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Lowri Turner column; Only the sad and selfish need notches on their chastity belt.

It's being touted as the chicest thing since sliced ciabatta. Never mind all that nasty, sweaty, ouch-you're-on-my-leg, I-hate-cherry-flavour-haven't-you-got-any-mint-ones stuff, the only thing to do in bed is, er, well nothing. Celibacy is In.

Helen Mirren, not a lady normally known for her fondness for a yashmak, has proclaimed publicly: "I know I don't need sex, because I can go months without".

Alicia Silverstone, star of forthcoming movie blockbuster Batman 4, says she prefers a box of chocolates "as long as they're Belgian". And Madonna, in a spiritual handbrake turn of which a 10-year-old in a stolen Escort XR3i would be proud, now declares she'd rather read a good book.

But try telling this to the former Bishop of Argyll. Roderick Wright had a good book, The Good Book, in fact, and he still felt the sharp breeze of sexual desire whip up his cassock.

So much so, that last week he resigned his post.This has been followed by the revelation that the priapic priest has a son of 15 called Kevin.

This should have finally buttoned the pursed lips of all those crystal-danglers who have for so long promoted sitting cross-legged under a pyramid and humming gently as a stimulating alternative to a close encounter between the sheets.

Just how dull were their sex lives before they gave them up, anyway? That the departure of the Bishop, with or without his bikini'd divorcee has actually fuelled the abstinence a la mode movement is a triumph of hope over reality.

Certainly, the celibacy of Catholic priests has its uses. The Thorn Birds Syndrome ensures pews full of feverishly yearning females. Make clerics officially available and attendances would plummet. For the rest of us, however, it serves no purpose.

I was celibate through most of my late teens. It wasn't a lifestyle decision. I didn't get asked out very much. Celibacy is not a better, higher, purer way of life. It's what you do when no one you want to sleep with wants to sleep with you.

Those who choose to remain unsullied, rather than have this state thrust upon them, have a hidden agenda.

Self-appointed celibacy is self-obsession with a halo. Desire does not wither simply because it has been declared surplus to intellectual requirements. There is nothing sadder (or more selfish?) than those who prefer playing sexual solitaire to forming a meaningful relationship.

Yet there are a few individuals for whom it would perhaps be advisable. If we could nominate others to be celibate to the grave, I'd be all for it.

Paul Daniels, the Duchess of York and any parent over the age of 40 come to mind.

WAS calling Gary Lineker a jellyfish really the most vicious insult Vinnie Jones could come up with? Wimbledon fans should be worried. If such self-restraint is anything to go by, testicle-crusher Vinnie will shortly be observed removing his Number 4 shirt and laying it across muddy patches on the pitch for the opposing team's striker, dabbing Savlon on other players' knees at half-time and sending himself off for rude gestures made to the referee.

Not much of a score

TV presenter Nick Hancock, host of sports quiz They Think It's All Over, has proposed to his girlfriend. Nice for Shari Eftekhari, who's known him only six months. Not so nice for ex-girlfriend Vanessa Whitstable, who spent years with him - years when he wasn't a success, probably wasn't bringing in much money and she was no doubt required to expend valuable energy bolstering his fragile artistic ego in between listening to him banging on about Stoke City.

Courting disaster if you

don't pick the right wife

TYCOONS do well to choose their wives wisely. As Jeffrey Archer's famously fragrant' wife Mary and now Kevin Maxwell's wife Pandora prove, pick well and they can be a boon in a sticky courtroom situation.

Pandora - like Mary, pretty, but not flashy, strong, but also feminine - gave a tearful account of her children's bullying at school. "I cannot be over-influenced by such matters, but no one could have been unmoved by her evidence,"" commented Mr Justice Buckley as he scuppered a further fraud trial. That a woman's most potent weapon is a soggy hankie puts feminism back about 20 years. It also raises the question of whether other, less high-profile, wives and mothers, whose other-halves are due to stand trial, might be able to sway a court with similar testimony?

If a man accused of playing a part in a pounds 500 million pension fund fraud wins a judge's sympathy because of the plaintive cry of one of his kids - ""Is Daddy coming home tonight?" - then what of the more humble, but equally well-loved, person charged with dole fraud whose family might also prefer him to remain chez nous?

Hit back at

the judges,

signoras

IT is now legal in Italy for a man to beat his wife - even if she ends up in hospital. According to the country's supreme court, as long as there is no "grave intention to humiliate or abuse the victim" no crime has beem committed. Applying this interesting legal principle, Italian women should arm themselves with heavy objects and descend en masse on the judges who made the ruling. When the beaks end up in A&E in plaster, their attackers can claim they had no "grave intention to humiliate or abuse" either.

NOT since Bobby Charlton perfected his sweep-across coif has so startlingly natural an effect been achieved with a bit of nifty brushwork. Liz Hurley's "honey, I blew up my lips" make-up job even had beauty professionals fooled into thinking, incorrectly, that she'd had a collagen implant. One thought though: All those layers of lip-liner, lipstick and lipgloss presumably preclude kissing. One half- decent smooch and Liz would look like Coco the Clown.

AT the grand old age of 26, Claudia Schiffer is retiring from the catwalk - sort of. She has declared her intention to do only occasional guest appearances for the most famous fashion houses. Karl Lagerfeld, designer for one of the most famous of all, Chanel, says: "Claudia is part of another fashion, another spirit, another time." Translation: Don't call us, we'll call you.

PRINCE Charles joined a comedian on stage at a posh dinner. Afterwards, professional funny man Jethro said if Chazza should not ascend to the throne "he could make it as a stand-up comic". From someone among whose `top gags' is "booze killed my missus...I came home drunk and shot her dead" this is high praise indeed.

IT was touching that the Princess of Wales attended the funeral of the young Greek at whose hospital bedside she was a frequent visitor. Still, his mother went a touch OTT. Looking at the open coffin, Eleftheria Kaliviotis declared: "My son, get up and see your friend". The Queen of Hearts has a talent for comforting the sick. Even she wouldn't claim to raise the dead - not yet, anyway.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Turner, Lowri
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 22, 1996
Words:1154
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