The news that Hugh Grant has fathered a child by the Chinese actress Tinglan Hong after a brief affair earlier this year has met with predictable howls of outrage. The blogosphere positively seethes. As one online post put it, "When everyone starts asking why there are so many single Mums in the UK look no further than the behaviour of feckless men like Hugh Grant for your answer – Shame on you Hugh for your sleezy [sic] behaviour both past and present." Another read: "Yet another child brought into the world the victim of a free relationship where adults have put either a lack of planning or their own selfish wants ahead of what is the best for the child."
Is there no end to this man's gall? Apart from the fact that he has remained happily single for his entire adult life, he has now had the irresponsibility to get a woman pregnant, end the relationship, and then turn up nine months later as the "delighted father" – despite not even bothering to attend the baby's birth, and then sodding off to spend three days playing golf (note for ordinary fathers-to-be: don't try this at home).
Do I detect a scintilla of envy in this stance? Because Hugh has got it well sorted. He had sex with a gorgeous woman 20 years his junior and then sires accidentally on purpose (most mature "unplanned" pregnancies are accidentally on purpose) a child who he can see whenever he feels like it.
What's not to like? Hugh is thrilled. Ms Hong has not uttered a word of complaint, and why should she? I have no idea what her financial circumstances are but they have just improved immeasurably. And, by all accounts, they're (genuinely) still good friends.
As for little Hong, it could be a lot worse. Not only is she guaranteed material comfort but a dad who definitely wants her and who will doubtless, if the golf is anything to go by, only see her when he genuinely wants to. Is that so bad? After all when I don't want to see my kids, either because I'm tired or irritable, I'm usually horrible to them.
Separating from the mother before the child has even gone the first trimester turns out to be an excellent solution to future discontents. I bet there are plenty of couples who wished they'd thought of it themselves. The bonds of familiarity that keep so many unhappy couples together haven't had time to forge themselves. Everybody wins.
So why the hatred for Hugh? Simple. Men can't stand him because they're envious. Women can't stand him because he's got away with it. But I think he's an example to us all. Or at least those who happen to be rich, famous, charming and handsome. As for the rest of us, tied by circumstance, habit and financial limitation, we can only gasp with indignation – or admiration, depending on how honest we are.