Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Trimble's curt words on same-sex marriage showed us how brave we should all be

Trump's latest blast work of a space cadet

Former UUP leader Lord Trimble
Former UUP leader Lord Trimble
Vicky Trimble with Rosalind Stephens

The most heartwarming story of the week - David, Lord Trimble's disclosure in the House of Lords that he'd changed his mind about same-sex marriage after his daughter Vicky married her girlfriend, now wife, Ros Stephens.

Lord Trimble has since taken some flak on social media, and an affectionate chiding from Vicky herself, about the phraseology he employed.

"I have found myself taking a particular position with regard to same-sex marriage which was forced upon me when my elder daughter got married to her girlfriend. I cannot change that and I cannot now go around saying that I am opposed to it, because I acquiesced to it. There we are."

Awkward, yes.

And yet it's the very awkwardness and stiffness of those buttoned-up words that I found the most moving.

David Trimble, I think we can safely say, is not known for being emotionally effusive.

To speak publicly about a deeply personal matter, knowing that it would immediately bring considerable media attention upon his family, would have been difficult enough.

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Doing so while conceding that he'd also been forced to rethink his previous stance (always a tricky thing for any of us to admit in any circumstances) was particularly touching.

But that brief explanatory statement of his - finished off with the candid summation "There we are" - didn't come primarily from David Trimble the politician.

It came from David Trimble the loving and supportive father of his precious girl.

As I say, he's not a man known for soul-baring. And there are many, many people out there (not just men, either) who are similarly ill at ease with public emoting.

In some ways, it's maybe a generational thing. And to some extent also a Northern Ireland thing. Social media has obviously had an enormous impact upon us all. But not everybody is Insta incontinent.

My own father, who came from an older generation than Lord Trimble, was also a bit chary when it came to the emoting department.

There was as much chance of him flying to the moon and back as him telling us he loved us to the moon and back. But he didn't need to.

Like Vicky Trimble and her siblings, we knew he loved us utterly and that he would do anything for us.

I don't suppose that back then a divorcee with a small child would have been his first choice as a partner for me, but from the moment he met Jim he welcomed him - and Faye - into our family. There we are.

David Trimble walked his daughter down the aisle when she married the woman she loved.

Both girls speak of him with such warmth - and humour. Ros describes how, when she first met him in his flat in London, where she'd been staying with Vicky, she was wrapped in a duvet.

"I came out of the toilet and said to him that I wasn't expecting anyone," she says. "He replied: 'Neither was I'."

But Vicky and Ros are among the lucky ones. Despite the advances towards equality for gay people, it is still not an easy thing to 'come out' to use that clumsy term.

For Daphne and David Trimble, it was a simple matter that Vicky was their daughter and they love her.

But, in a way, they are all our daughters and sons, these young gay people in our community - too many still struggling with their secret, scared to be themselves, or to tell family and friends for fear of losing them.

Same-sex marriage seems like a small step to some of us, a giant leap to others (to borrow from another story of the week), but it will come to Northern Ireland. We all know that.

I've always admired David Trimble as one of our bravest politicians, a man of great integrity.

And no matter how stiff those words of his this week, the real power was not in how he said it - but that he said it.

There we are.

There we all should be.

Trump’s latest blast is work of a space cadet

The upcoming US presidential election is starting to look like a Northern Ireland election. Leaders on both sides playing to the hardliners.

This week saw idiot boy Trump, progeny of German and Scottish forebears, nodding approvingly as supporters chanted "Send her back" about a political opponent. In 1969, America sent a man to the moon. Fifty years on, they've got a spacer in the White House.

Portrush has its moment in the sun

When I was a child, we couldn't afford week-long holidays. But we did have excursions. Sunday school trips and family days out. And there was one destination favoured above all by us children.

The Port.

Actually, there are two Ports. Portrush and Portstewart. But 'The Port' to us only ever meant Portrush.

Portstewart we saw as a bit more genteel, sedate and, to be honest, frumpy (sorry, Portstewart).

Portrush, by contrast, was way more scuffed and worn. But exciting too. What could match that emporium of joy that was Barry's, with its cacophony of screeching brakes, screeching children and the pungent aroma of axle grease combined with candy floss?

There were the few souvenir shops well-stocked with tat and (to us) exotica like joss sticks. The East Strand car park - viewing platform to some of the most stunning scenery in the world. The chip shops. The seagulls menacing your chips. And the wind sandpapering you as you bivouacked down on the beach.

What could beat it?

I agree with all those comments about how valuable the hosting of the competition is to the wider Northern Ireland economy.

But it is old Portrush itself I feel happiest for.

I switched on CNN this week and it was Portrush this, Portrush that. Portrush on the global news! Surreal.

It's like seeing an old friend step out to accept an Oscar.

This week, The Open has been the big show in town. The real star, though, has been The Port.

Naomi’s clean-up drill no flight of fancy

Every time I fly - and I did recently - I pick up some bug which takes ages to get rid of.

So, while others have been smirking this week at the complex inflight sanitation routine espoused by supermodel Naomi Campbell (face mask, gloves, disinfectant wipes to wash down all adjacent surfaces, etc), I'm totally with her.

I'd fly in a Hazmat suit, if they'd let me.

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