Pamela, Delia and obsessions with cups

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The Independent Online
When I look at the cover of the current edition of the Radio Times, I am reminded of something said by a member of the Platters singing group in 1960.

He came to the microphone and said: "OK, now we're going to sing a song from a film in which Jayne Mansfield had a small part ... Well, two small parts, actually."

I remember that joke 36 years later because it pinpoints in my mind the fact that in 1960 it was Jayne Mansfield who was playing the part of the girl with the big bosom. Today it is Pamela Anderson, and she is on the front of the Radio Times for it. For that and nothing else.

You do not have to have actually seen Pamela Anderson. I have never seen Pamela Anderson. But I have heard her being mentioned and talked about and being made the subject of jokes, and I do not need to have seen her.

All you have to do is listen to the tone of voice in which people (they tend to be men) talk about her, to know that she is the one who is playing the part of the girl with the big boobs today.

There is always one.

There only needs to be one.

When I was a young lad, the one on this side of the Atlantic was called Diana Dors. She was famous for having a big bosom. I do not think she was famous for anything else, except a bit of acting, but no one noticed the acting. Her bosom stood out like the figurehead of a sailing vessel, so it did not really matter what the rest of her body was doing.

It might have been acting, it might have been weight-lifting, it might have been riding a unicycle, but what really mattered was the fact that in front of her projected two breasts which attracted people's attention like a lorry's twin headlights in the dark.

When I say "people", I actually mean "men".

Women have always scratched their heads in puzzlement over the way in which the twin attachments that nature has put on their chests to give milk to babies have been turned into sexual objects by men. Still, women have always scratched their heads in puzzlement over almost anything that men do.

When women get together and shake their heads in wonderment over the doings of men, it is almost as if they were talking about children. In fact, that is why women are so good at dealing with children. They have already had a lot of practice when dealing with men ...

The only reason I can think of to explain why women are so puzzled by the male fascination with female breasts is that it seems to be the only part of the body where the feeling is not reciprocated.

Both sexes can admire the other's legs, and bottoms, and eyes, and noses, and mouths, and so on up and down the anatomy. But I have never heard a woman say of a man: "By gum, he's got a lovely pair of nipples." So they must be puzzled to hear such a remark themselves.

And in any age, there is usually one poor woman, or rather one rich woman, who becomes the nation's pin-up.

Once it was Jane Russell.

Once it was Marilyn Monroe.

There was a woman in the Fifties called Mamie van Doren, who was Jayne Mansfield's understudy.

Then there was a woman called Sabrina, who had a bust and nothing else.

Later, everyone's favourite busty blonde was Barbara Windsor ...

And now it is Pamela Anderson. She is on the front of the Radio Times because she has what is now called a cleavage. That is all she has to do to get on the cover of the Radio Times. Have a cleavage.

Well, that is not quite all. You could also cook like Delia Smith, of course. Then you would be featured on the cover of the Radio Times every week. You would also get pages and pages of recipes inside.

(It might be easier if the Radio Times just had Delia Smith recipes, and Delia Smith had her own magazine that just listed TV and radio schedules ...)

But Delia Smith represents the other side of male fantasy, the motherly, capable, no nonsense, sensible, warm, unsexy side of womanhood. Delia Smith is the Vera Lynn of cooking.

Men would be very confused if Delia Smith were sexy.

Men would be very confused if Pamela Anderson could cook up a storm and explain recipes very easily in a best-selling sort of way.

Men are very easily confused.

Poor things. Aren't they sweet?