Emma Cowing: Men behaving badly, I’ve got news for you
AH, AUTUMN. Season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and midlife crises – if you are a 50-something male TV presenter with a Sunday morning current affairs show named after you, that is.
Last weekend, both Andrew Marr (he of the BBC) and Dermot Murnaghan (him off Sky) were caught with women who weren’t, well, their wives.
Marr, who has been married for 25 years and has three children with his wife, Guardian columnist Jackie Ashley, was snapped by a photographer outside a London pub doing what can only really be described as “groping” a woman identified as a colleague on Friday night. Marr is 53, although by the looks of these pictures he is 53 going on 13, and was quick to explain away the situation as soon as he realised he had been caught red-handed.
“It had been a long drunken evening and it was just a silly thing,” he revealed with all the candidness of a man who knows the super-injunction ship has long since sailed. “It was just two drunken journalists having a farewell clinch after working fantastically hard together for two years. There is no romantic connection between us. There never has been and never will be.”
I see. Obviously I move in the wrong journalistic circles, because I have worked fantastically hard with many people for many years yet not once has this happened to me. Perhaps it’s a London thing.
Meanwhile, Murnaghan, who is 54, has been married for 23 years and has four children, was photographed in a London park with a 31-year-old make-up artist named Camilla Tew who clearly wasn’t on hand to touch up his eyebrows. The two were seen holding hands, kissing and generally acting like loved-up teenagers.
First of all, you have to ask why both pairs chose to conduct their indiscretions out there in the open. Whether or not you are in the public eye – and these two indisputably are, indeed both are arguably household names – one would think that if you were even considering kissing someone you weren’t married to, you would have the nous to do it behind closed doors.
Then again, perhaps they didn’t have much choice. Murnaghan was photographed wearing his cycling gear, an outfit which smacks of “Righty-ho dear, just off for a bike ride, might make it a long one today, see you later!”.
Marr, meanwhile, was obviously trying to conceal his “farewell clinch” from his other colleagues in the pub by popping outside (perhaps, in a misguided vision of his own studliness, he thought they might be jealous).
It is, of course, very easy to blame all this on the notion of a midlife crisis. Indeed, one wonders if either of them have splashed out on a Porsche yet or got themselves down Diesel for a collarless leather jacket. But perhaps not. Perhaps it’s the strain of hosting their own Sunday morning TV shows, the pressure of seeing their name on the schedules on a weekly basis, or the knowledge that each week they must grill some top-flight politico in a manner that’s going to give their news channel a decent headline for the next few hours. Maybe they are under marital pressures we know nothing of, or perhaps they just needed a break.
The truth, however, is that I really do not care why either of them are getting up to no good. It is of no interest or concern to me, and to be honest thinking about it for more than a few moments makes me feel little short of queasy.
What I care about is the fact that they’ve done it at all, and that they’ve done it in public, and they’ve been caught, and now we all know about it. What I care about is that so many men – and it is still more married men than women – choose to have extra-marital affairs. I care that this world still appears to be populated by men who think it is acceptable to act like little boys: whether it be Boris Johnson and his serial adultery, Prince Harry and his inappropriate nudity, or the latest distasteful antics of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
And I care that almost every time this happens, it is left to the women – whether it be the wives or the mistresses – to pick up the pieces.
The TV show Men Behaving Badly may have ended years ago, but the sequels are being played out every day right under our noses. There is nothing humorous or “silly”, as Marr would have it, about such behaviour. It’s simply appalling. It’s time for the likes of Marr and Murnaghan to grow up.
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