We are supposed to be sophisticated people, living in a time of enlightenment. Look at us. We paint pictures, play the piano and ice our cakes with star-shaped nozzles.
At the end of every day, we count our blessings and praise the lord, as our menfolk dutifully trim nostril hairs and place their socks neatly in the laundry basket.
As an everyday snapshot of the ascent of man, this is as pleasing to me as anything social anthropologists could produce. We’ve come a long way, baby! Here we stand, supposedly on the uplands of human development and understanding.
Yet will the most basic instinct of all still prove to be our undoing? If this week has proved one thing, it is that even in a time of peril and crisis, sex still makes fools of many men.
Yet Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured) would possibly beg to differ. The beardy Sage boffin has had to resign after becoming overpowered by what Noel Coward called the ‘sly biological urge’
Consider for a moment the intensity of first love in rural Ireland, as depicted in the BBC’s lush adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People. It’s Fifty Shades Of Sligo, with the suggestion that between the long stares and the bedroom bonkathons, nothing in life is ever so passionate or all-consuming again.
Yet Professor Neil Ferguson would possibly beg to differ. The beardy Sage boffin has had to resign after becoming overpowered by what Noel Coward called the ‘sly biological urge’.
In a lockdown he helped impose on the entire country, Ferguson broke the rules to enjoy trysts with his married girlfriend, Antonia Staats. She is a polyamorous bee lover in an open marriage, a woman who buzzed away from her own hive, husband and children on at least two occasions to be with Professor Lockdown.
Now his career as an advisor to the Government’s scientific advisory panel is over — and for what? Well, we all know for what — a liaison dangereuse — but was it worth it?
‘I made an error of judgment,’ said Ferguson, but it wasn’t clear if he was talking about his bumbling bee love or his scientific modelling that has proved consistently wrong in almost every epidemic and medical emergency from Covid-19 to swine flu, bird flu, Ebola and Zika.
Ferguson broke the rules to enjoy trysts with his married girlfriend, Antonia Staats (pictured)
The miracle is that it is his hypocrisy that has done for him in the end, not his prediction that 500,000 people would die of coronavirus in the UK.
And if the Government has been so doggedly following the flawed science he has espoused for all these weeks, what has the scientist himself been following? Tragically it seems to have been nothing more complex than the atavistic urging from deep within his own underpants.
Ferguson and Staats met on dating site OkCupid, a fiercely libertarian online hook-up site with an emphasis on social justice as well as romance — because God forbid you should ever date someone with a differing opinion from the Left-leaning consensus.
Here, would-be lovers are quizzed on their attitudes to issues such as abortion and immigration, before being asked: ‘Would you ever tell a homeless person to get a job?’
Can I just say something? Ann Widdecombe need not apply. On OkCupid, Lefty is matched with Lefty, bee lover with boffin, in a passionate ideological lockstep on a site where new members are assured that they will ‘get noticed for who you are, not what you look like.’
Neil and fruity Antonia obviously hit it off marvellously — but what is truly incredible is that even in the depths of a pandemic, Prof Lockdown was clicking on, sizing up and checking out, perhaps even more in thrall to Cupid than Covid, keener on Staats than virus stats.
So desperate was our boy for love that he broke his own rules — while expecting thickos like us to carry on obeying them. It is infuriating.
What is it with men and sex? Don’t all answer at once. In her eye-popping memoirs extracted in the Mail this week, Vanessa Branson (sister of Sir Richard) revealed how her husband Robert Devereux left her and their four small children for a 26-year-old woman whom he said he was addicted to ‘like heroin’. As if that somehow excused his behaviour.
Pictured: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson walking with his partner Carrie Symonds
And look at our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson who will soon marry for the third time, leaving assorted children, wives and random emotionally bruised lovers in his chaotic wake.
I’m not saying that all men would be like the King of Thailand, riding out the lockdown in a four-star German hotel, with only a self-designated pleasure room and his 20-strong sex harem for company.
But perhaps a lot of them would, given the chance. The king’s concubines have been allocated names which hint at the truncated lives they lead, including The Beautiful One Who will Be Faithful To The King; She Who Obeys Lovingly; I’m Ready When You Are, Big Boy; and Are You Kidding? I’d Love To Do That Again.
If the sexes were reversed — they never would be, because women simply aren’t so stupid — the male harem would be called very different things, such as I’ve Fixed The Boiler, Love; Let Me Put The Kids To Bed Tonight; and the one that really gets me going — I’ve Gone To Live In The Shed.
Meantime, we just have to put up with the male of the species being let down by their loins, time and again.
However, the same applies to Professor Ferguson as it does to Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood, who had to resign after breaking her own lockdown guidance by visiting her second home.
It is not the morality, it is the hypocrisy that galls. In these difficult times, the public get particularly annoyed at those in power who do the very things they tell us not to. And you can’t blame Cupid for that.
