Good luck to Caroline Flack. She’ll need it

Television presenter Caroline Flack has been in the news for supposedly dating Harry Styles from One Direction.

Well, “in the news” is one way of putting it. Hounded and bullied is another, and not just by One Direction fans.

I keep expecting to look out of my window to see Flack being dragged through the streets, shaven-headed, and tarred and feathered. All because Styles is 17, while Flack is 32. Which seems to mark her out as a criminal, except in the eyes of the law.

Harry Styles turns 18 in a couple of months; does this make it any better? How about the fact that this is the same sweet innocent, tousle-headed Harry who, exactly a year ago, whispered excitedly into X Factor winner, Matt Cardle’s ear, onstage, in front of millions of viewers: “Think of all the pussy you’re going to get”? Styles’s comment was lip-read, and he later “explained” to Alan Carr that he was telling Cardle that he would be able to buy some cats for his mum.

If you say so, Harry.

So, this is the young chap we’re all supposed to be worrying about – the tender boy-flesh being sullied and exploited by the predatory Ms Flack?

Hardly a sheltered Little Lord Fauntleroy-type, is he? Perhaps not the kind of young man who would need much luring into a sophisticated lady-cougar’s boudoir?

Indeed, it would seem that Master Styles is, as they say, game, which in fairness marks him out as no different to the vast majority of music industry males. The wish for better luck with the ladies, to put it delicately, is the main reason – along with money – why such a disproportionately high number of sweaty-palmed crooners, twirlers and pluckers, are mysteriously attracted to a career in music.

All of which makes a nonsense of the recurring cry of double standards If this were a 17-year-old girl and a 32-year-old man there would be uproar. First, these kinds of male-female age gaps are not uncommon, and usually garner few objections. Second, it just wouldn’t happen in the same way.

As a rule, young females do not become performers in order to get sex. Young girls have their problems, their unmet needs are varied and many, but not in this department. It would be unlikely that a girl-version of Styles would feel driven to whisper excitedly into an X Factor winner’s ear, in front of millions of viewers… well, you fill in the blanks.

In this way, Styles should not be judged for wanting the same perks as innumerable comely hip-wriggling young crooners before him. Nor should Ms Flack be judged for taking him on. Far from it.

Personally, I am extremely concerned about this coupling, but only because I can’t imagine how any 32-year-old woman with a working brain could tolerate the irritation and the general lack of gorm of an average 17-18 year old. So far as I dimly remember, I wasn’t particularly keen on 17-year-old boys even when I was a 17-year-old girl, so this situation is mystifying.

Somebody mentioned “energy levels” to me, but let’s try to keep it clean. No offence to Harry in particular, who might be the most mature and fascinating of teenagers (and is just determined to keep it hidden).

However, just the thought of waking up, to find some Xbox-ing berk on the next pillow, asking if he can use the phone to tell his mum where he is, is surely enough to make the most voracious cougar want to retire quietly to the next room and hang herself with her support tights.

Ms Flack does not share my view, obviously.

But when I say, good luck to her, it’s because I think she really needs it. But then, it’s wee Harry Styles who seems to be getting all the luck.

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