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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 14th November 2004

Why Anne's plastic really isn't so fantastic

I sincerely hope Anne Robinson's surgical makeover doesn't start a trend. Am I alone in thinking that women always look worse after they've been cosmetically enhanced, no matter how much money they lavish on the procedure? Anyone at all skeptical about this should pay a visit to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Every second woman you pass looks as though she's battling against a 200mph gale in a wind tunnel. The nickname for these society matrons in Los Angeles is "fish people".

In the case of Anne Robinson, it's hard to imagine what the point is. After all, it's not as if anyone will be fooled into thinking she just happens to be aging well. Every single paper this week has been plastered with pictures of her new face, accompanied by yards of column inches speculating about what she's "had done". But if everyone knows that she's gone under the knife, doesn't that defeat the purpose? From now on, she won't be known as the woman who looks good for her age, but as a fading celebrity who's disfigured herself in the hope of staving off obscurity.

Even non-invasive procedures like Botox can be counter-productive. A couple of years ago, I was persuaded by a newspaper to have some of this poison injected into my forehead with a view to writing about it afterwards. Unfortunately, no one told me it would make the top half of my face completely immobile for six months.

I didn't realize how important being able to frown is until I could no longer do it. I first discovered this when one of my best friends was holding forth on the crisis in the Middle East. I attempted to frown in order to convey my skepticism, but he just carried on regardless. It was only then that I realized I'd been deprived of this ability. For the remaining six months, I had to endure this same friend addressing any number of international topics, from the threat of international terrorism to the situation in Northern Ireland.

When the Botox eventually wore off there was another treat in store. Several of the muscles in my forehead became so overexcited about recovering their powers of movement that they would continue to move, completely at random, whether I wanted them to or not. This had the opposite effect. Now, when someone was telling me something I was desperately trying to feign interest in, my brows would scrunch up into a spontaneous frown, as if I thought they were talking absolute rubbish. This didn't go down very well when my mother-in-law, let me tell you. I don't think she's ever going to pass on any of her gardening tips again.

My forehead has now returned to its original state and I'm not going to go near another drop of Botox as long as I live. It's clearly too late for Anne Robinson, but I urge anyone else considering this procedure to steer well clear of it--along with all other forms of cosmetic enhancement. Believe me, you look much better as you are.

Pity The Blessed...

There's no mystery as to why Nicole Kidman has gone out on a series of dates with Steve Bing. So what if he behaved like a complete cad towards Elizabeth Hurley? The guy's richer than God. As they say in America, he may not be much of a gentleman, but he looks pretty big when he stands on his wallet.

In one way, I feel sorry for Steve Bing. He suffers from the same curse all rich men are afflicted with: no matter how many beautiful actresses he goes out with, he can never be certain they're not just after his money. The same applies to very handsome men like Jude Law: how can he be sure Sienna Miller isn't just interested in him for his looks?

Luckily, being neither rich nor good-looking, I don't suffer from these insecurities. Back in my bachelor days, on those rare occasions when I picked up a beautiful actress--and there were a couple--I felt a rush of elation that the Steve Bings and Jude Laws of this world can never experience.

Ah, the blessings of being short, bald and penniless. People like me may not score very often, but when we do we feel a sense of achievement that members of the lucky sperm club, whether they've inherited a fortune or a handsome face, can only dream of.

What Women Want

I was surprised to read that women respond well to being stared at in bars. According to a study carried out by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Urban Ethnology at Vienna University, men who repeatedly glance at their intended targets are more likely to pull than men who diffidently look away. On average, successful pick-ups were preceded by 13 glances in half an hour.

In addition, the Austrian boffins discovered that women respond well to aggressive body language, such as slapping people on the back or jabbing them in the ribs. These "space-maximisation movements" effectively send a signal to available females that the man in question is an alpha male and, hence, good breeding material. Men who fail to score with the opposite sex, by contrast, tend to sit with their arms and legs crossed, looking balefully at the ground.

So much for women preferring metrosexuals to traditional, red-blooded heterosexuals. This study gives the lie to those who claim that girlie-men like Orlando Bloom and Tobey Maguire have replaced he-men like Mel Gibson and Sylvester Stallone as the new male sex symbols. When it comes to choosing a mate, women still prefer boorish, rugger-bugger types who enjoy throwing their weight around and aren't shy about chatting them up.

Welcome To The Z-List

For a moment, it looked as though all my Christmases had come at once. One of London's better-known hotels asked me if I'd be interested in turning on their Christmas lights. In return, I'd be entitled to stay in the hotel's largest suite for the weekend and have full run of the hotel's luxurious facilities, including a five-star health spa.

Naturally, I said yes. Here, at last, was the fame I'd always dreamed of. It's one of those perks that's normally only offered to members of the cast of East Enders.

Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived. The following day, someone from the hotel called to say they'd found another "celebrity" to switch the lights on instead. At this point, I should have simply accepted the situation graciously and hung up. But I didn't. Instead, I asked who it was.

"Jack Klugman," replied the embarrassed PR girl.


Apparently, he's the 82-year-old actor who played Quincy in the 20-year-old TV show.

I wish I hadn't asked.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is currently playing at the Arts Theatre. For tickets call 020-7836-3334

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