Simmy Richman: I can cheer up Cheryl with my pot belly

The perfect antidote to Ashley Cole
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The Independent Online

There are not a lot of words that can offer comfort to a man of a certain age with a spare tyre slowly inflating itself around his middle. A kindly yoga teacher once told me that the stomach is home to our intuitive knowing, and that a round belly is a sign of wisdom. But my own convex midriff owes less to sage thoughts and more to enjoyment of the sugar-coated finer things in life. The sad fact is I am more Homer Simpson than holy Siddhartha.

So Cheryl Cole's announcement last week of the sort of man she is looking for to replace the philandering Ashley Cole came as a rather pleasant surprise. "A guy could be in Speedos and be ripped to within an inch of his life and I don't think I'd look again," she told a radio interviewer. So what would make her cast a second glance? "It would have to be the Bermuda shorts and the pot belly."

I'm in. And, under the ancient law of Friends, there is nothing my wife can do about it. For the uninitiated, I refer you to season three, episode five, in which Chandler tells Ross about the deal he has struck with his girlfriend Janice, wherein each is allowed a "freebie list"; a chance to pick five celebrities they can sleep with without the other being able to object. "Ah, the heart of every healthy relationship," Ross remarks dryly. "Honesty, respect and sex with celebrities."

Needless to say, Cheryl – lovely, homely, sexy, a little bit posh, a little bit rough but with her racist past firmly behind her, Cheryl – is on my freebie list. Not, I suppose, that it is sex with a Muggle that our Cheryl – lovely, homely etc – is looking for. Because the implication behind that Bermuda shorts/pot belly comment is that what Cheryl really wants is a bloke she can settle down with, have children with, grow old with ... and trust.

Is this just classic rebound behaviour; wanting the precise opposite of what you had? Who cares? Because, inadvertently, what Cheryl Cole has done is given every Joe Shmoe a shot of hope they have not felt since Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller.

So what is it that a stunningly beautiful woman gets out of a relationship with a plain-looking man? Certainly, when that man happens to be, say, Bernie Ecclestone, Dudley Moore, Jack Nicholson or Jamie Cullum, the answer is the chance to shine in the reflected glory of his great wealth or modicum of talent. But Cheryl has great wealth and a modicum of talent of her own, and further to that, an international celebrity is not what springs to mind when you conjure up the Bermuda shorts/pot belly combo Cheryl is pining for. So perhaps her thinking has more to do with the fact that, having married a man whose narcissism rivals her own, she is now looking for someone cosy and secure, a big, bouncy bag of comfort she can come home to when the jet-set stress of her band, solo career and role as an X Factor judge gets too much.

And yet, while the tabloids get their kicks offering up "larger than life" contenders to fill the vacant hole in Cheryl's heart, the bookmakers are being slightly more pragmatic. Paddy Power has not, as yet, shuffled its "Who will Cheryl date first?" list to include James Corden, Justin Lee Collins or Peter Kay. In fact, the bookie's favourite (at 6-1) remains Derek Hough, the super-fit and toned dancer and choreographer Cheryl was seen walking around Los Angeles with just after announcing her split from her husband. "He's a sweetheart," Cheryl has said of Hough, although it now seems that, unless he starts packing away the Krispy Kremes, the poor lad doesn't have a chance.

So Cheryl, if you're reading this, my Bermudas have been ordered online and should be with me shortly (see what I did there? I've also got a GSOH!). And for your additional security at this most fragile time, you should also know this: that though my pot belly bulges out of the top of my jeans most satisfyingly, I can still see over the top of it just enough to tell whether my flies are open or closed.