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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Over 50? Here’s how to be a MAD (midlife, attractive and dependable) man

Hollywood star Paul Rudd, 52, has been named this year’s Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Are we bothered? No. ­Sexiness is subjective, after all, and Paul Rudd hasn’t been on our radar much since Anchorman. Then again, Rudd is a very autumn 2021 choice – a midlife, attractive, dependable (MAD) man – and that has got us thinking.

Obviously we’re assuming this – he’s an actor, about whom we know little – based on his twinkly eyes, easy-going demeanour and, above all, his advanced age. He’s 52, which hitherto was considered at least five years too old for sex symbol status. (We checked and of the four previous winners of the SMA the eldest, Idris Elba in 2018, was 46. Even silver fox George Clooney was 45 when he won back in 2006.)

Suddenly MAD men over 50 are having a moment, their years on the clock are a bonus and the floppy fringed shoegazers and black-toothed highwaymen types are looking very pre-Covid. We live in turbulent, insecure times and the last thing you want when you can’t even guarantee turkey at Christmas is a smouldering bad boy who can’t do his own washing, however well defined his pecs are.

Midlife women naturally gravitate towards all things dependable, life enhancing and trouble-free and now that applies to their men, too.

We want a sunny disposition, domestic competence, an excellent SOH and lashings of can-do spirit, with nice eyes and hands thrown in, and the more MOR the better. These days when we look at pictures of Pete Davidson we feel positively anxious.

Rudd, on the other hand, is in the twinkly but safe category of men. He’s the sort your mum likes more than you (“Isn’t he lovely, you are so lucky”), who is happy to help your dad in the garden, easy with children, comfortable in the kitchen and emotionally intelligent. When you list the attributes of MAD man it is hard to imagine why he hasn’t always been the epitome of sexy – but that’s because we are looking at it from the perspective of a midlifer living in 2021.

Paul McCartney

He was the least fanciable of the Beatles, we always thought, and that was back in the Abbey Road days. Now, on reflection, Paul was the responsible one, the mum- and dad-friendly one, the sunny “we can work it out” one, as well as being fit in the best way (long lasting) and now that he is 79 (gulp) he gets our vote over meaty old Chris Martin from Coldplay any day.

Matthew Macfadyen

To be fair, Macfadyen is not yet 50 (he’s 47), but the point is that he has MAD cred and we would take him over Nicholas Braun (who plays Cousin Greg opposite him in Succession, and who is supposedly the most lusted after actor of the hour). In fact the very qualities that have made Braun irresistible to a younger audience – his naivety and opportunism, plus an awkward puppyishness – are the very qualities we have gone right off. We’re not unmoved by Greg, and might be tempted to mother him if we were to come across him, but that’s it. Very much over the man mothering in general.

Charlie Ireland

Otherwise known as the land agent/farm management adviser on the Amazon series Clarkson’s Farm, Cheerful Charlie is – we’re sure he’ll forgive us for saying – an average-looking sort of bloke of roughly 50something who you would not necessarily guess counted as a MAD man but who nevertheless is precisely that. We’ve said before that even Clarkson has risen up the attract-o-meter since the series began, just by virtue of demonstrating that raising sheep gives him more pleasure than doing doughnuts on the track at Silverstone. But Clarkson is still not really a grown-up (that’s part of the point), not fully reconstructed (also part of the point), not particularly considerate and we know from his girlfriend that he can only cook one thing which doesn’t sound like you’d want to eat it. Charlie Ireland, on the other hand, is calm, confident, decent, not in the habit of ­bull—–ing and quite charming. We would not kick Paul out of bed to get to him but he has earned his place on the list.

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