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Love etc

In praise of the straightforward man

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

When the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips married the potato-like rugby player Mike Tindall in 2011, “the shallower among us wondered what she saw in him”, says Julie Burchill in The Spectator. “We’re not wondering now.” Tindall, competing in this year’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, is a beacon of calm and competence among his shambolic, “creative” male co-contestants. He’s a “human Swiss Army knife” – no fears about touching a spider from a man who’s punctured a lung and broken his nose eight times. And outside the jungle, Mike and Zara always appear to be having a laugh in photos: this is a “mate-marriage”, not the most glamorous kind but “definitely the most enduring”.

Why don’t more women opt for straightforward men? “I blame the Brontës.” Early exposure to Heathcliff and Mr Rochester gives us the notion that a man who is emotionally unstable is a catch. “But, like Maoism and love-bites, what looks becoming on the young is cringeworthy in the old.” Today’s climate of “feelings and emotions” is a gift to volatile, blowhard men, who use the cover of emotional vulnerability to be abusive. Just think of Johnny Depp, “king of the superannuated Bad Boys”. I would advise young women that “if they have a choice between a straightforward man and a pound-shop Heathcliff, take the former”.