Wake up, you sad middle-aged fools! It's not your body these girls are after



08:45 GMT, 13 September 2012

Caught out: Andrew Marr pictured with a much younger woman outside a London bar in the early hours of Saturday morning

Caught out: Andrew Marr pictured with a much younger woman outside a London bar in the early hours of Saturday morning

What is it about middle age men and their libidos The other day I was commiserating with my friend Catherine, whose portly husband of 30 years had abandoned her — and, apparently, all reason — for a woman his daughter’s age.

Catherine is the archetypal homemaker: loyal, dependable and discreet, she has for the past three decades quietly supported her businessman husband’s successful career. How could he have deserted her for a floozy after all those years of love and quiet self- sacrifice Obviously she was bereft.

I was reminded of Catherine this weekend when Andrew Marr, 53, a married father of three, was caught canoodling drunkenly in the early hours outside a London bar with a much younger woman who was very evidently not his wife.

The woman — identified only as a
colleague — had apparently been carousing with Mr Marr and other
co-workers to celebrate the completion of his latest BBC series, History
Of The World. They had paused in their revelry to snog against some
railings like two rampant teenagers, then returned to the bar to down a
few more drinks.

So what turned old Jug Ears into a fully-fledged, grade-A lothario

I’ll tell you: the lustre of his successful TV career has magically rendered him highly attractive to women.

This is not, of course, his first indiscretion: in 2003 he had an extra-marital affair. His long-suffering wife of 25 years, Jackie Ashley, evidently forgave him.

They continue to live together, though she is, by his own admission, ‘very cross’ about his latest misdemeanour.

He insists he is not having an affair. But what he clearly is undergoing is a surge of career-induced self-confidence.

Andrew Marr may not have been blessed with matinee idol looks, but he has a brain the size of Berkshire and, as a former newspaper editor and BBC political editor who is the presenter of a host of TV shows, rubs shoulders with the most powerful people in Britain.

These jobs give him cachet, prestige.

That’s why impressionable young women are attracted to him — they wouldn’t have found him nearly so alluring if he’d been some suburban nonentity earning 15,000 a year.

Power and money, as the cliche goes, are potent aphrodisiacs, and when allied to the status of a successful career, the mixture is, it seems, irresistible.

This weekend, we saw another man in advanced middle age making an arrant fool of himself. Sky News presenter Dermot Murnaghan, 54, in ridiculously age inappropriate sportswear, was caught smooching in a park with lissom Camilla Tew, 31, his make-up artist.

What on earth was he thinking Certainly not of his poor wife Maria, 50, mother of his four children. But then we all know decorum and common sense desert these daft men when they are in the grip of an infatuation with a young lady in the office.

And it happens to men in all walks of life: bankers, lawyers, doctors, accountants — they all seem to fall prey to an office junior — beguiled by their power and desperate to get a career boost — who strokes their balding pate and massages their burgeoning ego.

These men, gripped by a late-life surge of lust, seem to forget the sacrifices their spouses made towards their success. I’ve seen it again and again: men — with devoted wives who raise their children, keep their homes pristine and discreetly endure the decline in the physical side of their relationship — start acting like lust-obsessed adolescents the moment an impressionable young woman pays attention to them.

Smoochy: Sky Newsreader, Dermot Murnaghan with his make-up artist Camilla Tew in Hyde Park, central London

Smoochy: Sky Newsreader, Dermot Murnaghan with his make-up artist Camilla Tew in Hyde Park, central London

I know first-hand because sadly my own marriage came to grief over a similar scenario. When I first met my ex, Rod Liddle, we were journalists at the BBC. He was a producer on Radio 4’s flagship news programme, Today, and I was a financial journalist.

Looking back, it is clear that as Rod climbed the career ladder, the thicker and faster the affairs came.

Once he achieved his goal and became editor of Today, it was as if he felt entitled to have it all: a happy home life with me and our two children, and the thrill of an illicit office dalliance with whichever moppet was most flattered by the attentions of the man running the programme.

So while I was ensconced at our home in the country — raising our sons, cooking meals, keeping the house and somehow juggling my own career — Rod frittered away money on lavish parties in fashionable London pubs and clubs.

Of course, wives and girlfriends were never invited to these shindigs, ensuring he had the freedom to exercise droit du seigneur over pretty office juniors.

Which begs the question, of course: what was in it for the girls

They may have believed it would advance their careers; certainly they would have enjoyed the entree into a sophisticated world and the association with movers and shakers.


Engineering and IT are the professions where men are most likely to cheat on their, wives, according to a dating site survey

But was good sex the lure I wonder. Because as Rod’s professional success advanced, it seemed to me, as his wife, that his sexual potency declined commensurately.

I know he had at least three affairs and I found out about the last — the one that precipitated the end of our marriage — when I found Viagra in his pocket. I knew it hadn’t been used with me. It brings to mind the witty decision of clever, sassy Jerry Hall, the ex-wife of inveterate philanderer Sir Mick Jagger, to become global ambassador for a drug treating erectile dysfunction.

She did not, of course, suggest that Sir Mick — with whom she had children and a 23-year relationship — would have benefited from the drug.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only wronged wife with a faithless middle-aged husband who enjoyed the authority and conviction she brought to her role.

At heart, there is something undignified about men past their physical prime making idiots of themselves with younger women. An affair may inflate their self-esteem for a while, but it usually does little for their career.

Bill Clinton never recovered politically from his liaison with Monica Lewinsky.

Boris Johnson would have risen to higher office had he not been so brazen about his affairs, and John Prescott only confirmed his reputation as a buffoon when his relationship with Tracey Temple, his secretary, came to light.

The point is that men in their 50s behaving like sexually incontinent adolescents lose the gravitas and credibility gained from their high-flying jobs.

Former US president Bill Clinton

London Mayor Boris Johnson

John Prescott

Dangerous liaisons: Bill Clinton, left, Boris Johnson and John Prescott, right, all had controversial relations

We rarely hear of successful career women in senior positions — captains of industry, news readers, police chiefs — rendering themselves risible by having affairs with office juniors.

The idea of coolly intelligent Fiona Bruce being caught in a fumble with a tea boy is laughable and preposterous.

Yet successful men seem to think a furtive liaison is not only a job perk, but also ultimate proof of their alpha-male status. Actually it isn’t.

It begs the question: why do their egos need such bolstering In the end, they must ask themselves how they want to be remembered: for their talents and achievements or for their petty sexual misdemeanours

Men, like my friend Catherine’s husband, may enjoy the thrill of their illicit fling. They may even go on to marry their young inamoratas. But what happens when they reach their drooling, incontinent dotage and their wives are in their middle-aged prime

Will those trophy lovers stick around to push them in their bath chairs and spoon-feed them Somehow I doubt it.