THE line that most resonated with me from Bruce Jenner’s remarkable interview with US TV legend Diane Sawyer about his prospective transformation into a woman was when the former Olympic gold medal winner denied the common notion he was born in the wrong body: “I’m a person and that’s who I am. I’m not stuck in anyone’s body. It’s just me. It’s who I am.”
While I deeply admire Jenner’s bravery, I have only contempt for stepdaughter Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband Kris Humphries (pictured), a basketball player with the Washington Wizards, who after the interview tweeted: “Man, I’m glad I got out when I did” which he accompanied with the hashtag: #gottadoyou. He’s clearly a low-life, a Peter Pan frat-boy who has never evolved past the sniggering humour of the high school locker room. While Bruce Jenner embarks on a physical transformation, Humphries should consider whether he is man enough to embark on an emotional one.
An unconventional choice, but if habit fits there’s nun better
GET thee to a nunnery. Well, I have to say that for me the religious life lost its cachet when the old traditional habits were turfed over the cloister wall. Who didn’t fall in love a little with Audrey Hepburn when her ethereal beauty shone even further as framed by the white starched coif run up by Hollywood’s finest seamstresses for the classic movie The Nun’s Story? When I watched these films as a child, my mother would have to pre-alert me to the sad bit… for me it was like watching Bambi’s mother being shot when it came to the stage in their religious formation when their hair was all shorn off as a way of showing humility and renunciation before God. I used to cry as I knew Jesus had long lovely locks and I didn’t buy for a minute that God would be behind this nefarious deed.
It seems that in Britain today The Nun’s Story is due a sequel. Last week it was announced that in England and Wales the number of women taking Holy Orders has risen by 300 per cent over the past five years. Although this is from a very small base, the Catholic Church is delighted that vocations have increased from 15 in 2009 to 45 in 2014. In the 1980s the annual intake was around 80. Yet what is surprising is that younger women are returning to Holy Orders, with the most recent intake including 14 who were under the age of 30.
As Sister Cathy Jones, religious life vocations promoter at the National Office for Vocation, explained: “We are never going to be at the place we were at 50 years ago, Catholic culture was at a very different place. But the fact that more women are becoming nuns than there has been in the past 25 years shows that as a generation we have turned a corner. We are not going to be as we were in the past when work was very visible with hospitals and schools and so on. But nuns may be doing more hidden work with trafficked women, for example, or as counsellors. That may not be as visible, but nonetheless it is vital work the Church is doing.”
I once spent a few months with an order of Benedictine nuns in America. What was refreshing was that these were very accomplished and intelligent women, there wasn’t a meek bone in anyone’s body. Every single day they were all out in the world making a difference, many of them working in very challenging environments. I still fondly remember “Sister Kitchenguard”, who made late night time raids on the fridge nigh-on impossible with her imperious icy stare, and the 92-year-old nun who was an iconoclast and the most fun – she was still 18 inside and made me realise the truth behind the adage that age is just a number.
There are different paths for different people but this is one avenue for women that seemed to have ended in a cul de sac in recent years, so I’m happy to read that there is now new life among the crumbling cloisters.
It is curious that we are accepting of everything in modern society but that we are still shocked by a young woman wanting to become a nun.
A rather beautiful face-off
COSMETIC surgeons in the US have concluded there is an “NY Face” and an “LA Face” among those who believe Mother Nature should be beaten off with a stick, or at least a syringe or two. The denizens of New York are said to favour angularity: thinner lips and a masculine jaw. The residents of Los Angeles favour plumpness but God forbid volume should appear anywhere but in their face, lips and cheeks. Is there a Scottish equivalent? A cosmetic equivalent of: “You’ll have had your tea” versus the big heart, big lips of the west? I would like to see our leonine adonis Neil Oliver swing his mane and explore the issue on a special edition of Coast.