Flat-headed and toothless, the new ideal woman

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DESPITE press enthusiasm for chewing over the details, there are aspects of the Taylforth libel case which I still find mystifying. I know all too much, thanks to a pair of Sun reporters, about the requirements for oral sex in Range Rovers; I also know what Gillian Taylforth might do if asked to perform her party turn.

But I am troubled by exactly how the 'news' that she and her boyfriend Geoff Knights were cavorting in their car travelled from the police to the Sun. Neither was charged. Is there some kind of open season on celebs at the Met? Could officers conceivably receive payment for titbits about their encounters with soap stars?

It also seems very odd that in this era of rising crime, valuable villain-catching time was lavished on an activity which, but for police zeal, would have gone unnoticed by anyone.

But all this pales beside the hypocrisy of the men in the case. Mr Knights told the court he held Ms Taylforth 'in too much respect' to countenance her involvement in oral sex.

George Carman, counsel for the Sun, suggested she was 'capable of coarseness . . . sexual coarseness of a kind some of us might not find particularly pleasing' - indeed, that she had been 'behaving in a way that one hopes the majority of young women in this country would never behave'.

Oh, yes? According to the national sex survey serialised over the last two weeks in this newspaper, two-thirds of women behave in this way. Are they all constantly being rebuked by husbands and boyfriends for carrying on so coarsely? Apparently not at all. I have canvassed my girlfriends, and it is their universal experience that coarseness of this kind is just what men want. As for men themselves, one confided to me that the perfect woman is waist height, with no teeth and a flat head. The flat head's to rest your beer on.

I WAS less startled by Graham Taylor's immoderate language on television last week - those words were regularly shouted at our screen when he was managing England - than by the profundity of his insights. 'In life,' he told his team before the crucial World Cup qualifier against Holland, 'there's so many opportunities, and so many people that never see them. And then there's people who see opportunities and don't grasp them. And then there's others - who are life's winners - who see opportunities and grasp them.'

Inspirational in its acuity, you have to agree, and I am astonished that the players didn't perform better afterwards. I hope management training video-makers will sign up Taylor promptly, so that a wider audience might benefit from his wisdom. Perhaps they could start with lessons on How To Handle The Press. Taylor demolished Today's Rob Shepherd, who queried his team selection, with the elan of a Cantona dodging four defenders and slamming the ball in the back of the net: 'Don't be silly . . . please don't be silly that way Rob. Listen Rob, I cannot have faces like yours round me. Put a smile on your face, Rob . . . (and, in an even whinier voice than usual) please . . .'

ESSEX is looking for a new image, 'along the lines of the Lake District'. But Essex is not along the lines of the Lake District; and I suspect tourism officials are

engaged in a dangerous game of trying to sanitise and homogenise a county which has many delightful eccentricities and foibles all of its own. They should stop thinking Swallows and Amazons and healthful walks and concentrate on what good old Essex has uniquely to offer.

It is the only county, for example, where I have ever seen a man emerge from a Rolls-Royce to spit on the pavement; the only one where ladies over 50 have to wear velour tracksuits when they go shopping. Even our bodies are different in Essex, much browner than anyone else's, on account of the fact that we have more sunbeds per square inch than anywhere else. We need heritage tours of our porn kings' mansions, and our ancient woodlands famous for their high level of used car dealers' wives' bodies.

A FRIEND got home last week to find her hall littered with sanitary towels. Someone had shoved them through the letterbox.

'Many women experience discharge in between periods,' an accompanying leaflet warned severely. 'Although this is a perfectly normal part of the menstrual cycle it can feel uncomfortable and stain your underwear.' Have these people not heard of washing machines?

Apparently not. But my friend wasn't so much intrigued by the ever-growing range of products designed to stop stains you never realised you had, nor by the leaflet, with its erratic way with typefaces, not to mention literacy ('Dri-weave channels moisture into the liner to leave you feeling cleaner and drier while the soft sides are designed to make the pantyliner so comfortable you'll hardly notice your (sic) wearing it').

What really interested her were the likely reactions of other recipients: her fellow-tenants are very proper ladies of 68 and 84.

People complain about sanitary towels on televison all the time, according to the Independent Television Commission, even though you can only really see the ads in the middle of the night. (Scheduling restrictions were tightened after the nation's womenfolk - 'very few men complain' - were shaken to the core by Claire Rayner's excitement about Vespre's wings).

A spokeswoman for the manufacturers of Always, the products currently clogging up the halls of west London, claimed she'd had very few complaints - although she admitted they'd only just started the sampling, and there was no telephone number on the leaflets.

She claimed there was a 'strict targetting policy' and if a man answered the door, 'the lady withdraws'. I pointed out that no one had even knocked on my friend's door and that far from withdrawing, the lady had just shoved her towels through. 'I'm afraid,' said the spokeswoman, 'that's all I have to share with you right now.'

(Photograph omitted)

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