not they are in favour of "gay marriage".
The Catholic bishops have come out, very forcibly, against a Yes vote. My opinion? The "gay" bit is irrelevant. Marriage is not - it should not be - about your sexual orientation but about whether you love each other.
Why should the love between a man and a woman be regarded as any more special than that between two people of the same sex who love each other every bit as much?
Without wishing to sound preachy I think it's not the icing on the cake - the wee plastic couple on the top - that determines whether a marriage is right or wrong or whether it works.
It's love and luck and maybe a bit of hard work, compromise and the odd cataclysmic row. Marriage itself hasn't changed down the years. But what has changed, despite the bishops and their celibate intransigence, is the world itself.
And this week I think, it's saying Yes.
Time for Translink to start playing fare
Taxi for Translink! This paper recently revealed the shocking sums being spent on cab fares for bus and train workers — over £174,000 in three years.
This, we’re told, is essential because of the “significant costs that would arise should services have to be cancelled due to staff not being in the correct place”.
Which actually holds true for all commuting workers. This week we’re also warned about cameras policing bus lanes. Any chance they’ll snap those taxis ferrying bus staff to work? As for that eye-watering Translink taxi fare — presumably we’re just expected to suck it up.
Like all public sector bills. Sure there’ll be another one along in a minute...
Bikers should ride off into the sunset
In a week in which we’re reminded here of everything that’s good about the motorbiking culture, in the US a darker side rears its grizzled head.
In Waco, Texas, nine bikers have been shot dead in a gang war between competing clans. This being gun-obsessed America, they’re armed to the teeth and deadly.
But maybe the most startling aspect of those pictures of gang members arrested at the scene is the age of, shall we say, the combatants.
These are not young bucks in their 20s. Going by pictures the average age of both Cossacks and Banditos is full-on geriatric. Grandas of Anarchy?