Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
Broadband from £5.99 a month with an included wireless router when you sign up to Plusnet - terms apply

Wednesday 7 December 2011

What a hero.

ONCE upon a time I was working on a local paper and interviewing a group of sixth-formers about some drama festival.

They were a combination of speccy, spotty and shy except for one lad who was already a man - his shoulders had broadened, his voice had deepened, and he was flirting with me like Rhett Butler twitching his tache.

For a moment or two I was smitten, then I asked him his age. "Seventeen," he said with a smirk, and I realised I was a pervert.

I was only 23 at the time but while six years makes not a jot of difference later in life at that age it's an uncrossable abyss. I paid taxes and he couldn't pay attention to anything that didn't have breasts. My first album was a Michael Bolton LP and his, whatever it was, would have been on a CD. I may as well have been his grandmother.

Then again when I was 17 I fell madly in love with someone who was almost 30. I was certain we were soulmates; he was in fact a bit of a twat.

So how come a 13-year gap when I was a feckless youth was all right, but a little bit later one of just six years seemed like perversion?

The truth is that with experience comes wisdom, and as you get older you realise it's just hero-worship, that 17-year-olds are full of hormones and that 30-somethings who sleep with them are full of crap.

Which explains why SHOUTY TV personage and serial-sleeper-with-famous-people Caroline Flack doesn't see anything wrong about an affair with boybander Harry Styles.

He's 17; she's 32. Were it Dermot O'Leary (38) and Amelia Lily (17) the age gap would not be much different and Simon Cowell would be pronouncing 'it's a no from me' while the nation retched into its cornflakes at pictures of an exploited child leaving his house looking dishevelled.

But Caroline (exes include Prince Harry, Jack Osbourne, Russell Brand, Robbie Williams, Dec Donnelly, Noel Fielding, Steve Jones, Alex Zane and Colin Murray) can't see why anyone should think that of her.

She said: "It’s a social thing that people aren’t accepting of big age gaps. I keep thinking, ‘What have I done wrong?’ But I haven’t done anything wrong. What’s hard for me to get my head around is people saying it’s disgusting. I don’t think it is.”

Funny, but she seemed to think it was wrong when the story first broke and her agent tried to tell a showbiz journalist their first night together was "just a snog". I'm not sure she'd be shouting about it if we didn't already know, and I'd be fascinated to hear what Harry's mum thinks about it all.

I'm sure Harry's enjoying it. But then, Harry's 17. Harry's an idiot. Harry (or one of them, I find it hard to tell these numpties apart) told a friend of mine: "We're not just a boyband, we're edgy, just like Take That."

Little Miss Shouty is not due the death threats she's had from One Direction fans - although how a threat from a random 12-year-old girl can be taken seriously is beyond me - but I can't help wondering if she'd be having a fling with a non-famous 17-year-old she'd bumped into down the Co-Op.

Perhaps the answer lies in her smiling for photographers who snapped Harry leaving her house early in the morning.

A smile which, I bet you any money, Dermot O'Leary wouldn't have the brass neck to flash if the old boot were on the other foot.