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No rhyme or reason to life, just blame it on the boogie

It is the Great Heresy of the Enlightenment: that the world is amenable to analysis and logical explanation. It is not. The entire phenomenon that is Silvio Berlusconi is a perpetual refutation of the role of reason in the conduct of human affairs.

I pluck one example from the many offered by that modern personification of Roman culture, which previously gave us the Renaissance, Leonardo, the many Bellinis, Michelangelo and Ferrari.

The Italian television hostess Manila Gorio alleges that her friend, Patrizia D'Addario, had sex with Berlusconi to put pressure on him to help her get planning permission to open a bed and breakfast.

I see. Has anyone told Bord Failte (or whatever it's called these days) about the prime minister's potential role in the tourist industry? And has anyone broken this grave news to Brian Cowen? Or indeed, to Mrs Cowen?

Still, before lines of putative B&B -- Bed and Biffo, perhaps? -- owners form up on Merrion Street, and as chaste screams for mercy echo from the Office of the Taoiseach, Mr and Mrs Biffo should note that the fair Miss D'Addario's ploys were unsuccessful. She did not get her B&B planning permission. And just to confirm that we are as much in command of modern Italian culture as we are of the Sea of Tranquility, allow me to share the news that Manila Gorio, the popular TV hostess who revealed all this, is in fact a transsexual. Manila is an ex-man: an ex-Manilo.

I confess, I came late to the Michael Jackson phenomenon. It was only with his death that I began to understand what a bizarre and demented creature he was. And that he should have a huge and devoted following of people, who knew the terrible things that I have only learnt in the past three days tells me -- yet again -- that I understand nothing of human nature.

How is it possible that a man -- and I use the term as loosely about Michael Jackson as I would about a post-operative Manila Gorio -- who named his three children Prince Michael, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, has anyone at all following him, save for brain-doctors with straitjackets, mace and hypodermics?

And now we learn that he was probably not the father of his children, nor his ex-wife the mother, and that surrogates were used. No, I have no idea what that means. But I do know that cosmetic surgery had made his face look like a cross between ET and a baseball. This was a clear sign of madness. So too was his dangling one of his children over a balcony. So too . . . oh forget it.

His post mortem revealed that he was severely emaciated, bald, and disfigured. His alimentary canal was empty, save for the residue of some pills. His almost noseless face was a mass of scars from the 13 operations which had turned a handsome young African-American into something pale you might find at the bottom of a pond. Yet he was worshipped around the world . . .

Shortly after Michael Jackson died, Mohammed Junaid Hussein, aged 16, went out to play cricket with five friends at Small Heath in Birmingham. A downpour started, and the boys took shelter under a tree. A bolt of lightning struck the tree, and all six boys were injured.

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At around the same time, Aziza Bakari and her daughter Bahiya (14) left their home in Marseilles, bound for the Comoros Islands. They flew first to Yemen, where they changed planes, to an old Airbus A310. Young Bahiya went to sleep beside her mother. The same midsummer storms which caused lightning to strike Mohammed and his friends unleashed strong winds across the Indian Ocean. These caused the pilot to abandon his first landing attempt at Moroni Airport. He circled out to sea, where the Airbus crashed.

Bahiya woke to find herself struggling in the ocean. She could not swim, and she had no lifejacket. It was totally dark, and she was bitterly cold. Around her, bodies were bobbing. For hours, a freezing Bahiya just managed to stay afloat and alive. At around the same time, in hospital in Birmingham, young Mohammed started to make a recovery. His blood pressure normalised, and he was kept under sedation.

At dawn on Tuesday, the sole survivor of 153 souls, Bahiya was found amid scores of dead bodies. Plucked from the sea, she was taken to the El Marouf Hospital, where she is expected to make a full recovery.

At almost exactly the same time, and half a world away, in his hospital bed, Mohammed Junaid Khan suddenly took a turn for the worse. Rushed to the operating theatre, he there succumbed. He had merely gone out to play cricket on a summer's day in Birmingham, had been struck by a bolt of lightning, and died.

In another hospital, at the same time, Michael Jackson's corpse was yielding its last sad secrets. Meanwhile, Berlusconi's popularity rating in Italy rose to 62.3pc. There is no reason to birth, to death, nor to those events between the two, which we call life. They just are, and that is that.

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