Belfast Telegraph

Why it's time that we grew up from lazy view of older women

By Jane Graham

Sixty-nine-year-old Jacqueline Bisset, once described by Newsweek as the most beautiful actress of all time, said recently that older women want to have sex but men don't want to sleep with them.

I don't know if you've seen Jacqueline Bisset lately but I think it's reasonable to say most sexagenarian gals would give their eye teeth for her still sultry big eyes, pouty rosebud mouth and Catwoman legs, even taking into account the negative effect the loss of both eye teeth might have on their general allure.

Most of the readers' comments which followed the online story noted Bisset's perpetuating appeal, with many younger gentlemen generously offering to allay her concerns about her waning attractions by treating her to a late night beer and chicken 'n' chipolata surprise. Even the enlightened chap who confessed to a concern that, at her age, she might smell of boiled cabbage, seemed willing to have a go at cheering up poor old Jacqueline.

It was certainly heartening to see evidence of the open-mindedness of Britain's keyboard warriors – so often written off as flabby, flatulent, family disappointments – to the notion of using their powers for good.

The ever-gallant Ian Fleming, perhaps with the voice of equal opportunities cheerleader James Bond in his ear, once said that older women were best "because they always think they may be doing it for the last time". Whether he thought that an amusing aside or a progressive statement to be lapped up by increasingly desperate middle-aged feminists, it probably says more about Fleming's sexual appetites (or aptitude for one-liners) than it does about older women.

Despite Fleming's endorsement, however, the idea of the older woman being an erotica-free zone, a figure whom even other women prefer not to have to look at, persists. It must be noted that the armchair Caligulas pitching their wares to the supernaturally gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset stated that, if she had looked more like "a normal" 69-year-old woman, their kind offers to satiate her frustrated libido would not have been forthcoming. It was the absence of her resemblance to a dried-up prune, one opined, which sparked his benevolence.

I thought about Jacqueline Bisset this week when a fashion catalogue called Fifty Plus came through my door. Though I don't quite fit its demographic yet, the slim directory gifted a glimpse into a future that will one day be mine, and I browsed with all the enthusiasm of a woman standing in her kitchen waiting for fishfingers to brown.

Something very odd immediately struck me. Despite the pamphlet's target audience of comfort-seeking fiftysomethings, there wasn't the sniff of a model over 35. Ice-cool Hitchcock blondes with Kelly Brook cleavages gazed thoughtfully into the distance in beige linen-mix slacks. Kate Middleton doppelgangers threw back their luxuriant heads of raven hair in laughter, freed from constraint by their elasticated-waist stonewashed jeans. As for the minxy coquettes bouncing around the lingerie pages in extra-support full-cup comfort bras and Playtex maxi briefs, most of them looked like they were using their wages to prop up their student grants.

I don't quite follow the logic of Fifty Plus eschewing bona fide 50-year-old women. Perhaps they feared a catalogue full of senses-assaulting older models would be banished by the image-sensitive man of the house. Or maybe they thought dreamy grannies felt they could knock off 20 years with a flannel bathrobe showcased by their granddaughter. Unfortunately for them, women who've been around a few decades tend to be pretty savvy. It'll be them, not their husbands, sending these catalogues straight to the bin.

Abortion row has me lost for words

I couldn't trust myself to remain calm and intelligible if I concentrated 600 words on the woman who, after being raped, became pregnant in a country where abortion is illegal, could not travel abroad to be treated due to her legal status, went on a hunger strike and was then force-fed to 'protect her and the unborn baby's life'.

That this tale of medieval barbarism, which climaxed in the woman's 26-week-old foetus being taken from her body via a Caesarian section, should happen in Ireland, defies comprehension.

I won't be the only person who read it and wept and raged with the madness of it all.

Don't forget who the Doctor is really for

Tomorrow is a big night for television and for the myriad parents who have delighted in watching their children being entertained, thrilled, educated about history and encouraged to be more tolerant and compassionate by the wondrous thing that is Doctor Who.

The unveiling of new Doctor Peter Capaldi has triggered a wave of interest among young and old but, though I'm a Malcolm Tucker devotee and huge Capaldi fan in general, I hope the kids aren't being forgotten in the bid to make the show ever darker and more profound. We adults have plenty of quality TV fare, our children have little. This must be theirs.

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