Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'Jamie Cullum could be the smallest person on the planet. If you go out for supper, does he use a high chair?'
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In an interview this week Sophie Dahl admitted to being "bewildered" and "horrified" by the media obsession with her boyfriend's height. She says the fact he's shorter than her is no big deal and that we should look past it. She says: "People have treated us like we're a carnival show. There's only 15 centimetres in it."

FIFTEEN CENTIMETRES? That's not a carnival show. That's a whole circus. Come to the big top and look at the super-tall supermodel and the insy-binsy teeny-tiny jazz player. Is he standing up? Wait, that can't be him? That miniature person who can't reach the top of a dining table? The little man who can't put a key through a front door without a stepladder? Are you kidding, love? You're lucky people aren't queuing round the block just to get a look at you two together. Seriously, Jamie Cullum could be the smallest person on the planet. He might be lovely and charming and you might think we all should spend more time talking about his piano-playing techniques but, seriously, have you seen how short he is? If you go out for supper, does he use a high chair?

A recent study has shown that small men really do have a complex – that Napoleon (or "short arse" to his friends) wasn't just livid because he always got out of the wrong side of bed but that he actually had something called "short man disorder". It had been dismissed as recently as 2007, but a recent study shows that it's a very real syndrome.

After much study, the researchers explain that small men feel insecure and can be aggressive or can try to make up for their, uh, shortcomings by being ultra successful ("Let me pass grade 8 piano even though I'm six," said tiny Jamie Cullum). Also, the scientists warn that these men "might want to control the situations they're in".

Insecure and chippy – not necessarily the things us girls look for in a man. So I started thinking about the traits that we always say are so important. They are usually:

1. a sense of humour

2. some brains

3. a love of life

Maybe it's time to study those attributes a little closer...

The sense of humour thing is always a red herring because we all know that men are only funny at the beginning. Sure, on date six you both CRACK UP about something that involves a donkey and a golf ball and a trip to Tenerife and blah blah blah but they're being witty because they're in love and they want to get you into bed. Come and talk to me about a man you've been with for 10 years and tell me about the last time he (purposefully) made you laugh. And I'm not talking about slipping on a wet floor or falling off a chair and breaking his arm. That's not a sense of humour – that's just amusing because by now you hate him. Anyway, the point is that women are funnier than men. Sorry. We go to our girlfriends for a laugh – men are too worried about where they put the car's logbook and if they should start wearing tank tops.

So then there's the brains question. I'm not sure a pretty and stupid man might be the key to a happy relationship. "Darling, I'm popping out to Christian Louboutin to buy a pair of 10-quid shoes and then I'm going out with the girls and I might not be home till three, and please can you do the kids in the morning and I'm really going to need a large wad of cash. Cheers," should be met by "Uh uh. I love you, snuggle bear" as opposed to the smart man's answer: "They're bloody not 10 quid. If you're out till three it means you're flirting with someone else and we'll do the kids together. And the wad of cash? Have you gone completely mad? How will we pay the phone bill? What do you take me for? A moron?"

And then the love of life thing? Me and my girls have always said it's almost the most important thing – the sexiest characteristic a man can have. Someone who wants to go out and drink two bottles of red and eat a hunk of raw meat and some triple-fried chips and then shag you senseless against a banister before playing some loud music and grabbing a pint of ice cream out of the freezer. But we're a bit older now and we don't like hangovers, we're trying to eat healthy food and our backs can't really take the banister action. Give me a man who wants to stare at the floor and order a small and simple (mild) curry any day.

So, on second thoughts, maybe the most useful attributes a man can have are a deep-rooted insecurity and a fierce will to succeed. Sure, if he's titchy he might get a bit shouty when the cashier can't see him or when he's asked for ID if he wants to buy a pint – but he'll feel small most of the time (um, because he is) and he'll try to be a success. That will make him the following: rich, needy and a little bit grateful.

Sophie Dahl – not just a pretty face.

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