On the basis of ‘can’t live with, can’t live without ’em’, we bade farewell to our seasonal pilgrims as they drove homeward toward the border and the first traffic jam of their journey on the A30. Such Schadenfreude was a little unbecoming for those of us who are immigrants, but enjoyable nonetheless.
It being a post-New-Year Sunday, a few of us had gathered at random in the Old Doom Bar with our newspapers for a quiet, pre-prandial pint. It is an unspoken rule that we eschew comment on serious news, so it was Mr Danczuk whose misfortunes formed the basis of our discussions. There was a sense of déjà vu about the affair. What is it about middle-aged men that compels them to text or tweet nubile young women in terms that they must – if they thought about it – realise would inevitably be characterised as inappropriate?
That said, as with the Proudman case a few months ago, the question was also about the role of the innocent, job-seeking teenager in promoting what had evidently been some sort of prolonged correspondence. Given the pictures and comments published in various newspapers we all felt a bit of phone hacking would be useful to establish exactly what she had said to the MP. It looks as if the denouement of l’affaire Danczuk is imminent. The cyber-mob has already been in unedifying action in his constituency and some of the women in his life have made a number of negative comments about him.
Beyond the foolishness of his actions, we all remarked on the vulgar banality of the quoted communications. Mr D is not alone in this. Other incidents involving sexting images of male genitalia have landed their authors on the naughty stair of public humiliation. Do all men think young women like to be spanked or look at pictures of their suitor’s bits? Female sexuality certainly has its raunchy side but is highly unlikely to be accessed as part of an employment process or even as a courtship opening gambit. On this topic we all agreed that unleashing our own female partner’s wild side had taken quite a lot of time and persuasive charm. Even our Valentine cards had to show a certain decorum.
But our scorn was mostly raised by the inability of too many middle-aged men to understand the intrinsic distaste that younger women have for being lusted after by any other than very ‘fit’ males of a similar age range. Perhaps the Internet is to blame. Enter ‘horny teenagers’ in your search engine and there will be pages of them (or youngish women pretending to be teenagers) on every porn site.
To his credit, the MP has not blamed the Internet or indeed claimed to have been ‘led on’. Instead he has fallen back on the sad excuse of ‘having a drink problem’ and ‘being at a low ebb’ at the time of the texting. However this all turns out, it reflects the continuing hypocrisy of our media and public on sexual matters; also how we think about ‘teenage’ girls.
More cheerily, the Observer reader in our midst noted an interview with hypnotist Paul McKenna in the January 3rd magazine. As a middle-aged man he acknowledged having ‘dated’ many women without achieving a permanent relationship. It had been suggested by a friend that this was because he hadn’t really liked them. He was encouraged to create a list of all the women he knew and think about which ones if any, he loved. It turned out to be his long-term PA and they are now engaged.
Inevitably this recalled an episode in the ineffably schmaltzy Richard Curtis film Love Actually. As ageing and lonely rock star Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) enjoys a brief comeback success he reviews his social options and realises that the only person he loves enough to spend Christmas with is his fat manager (Gregor Fisher).
In truth, we all like happy endings, so a craftsman like Curtis would know how to spice his filmic dish with something less than happy. Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman provide the answer as lust-driven Rickman puts his neglected marriage in mortal danger because he is hot to trot with the office tart. Or should we say ‘ambitious young person’?
We all wished Mr Danczuck an improving New Year. There seemed to be a moral to all this, and we even considered sending him a DVD of the movie.