Everyone’s favourite inappropriate granddad type figure Silvio Berlusconi is in the news again today, with sordid details of his infamous ‘bunga bunga’ parties emerging this week from an Italian courthouse where he is on trial. The Daily Mail, that bastion of propriety and decorum, dusted off its favourite shocked-and-appalled font and somehow found space among its collection of Pippa Middleton pictures to decry these latest antics. The particulars involve lesbian encounters and other sexual acts that were allegedly paid for by Silvio himself and took place at one of his lavish parties. Incidentally, one imagines that among his gang of cronies from the world of Italian business and politics, receiving an invite to one of these shindigs is a bit of a golden ticket moment. Only instead of bringing along Grandpa Joe they bring three hookers and a wad of cash.
While the Italian public seems fed up with him at this stage, it is incredible that he has lasted this long as prime minister. Aside from the aforementioned trial, he is involved in three other serious cases over shady business dealings and has a long history of somewhat unprofessional and improper behaviour. Based on my knowledge of offensive stereotypes I can only deduce that the Italian people must have been too busy gesticulating wildly at each other, drinking coffee outside charming bistros and winning World Cups to be too concerned with removing the wily old rogue from power.
It has led me to wonder how long the people in this country would have put up with these kinds of shenanigans. Doubtlessly we are a more conservative race than the Italians, as well as being a lot more inhibited when it comes to matters involving sex. The prohibitive nature of the Church’s influence here has ensured that our sexual liberation is found somewhat wanting. Italy is very much the swarthy, six-packed gentleman, charming the pants off women left, right and centre, with most of his sexual encounters occurring in black and white Armani aftershave ads to a trendy Europop soundtrack. Ireland, on the other hand, is very much the pimply, pathetic teenager who watches that fifteen minutes of Basic Instinct that he recorded on VHS so many times that he can’t even tell anymore if it’s Sharon Stone’s arse or Michael Douglas’s that he’s staring at.
Imagine for a moment, and I apologise for the following mental image that will follow you to your grave, if our Enda had been caught carrying on with some underage floozy. If allegations of wild sex parties involving our dear Taoiseach began to circulate. If tales emerged of orgiastic romps at Farmleigh House over Christmas; presents of an unimaginably lewd nature being given and, ahem, received, turkey legs being used for anything but sustenance, and as for the stuffing…well, the less said about all that stuffing the better. People would be outraged. Surprised, more so perhaps, but outraged all the same.
I think we can safely assume that no such revelations concerning the wholesome Enda are coming our way any time soon. Although he is a primary school teacher from Mayo so who knows what he got up to in Copper’s back in the 70’s? Either way I imagine that most people would find it far easier to imagine such Carry On-esque behaviour from our previous government. When the newspapers finally get their hands on the expense lists from the Celtic Tiger days, there may yet be a lot of sex dungeons, farmyard animals and leather-clad midgets to be accounted for. Those Galway Races weekends were mad craic altogether.
The argument will always come back to the standards we expect to be upheld by our elected officials. This differs from country to country, and though the Italians may be a tad lax about the whole thing, perhaps we need to grow up a bit as a country and become a bit more liberal and open-minded. I would be of the opinion that a politician’s personal life should remain his own unless it is actively interfering with his duties. Although that being said, it was having a 17-year old Moroccan prostitute actively interfere with his duties that got Silvio into all this trouble in the first place. Maybe we’re better off with good old Enda after all.