ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: So what exactly is the appeal of a fit It Guy?
Covid has changed a lot of things in our lives, but it has failed to play with a lasting fascination: who is dating whom. What has changed is who the partners are.
Far fewer young women associate with older men. As one of them told me recently, “We just don’t date older men. It’s weird.’
How different from my cohort, who in their twenties often had relationships with older men.
Our boyfriends – who might be five, ten, sometimes 15 years older than us – just seemed more interesting and exciting than boys our age.
The older men introduced you to different people and had more experience in many ways.
Instead of girls dating older men, it’s much more common for boys this age to date older women. There are high profile couples like Alexa Chung, 38, and Orson Fry (above), 27, who are practically doppelgangers.
Yes, they took us to some great restaurants that we couldn’t afford, but that was not the point.
They had confidence in themselves, confidence in themselves. We certainly didn’t find them scary – at least not most of them.
Now things have changed. Instead of girls dating older men, it’s much more common for boys this age to date older women.
There are high profile couples like Alexa Chung, 38, and Orson Fry, 27, who are practically doppelgangers; director and mother of two Olivia Wilde, 37, and Harry Styles, 27, one of the most successful It Guys of her generation; and Helena Bonham Carter, 55, lives with dashing art historian Rye Dag Holmboe, 32.
But it’s not just the celebrities. I have noticed this new trend more and more among my own family and friends.
We’re not talking about making a Mrs. Robinson – predatory older women moving in with naive young men. Neither toyboy seeks to bridge the gap between serious relationships. No. These are serious and seemingly long-lasting relationships. What is behind the role reversal?
Helena Bonham Carter, 55, lives with dashing art historian Rye Dag Holmboe, 32
One possibility is that younger men admire the same traits in older women that once appealed to me in older men, namely their confidence and experience.
Another is that nowadays there really isn’t much of a difference between a man in his twenties and a woman in his thirties, except one important thing: the desire to have children.
But even that is not the problem.
Or maybe starting sex with a stranger is so limited by what is now considered acceptable or unacceptable behavior (question – is anyone rushing for a kiss again?)
Maybe an older woman seems less vulnerable. Maybe they’re more likely to be an initiator. I have no idea. But either way, the demographics of the age of parenting looks set to undergo a significant shift.
We will no longer see older fathers from the second marriage competing in the Father’s Race on School Sports Day. A bunch of fit, surprisingly young men will race along the track in their stead.
Why we are all looking for a refuge
More than a day before the reservations desk opened last weekend, a long line had formed in the freezing cold to grab the summer rental at a tiny beach hut in Dorset.
It’s a real determination to get your hands on 6ft x 4ft of space on a crowded plaza.
But the huts were never about space. Their enduring appeal is about something else. It’s a throwback to the fun many of us remember from a treehouse or a childhood teepee in the backyard or even a tent under the dining table.
More than a day before the reservations office opened last weekend, a long line had formed in the freezing cold to pick up the summer rental at a small beach hut in Dorset
A place to hide. Escape. The ultimate bedroom for you, with a feeling of privacy.
Just ask one of the thousands of people who have put up prefabricated huts during these pandemic months, when we have been locked up with our loved ones for longer than we would like.
If it’s good enough for the queen …
I’m not usually superstitious, but that doesn’t stop me from being a little nervous about keeping the Christmas decorations after Twelfth Night, which is supposed to bring a year of bad luck.
So the tree, cards, and fairy lights were all quickly removed and the house looks sad and empty.
I miss the smell of pine needles and the colors of the balls and the festive atmosphere. But… I just found out that the Queen keeps her tree until February – and, as regular readers know, I’m a fan of almost everything she does.
Since Her Majesty has maintained this practice for years, I do not think that the annus horribilis of her last 12 months can be attributed to the Christmas decorations.
So next year, I will do the same and hold on to the sparkle to brighten up the greyness of those gloomy January days. Let the gremlins do their best.
The writing is on the wall for my doodle
Novelist Colm Toibin revealed on Radio 4’s Today show that he handwrites all of his novels.
Many novelists swear that connecting pen to paper is an intrinsic part of the process. Yet with the use of computers we lose the ability to write by hand.
It reminded me of how much I failed to deliver on last year’s resolution to improve my own writing.
I vividly remember the intense pleasure of learning to write as a child – the careful formation of the S, the tail of the lowercase g, the ban on looping characters in the Marion Richardson script we were taught.
And then take a fashion to learn italics, and an attempt at ornate calligraphy. All of this translates into my handwriting today, which is notoriously unreadable.
The bird flu victim must have been a gosling
I have long marveled that Gardeners Question Time panelists Bob Flowerdew, Anne Swithinbank and Pippa Greenwood all had horticultural names.
Now, nominative determinism has given us two more crackers: Alan Gosling, the first man to contract a new strain of bird flu from his flock of Muscovy ducks – and (as he must surely be called now ad infinitum) the star. of tennis ‘Novax’ Djokovic.
Nominative determinism gave more crackers: Alan Gosling, the first man to contract a new strain of bird flu from his flock of Muscovy ducks – and (as he surely must now be called endlessly) the tennis star ‘ Novax ‘Djokovic (above)