Gin and bear it like Julia
At last I have something in common with Julia Roberts — I’m not going to the Met Gala either.
Julia posed for a photograph in her bathroom this week, wearing the beautiful Carolina Herrera dress she had earmarked for the event.
Standing on the bath with a glass of gin while staring out the window bleakly? That’s something else we have in common, too.
I must write to Julia. We could be friends.
At last I have something in common with Julia Roberts — I’m not going to the Met Gala either
Julia Roberts’ Instagram post showing the dress she intended to wear
Prince Harry has sold his guns. This seems to be a moment, a turning point, as he embraces his new life in America.
It certainly puts his old toff life with the hunting and shooting set behind him for ever.
It is unlikely he bought the Purdey shotguns himself. They were probably a gift.
It is hard to imagine even now that Harry would sell a gift from his father or grandfather — but surely their sale must have raised some social difficulty?
One thing is for sure. Guns are not the only thing Harry has given up for love and Meghan — an entire country, at the last count — but the question is, what has she given up for him?
We’ll look back on life under lockdown with affection
Is this really going to be our last weekend in lockdown? The daily figures seem to suggest the curve is not flattening, but remaining stubbornly robust.
A serious condition linked to Covid-19 is affecting children, while there seems to be no real evidence that in hotspots such as London there is less chance of falling ill than there was last week.
Hundreds of people are still dying every day, there are more new infections — are we really past the peak?
Is the crisis in care homes under control, can the new app really test, trace and isolate efficiently, are the NHS and key workers fully supported with PPE?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then surely we are safer in some form of lockdown?
My fear is also that coming out of lockdown will prove to be so much more difficult than lockdown itself. That we will look back on these days of isolation in a haze of warm affection.
The commonality of purpose, the shared experience, the sticking together — all that will dissipate once the rules are relaxed.
Already we can see the fracture lines forming. Will British society rupture further as the economic crisis deepens and people begin to understand the bleakness that lies ahead? I am afraid that the answer is – a yes from me.
The sad truth about Billie
Billie Henry has just been given a suspended eight-month jail term for harassing her ex-boyfriend.
The 28-year-old, who is the adopted daughter of Lenny Henry and Dawn French, began a campaign that caused distress and anxiety after the man ended their five-month relationship.
There were accusations of sex abuse, she threatened him with violence and bombarded him with emails, including some that she pretended were from her father, offering to pay off her ex’s debts.
It is clear there are enormous difficulties on all sides in this very sad case. However, can it really be true that the Press are to blame?
In Truro Crown Court, Henry’s barrister Jo Martin QC said that her ‘formative years were unusual and unique. Her parents did all they could to keep her out of the public eye but she was still subject to Press reporting and that had an effect on her childhood.’
Billie Henry (left) pictured with actress mother Dawn French and comedian father Lenny Henry
To be scrupulously fair, there has been very little about Billie in the news over the years, excepting the occasional lavish interviews given by her mother in Hello and other magazines — in which she talked about her daughter at length.
A far more statistically likely cause for any unhappiness in Billie’s childhood could have been her parents’ deteriorating relationship due to Lenny Henry’s reported infidelity — and their subsequent divorce when Billie was 18.
In more recent interviews, Dawn French has often talked of her fractious relationship with her daughter which she likened to ‘peacetime, battles, war’.
It is wrong, glib and utterly facile to try to elicit sympathy by blaming the Press for a family situation that is clearly raw, complex and difficult. I’m glad that in this case, the judge ignored the imputation.
Elon Musk and his girlfriend have called their baby X Æ A-12 Musk. Poor little mite.
It underlines my conviction that some people should never be allowed to be parents.
Especially the kind of selfish egocentrics like the Musks who never think about the playground taunts or casual cruelty that such a name might invoke further down the line.
Or indeed that the child will change his name to Derek or Simon as soon as possible.
The couple (pictured) may yet be thwarted. They have been refused permission to register the name in California — and it is heartening to see the authorities tightening up on such indulgent nonsense.
Recently, a Welsh mother was not allowed to call her baby girl Cyanide. But it sounds so pretty, she complained!
Elon Musk (pictured) and his girlfriend Grimes have called their baby X Æ A-12 Musk
Michelle’s supreme sacrifice
Michelle Obama said this week that having children was a concession she had to make that forced her to give up her aspirations and dreams of becoming Barack’s equal. As a politician, as a lawyer, as a professional person. Mrs Obama didn’t sound like she regretted her decision — but it does prove that women (even superwomen like her) usually are the ones who have to make the major sacrifices.
Nicolas Cage will be wonderful as Netflix star Joe Exotic — but there is a downside to the veneration of this tiger-baiting low life.
His simply awful park in Oklahoma is currently open and attracting even bigger crowds of stupids coming to gawp at his wretched animals.
Nicolas Cage will be wonderful as Netflix star Joe Exotic — but there is a downside to the veneration of this tiger-baiting low life