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Love etc

The trouble with toy boys

Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

There’s been a “flurry” of stories recently about the “great and life-enhancing” practice of older women sleeping with younger men, says India Knight in The Sunday Times. Author Melanie Blake, 45, has written about having “three lovers in their twenties”. In Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Emma Thompson stars as a “repressed middle-aged widow” who has a sexual awakening with a younger male prostitute. All too often, mature women hook up with youthful men for sex, then publicly trumpet the fact “as if it were cool”. But publicly trumpeting “the excellence of the sex you’re having” is most definitely not cool.

Besides, it’s taken most of my lifetime for the “old bloke/young girl setup” to be met with the scepticism it deserves. When the 52-year-old Rolling Stone Bill Wyman married the anorexic 18-year-old Mandy Smith in 1989, it was breezily billed as a “fairy-tale wedding”. Nobody said: “Someone help that poor girl.” Surely, we can’t now succumb to double standards and “coo our admiration” for women fetishising young men? Dating toy boys isn’t a ground-breaking act of emancipation; all too often it’s “the sex equivalent of comfort-bingeing biscuits because something sad or bad has happened”. All that said, the subject does remind me of the “unimprovable reply” of Joan Collins, when she was asked about her husband being 31 years younger than her: “If he dies, he dies.”