When I was a young man, there was a glib and mildly amusing review of the readership of the national newspapers doing the rounds. You may remember it – let’s see if I can: ‘THE TIMES is read by the men who own or run the country; the DAILY TELEGRAPH by those who would like the country to be run as it used to be; THE GUARDIAN by those who would like to run the country; and the DAILY MAIL by the wives of the men who run the country …’ (there were other statements covering the tabloids as well, but I’m afraid my dementia prevents me recalling them).
This morning I happened to buy a copy of the ‘DAILY MAIL’ for no particular reason, other than simply to entertain myself over breakfast. It may not surprise you that in short order I was wading through a series of articles of presumed interest to the distaff side of the species.
Firstly, I learned that psychologist and sexual relationships expert Susan Quillian, 63, has announced that today’s female ‘silver splitters’ [translation: women who get divorced in their fifties and beyond] are having healthier, and more active, sex lives than ever before. Apparently, women can now not only sleep with whomever they want and not be judged, but they no longer fear experimenting in bed.
Secondly, the ‘MAIL’ then went on (pp. 22 and 23) to a double-page spread featuring photos of ladies beyond a certain age who are diving headlong into the latest trend – that of having expensive ‘boudoir portraits’ of themselves done, in order to please either themselves or their partners.
Just seven pages later, I am reading the views of Jo Heywood, headmistress of £30,000 per annum Heathfield School in Sussex, who believes that teenage girls are being manipulated and confused by role models such as Miley Cyrus, who turn swiftly from clean-cut, wholesome, images to those more lewd and raunchy. It seems these mixed messages are potentially damaging to our bluestocking’d gels.
Since these days I barely know who 20% of the celebrities featured in the media are, or indeed what they do, I then had to go on the internet. It took me the best part of forty minutes Google-surfing in order to be able to identify and then compare Ms Cyrus’ original image (as some sort of pre-pubescent Disney cutie) with her new one, in which she prances around in a flesh-coloured bikini whilst ‘twerking’ and then, in the video for her latest song, swings back and forth on a builder’s wrecking ball in the total altogether. (And, by the way, if anyone claims that I watched that one six times, I deny it).
I am relatively unphased by the sexual development of the young, albeit feeling wistfully that the erotic buzz that my pals and I gained from the faint hint of nipple outline on a model’s blouse in a magazine might just have been more intense than that provided by the hard-core porn that modern British ten-year-olds apparently watch in their bedrooms.
Every human in history who has survived to maturity has been through the hormonal stage, when anything rude and naughty is delicious forbidden fruit that they wish to try.
I sent my own daughter away to boarding school at the age of thirteen.
It took her less than twelve months to switch from bedside posters of fluffy animals and ponies to those of a half-naked oik from some famous boy band. After two years of buying her requested ‘SUGAR’ teen magazine, my other half enquired whether I had ever looked inside. I naturally replied in the negative. She then pointed out that it was full of chock-full of hard-hitting relationship advice, including such niceties as how to brush up on your blow-job techniques.
No, I’m far more worried about the all-pervasive media campaigns designed to provoke ladies beyond the menopause to ‘let it all hang out’ and explore their wildest S & M fantasies. At an age now where pipe, slippers, a cup of cocoa, a repeat edition of ‘HOMES UNDER THE HAMMER’, followed by retirement to bed at 8.45pm, is my ideal of heaven, I’m afraid that the prospect of being attacked by hordes of sexually-voracious grannies every time I venture out to collect my milk and copy of the ‘RACING POST’ has no attraction whatsoever.