Susie Rushton: The aphrodisiac of hard work


Do you have a sexy job? If you’re a Premiership footballer, a TV presenter or a celebrity chef, you probably think you do. But the fashion of the times may be turning against these professions, at least in terms of their erotic appeal. Cosseted by agents, groomed by makeover experts so they resemble each other, paranoid about contact with “real” people, self-absorbed to a repellent degree, poisoned by too much money and fearful of ageing – the people doing these jobs are far less sexy than they think they are.

Similar doubts were raised about the allure of actors this week after shabby showings from two who are supposed to be the trade’s most desirable. Brad Pitt was papped wearing the DILF uniform of aviator shades and clingy black T-shirt for a trip to the playground with his twins. George Clooney celebrated his 50th by making a rather desperate Italian TV advert for broadband provider in which he lurks around a park picking up girls. Both are getting older. That shouldn’t be a bar to allure, but they don’t show signs of possessing the age-resistant charisma of the previous generation of actors (Paul Newman, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood), and it’s beginning to show.

In the post-boom years, a culture that has |encouraged excessive grooming and self-awareness is throwing the pampered professions in a rather unflattering light. The new sexy jobs bespeak a certain dynamism but actually serve a purpose. It’s the classic soot-smeared fireman fantasy, just in a different uniform. In 2011, physicists are sexy. So are landscape gardeners, sculptors, carpenters, farmers, nuclear power plant workers, builders, personal trainers and economists. Doctors are still sexy. Presidents are sexy when they’re in the Situation Room, less so when they preen for the world’s press at |summits. Professions ignored by the pernicious gaze of the mainstream media are sexy. In America, the pin-ups of the day are Navy Seals. Following the hit of the century last Sunday, the nations’ women have apparently fallen as one into a swoon at the thought of bedding a special forces operative. The Washington Post reports that there is already a sub-genre of |romantic novels based on clinches with Seals, and that publishers expect an increase in demand after the killing of Osama last week.

As the careers officer never tells you, the job you choose is important, because it helps to attract the opposite sex. Although plenty of young people will say they want to earn millions by thirty, then retire, what they don’t know yet is that doing nothing isn’t attractive. Mr Darcy, provided with £10k a year and the family estate to “manage”, may have set hearts fluttering – but that was back in 1813. Today, only a woman with seriously limited imagination gets off on the idea of being romanced by a layabout. Prince William, who doesn’t need to work at all, has a sexy job, saving lives in his search-and-rescue helicopter. Once, William’s riches and privilege alone would have made him hot. Perhaps even he can sense that the life of a royal freeloader – or doing any job that involves a man being “in make up” for any part of his working day – isn’t sexy any more. For some of us, it never was.

Actually there can be too much of a good thing

I’m all for seasonal eating. It’s cheaper, and makes more sense environmentally. It’s easier to cook with seasonal ingredients, too – through design or accident, the vegetables of the moment tend to work well with the meat, herbs and wine of the moment. The only problem is its popularity. For the last fortnight I have eaten asparagus at least once a day, and on several occasions, twice. One restaurant I ate in managed to crow-bar asparagus into every single main-course dish. Madly, I feel guilty for not eating it. Those lovely green spears – on special offer, grown just a few miles away and abundant everywhere – seem to chide me if I pass my hand over them at the supermarket. It could have been worse: I could have gone to the Asparagus Festival which began in the town of Evesham, Worcestershire a few weeks ago, where attractions on offer included dedicated “Asparabus” tours; a “King of Asparagus” contest, to see whose legs most resembled the vegetable; a fortune-telling “Asparamancer”… I’m not suggesting that we skip what’s ripe in Britain right now and eat air-freighted sugar snap peas. But seasonal food isn’t a substitute for creative cookery.

Bin Laden’s cables problem and mine

Much crowing over the wizened state of Osama bin Laden in a video released by the Pentagon of the terrorist in his “lair”.

I must confess that on seeing that freeze-frame of the hunched-up old man in his blanket, my eye was perversely drawn to the tangle of cables plugged into the extension lead in front of Osama’s crap television set, and while I didn’t quite sympathise with the mass-murdering terrorist, I did recognise the sorry scene. Even with access to stores that sell neat solutions for one’s TV/AV wiring needs, I’ve never managed to tame those dratted cables, and, like him, I am forced to watch telly with their dust-laden disorganisation at the edge of my field of vision.

I suppose he had no option but to live with the mess. Much has been made of the fact that Osama didn’t have a telephone line or internet access in his compound at Abbottabad. Did anyone consider that he just couldn’t stand having any more bloody cables in the house?