It might be my age (my next birthday's got a zero in it) but lately something strange has been stirring my waters. I can't stop wondering... is it just me, or has Beckham gone a tattoo too far? Is Clooney's twinkle finally fading? Does anyone still fancy Brad now Angelina's got him by the short and curlies? Is Ryan Gosling actually just an average bloke with a titchy kisser? Or maybe, just maybe, my theory is right, and the hottest thing in trousers is actually Panorama hottie, 'Jezza' Jeremy Vine!
I blame my job. I'm a novelist (of rom-coms, since you ask) and inappropriate crushes are an occupational hazard. A shrink would probably say it's not healthy to spend so much time fantasising about swoonsome, shaggable heroes, but what can I do? And my selfless musings on behalf of the readers are leading me to question whether all the Butler/Fassbender/Andre devotees are missing a trick. Beefcake and pretty boys have sooo had their day. In 2012 what the discerning woman should be seeking in her hero is a medium-sized chunk of home-grown, brainbox crumpet, complete with his own lunchtime radio phone-in!
Look at it this way... In the 80's we wanted our hunks muscly; the 90's pint-drinking 'lads'. By the noughties we fancied hair-gelled metrosexuals. But in these days of fiscal hardship and economic confusion, shouldn't we be looking for a new kind of hero - one who actually understands stuff and is a bit, you know... clever? I present the case for Jeremy Vine...
Unlike his Hollywood rivals, Mr V is a man of the people. He's not locked away by a team of publicists or bundled in and out of blacked-out SUVs - he's chilling out in the coffee shops of London, whizzing around on a bike, and exchanging tweets with (gasp) ordinary people, some of whom might even have wobbly tummies and flyaway hair. He's tall, dark and handsome... well, tall, grey and interesting looking. But looks fade, and at least Jezza's face still moves in all the right places. Actually, the more years that pass, the more attractive Mr V gets. He's finally grown into his suit. And it's not just his winning combo of manners and brains, his salt and pepper mop or 'clever' nose that make him so ravishing. Nor his dedication to his family (always a winner... remember Topless Athena Man?). It's not even the way he authoritatively presides over those egg heads, swings his ometer, or charms me daily over lunch in my kitchen. No, there's more to Jezza than that! Mr V is warm, funny and self-deprecating (I reference his profile picture on twitter), has cracking taste in music (despite the R2 playlist) and a devastating ability to empathise when nasty things happen to very nice people. He's a real man - the type who knows stuff about the EMF and garden slugs - and can chinwag with anyone from prime ministers to grannies. He's a public servant (oh how the 'servant' bit makes me swoon!) and champion of good. He reduced Gordon Brown to a head-hanging hulk, and dressed as a cowboy on election night. He's got a funny brother. He's written a book, for heavens' sake! Plus you know you could take Jeremy home to your parents, safe in the knowledge he won't challenge your dad to a fist fight or gawp at your comely aunt's chest. And unlike the himbos we're all supposed to fancy, Jeremy is guaranteed never to wear his trousers half-way down his bottom, his baseball cap backwards, or jostle you for position at the mirror. His face is likely to remain his face. He's also unlikely to blow his pension on hookers, get a tattoo, or greet your local WPC 'sugatits'.
And ladies, if that's not enough, there's simply no pleasing you!
'Alice Brown's Lessons In The Curious Art Of Dating' by Eleanor Prescott is out now, published by Quercus.