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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 23, 2006 / 25 Iyar, 5766

A downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even prettyones

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It is a curious fact, well attested by history, that a downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty ones. The recent uproar over John Prescott and his mistress is a good example. Of course this may have been a case of power acting as an aphrodisiac. Henry Kissinger, a keen student of such matters, has always insisted that power, or even mere office, is a sexual magnet. I recall him leaning across a dinner table, at a time when the antics of the late Alan Clark were in the headlines, and seeking from me an explanation of Clark's success. He was particularly struck by the conquest of what Clark called 'the Coven' — the wife of a South African judge and their two daughters (a third wasn't interested). 'Sure, he was a minister,' said Dr Kissinger, 'but he wasn't even in the Cabinet.'


Power and potency are closely related. Dr Kissinger himself is a good example of someone who radiates potentiality even when not in office, and his attraction for women is notorious. There are of course outward signs of inward grace. The Kissinger voice, with its deep gravelly timbre, strikes one as a pointer that ladies cannot ignore. A society woman with sharp eyes once listed for me other signs, and not just symbolic ones. She said that once, at a New England house party, sitting by the pool, she had been studying the great doctor's physique when a momentary disarrangement of his swimming-trunks had given her an uncovenanted glimpse of what she called his 'machinery'. 'I 'ave nevair seen a pair like it,' she said, 'vraiment Únorme!'


Another factor not to be ignored is humour, and the capacity to generate it. Here I think Alan Clark scored, until they got to know his jokes, which may explain why his fascination tended to be fleeting. It is striking how often, in surveys of women about what attracts them to men, sense of humour comes top of the list. What precisely this means, of course, is mysterious. Falstaff, listing his attractions, called himself not merely witty 'but the cause of wit in others'. Perhaps this is Prescott's strong point. He is more a buffoon than a wit, but he certainly gets the professional humorists going. Perhaps women like to laugh at, rather than with, him. Female humour can be capricious.


Take the case of Herbert Spencer, founder of the science of sociology, a heavyweight Victorian seer who, in his day, was on a par with Carlyle and Ruskin. His weighty tomes are unread today and he survives chiefly through obiter dicta, such as, 'A propensity to play billiards well is a sure sign of a misspent youth.' True? False? The only person I know of who got a half-blue for billiards at Oxford was Mr Attlee. He doesn't prove Spencer's point at all. Spencer never married, but he always attracted women, sometimes remarkable ones. George Eliot fell deeply in love with him, and wrote him one of the most remarkable letters ever addressed by a woman to a man. I wish I had space to quote it in full. It appears to be a proposal of marriage, or at least a suggestion that she become his mistress. Needless to say, it filled Spencer with terror, and nothing came of it. Later in his life Spencer caught the eye of the lady who became Beatrice Webb, like Emma Woodhouse, 'handsome, clever and rich'. But Spencer would not have her either. He kept house, for most of a decade, with two young, unmarried ladies, said to be pretty. But he did not warm to either, and eventually quarrelled with both.

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Spencer had no sense of humour at all. But he practised laughing, and developed a powerful chuckle which crescendoed into a roar. He also made jokes by way of experiment. He was once on holiday on the Isle of Wight with G.H. Lewes, who by then had taken on the weighty responsibility of being George Eliot's lover. The two men were at lunch when Spencer said, 'These mutton chops are very large for such a small island.' He started to chuckle, and his chuckle was so peculiar that Lewis chuckled too. Then Spencer worked up to his roar, and Lewis found himself roaring too, and they slapped each other on the back and stamped their feet and roared and roared. They made so much noise that George Eliot eventually appeared and said, 'What are you laughing about?' Lewes explained as best he could. George Eliot listened carefully, weighed the joke about the mutton chops in her mind, front, back, sideways and upside down, translated it into German and back again, Greek and Latin ditto, and finally pronounced, 'I don't think that is at all funny.' Then the men started to laugh again, and George Eliot retired to get on with Middlemarch.


The two maiden ladies wrote a book, Home Life with Herbert Spencer, in which they gave examples of his experimental jokes. Being very prim, they were astounded when he once appeared, half-dressed — well, I say half-dressed: he was in shirt-sleeves and tying his necktie — and announced, 'I have thought of a joke, and I have come down to fire it off before I forget it!' Then followed the joke (not funny at all) and the chuckling procedure. The real joke, of course, was that there were two maiden ladies, instead of one: 'Safety in numbers.' But if he thought of it, he never told it to the ladies, dressed or undressed.


Spencer's attraction was, essentially, that he remained unmarried. Women saw it as a challenge. They still do. The opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice encapsulates one of the permanent truths of society. At one time I had some dealings with the late Arnold Goodman. He was not merely ugly, he was grotesque. And he was not merely overweight, he was monstrous. Of course he was a good and kind man, with many virtues. But he had none whatever of those little graceful habits and felicities which endear men to women. Yet there was always talk of the ladies who wished to marry him. They were not wizened spinsters, either, but formidable operators in some cases, not in the first flush of youth to be sure, widows as a rule, but ladies who carried respectable artillery in the way of looks and figures, wealth and social position. He presented a problem to them, to be solved. None of them solved it, however. He remained a bachelor. And it was by his own choice.


There will always be Goodmans and Prescotts, not doing too badly.

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Eminent British historian and author Paul Johnson's latest book is "American Presidents Eminent Lives Boxed Set: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant". Comment by clicking here.



Previously:

04/25/06: Was Washington right about political parties?
04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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