I am sure you will appreciate the gravity of this matter. If you do not, then cast your eyes upon the subhead to the story. Putting aside its usual impartiality and restraint, The SST says:
He's a failed politician and a convicted liar - and now Jeffrey Archer is making the absurd claim that Kiwi icon Sir Edmund Hillary wasn't the first man to conquer Mt Everest.Indeed: failed, liar, absurd, icon; the facts could not be more clear.
So what has Jeffrey Archer done? He has written a book, again: "Paths of Glory is a fictionalised account of the life of George Mallory, whose ill-fated attempt to scale the world's highest mountain in 1924 has long been shrouded in mystery. Mallory was last seen a few hundred metres below the summit and died shortly afterwards after falling from a ridge. Many of his admirers believe he made it to the top and deserves Hillary's place in history as Everest's conqueror."
So who is this Jeffrey Archer? In case you were not aware of the character of this man, the SST makes it plain: 'Archer's political career ended in disgrace in Britain in 2001 when he was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to four years in jail. His writing career has suffered little damage however his three volumes of prison diaries were bestsellers, as was his 2007 novel based on the life of Jesus.'
However, Sir Ed's friend Graeme Dingle will not have a word of it: "he's dreaming. There's essentially no chance Mallory got to the top. All the evidence points to them not making it." What's more, he says that Archer's interest in portraying Mallory as the first to summit the mountain was motivated by wounded English pride at having been beaten by a colonial: "the English were desperate to get to the top and they didn't get there, even in 1953. I think the English are pretty sensitive about it. They've got nothing to be ashamed about, they had a lot of glorious failures."
And glorious shirtlifters as well, it seems: 'he said one aspect of the speculation surrounding the doomed climber which was omitted from Archer's book was that Mallory chose climbing partner Andrew Irvine because of a homosexual attraction between the pair. Irvine, too, died during the 1924 attempt, although his body has not been found." Some have said the flaw of Mallory's character was he chose Irvine because of a possible gay relationship, and not based on good, sound mountaineering judgement," said Dingle.'
So, there you have it. The legacy of the greatest New Zealander has been besmirched by a failed politician and liar, who reflects the wounded pride of the English when he claims that an English homosexualist and his lover reached the summit before our national icon. Goodness knows what they would have done had they had reached the top. Fortunately, they did not. And Mallory paid with his life for letting his homosexual desires cloud his mountaineering judgement.
Of course, the liar's claims about the homosexualist are absurd. All honest New Zealanders can sleep soundly and hetrosexually in their beds, knowing that honest, heterosexual Sir Ed was first to reach the summit.