English roses fall for Saint Jonny
THIS time last week I had a terrible hangover. I woke up at 6am wondering why my head was throbbing. Then I remembered.
“We won,” I said to my husband.
“I want to read the papers,” he replied.
“I want to marry Jonny Wilkinson,” I said.
“I do too,” he said. That’s the thing about Jonny. Everyone adores him. My husband doesn’t even mind me having a crush on him. He is Jonny. He is the greatest living Englishman. Never mind his girlfriend and his mum cheering him on, the rest of the nation is behind him. And most of the female population would like to be on top of him.
I have noticed a change in my friends over the past few weeks. These are professional women of a certain age. But they are acting like teenagers.
Jules Ritter, for example, a free-lance writer and mother in her forties, spends most of her days sending me links to gay sporting websites where, once you get past the more obscene items, there are pictures of Jonny without his shirt on.
What does she love about him so much? “It’s the facial expression, although the bottom is lovely, it’s that ‘come-hither look and we’ll have some fun’ that I adore,” she says.
“He is so incredibly private and low-key and this gives him an air of mystery and thus obviously more sex appeal. The exact opposite of those talentless celebrity-seekers, Jordan and Posh types.”
A doctor friend of mine has five children, so plenty of choice for screensavers there. What picture does she have on her computer? Jonny taking a penalty. Why, I asked her. “Don’t ask stupid questions,” she replied.
But it’s not only sad middle-aged women like me who adore him. A friend’s 14-year-old daughter loves him, as does her grandmother.
Although I wouldn’t mind taking him home myself, he is the kind of boy I would be delighted if one of my daughters came home with. He would be a model son-in-law, polite and helpful around the house.
He’s a nice boy with good manners and a sense of fair play. When he wins he is as gracious as when he loses. When he lies on the ground it is not because he thinks he can convince the ref to give him a penalty but because someone has taken him out.
Some say he’s boring, that he’s too obsessed. “How do I meet him?” panted one friend during the England-France game. “By disguising yourself as a rugby ball,” responded another.
People say he’s a rugby-play-ing anorak and deeply dull due to his focus and single-minded-ness. I don’t agree. I love that ambition and determination. It makes him even more attractive. This is a man who wants to be the best in the world at kicking a ball over a post. Trivial? Dull? Maybe to some, but not to me and most of the female population of England.
To us he is a superhero. Jonny comes in at the last minute and scores the drop-goal to win the World Cup. He tackles men four times his size but unlike most superheroes he doesn’t wear tights or a cape. Instead he wears an English rose and looks divine. And he takes the pressure so well.
What must it feel like to walk onto a rugby pitch and know that the opposing team has only one strategy: get Jonny? Obviously this is a strategy the female population of England can relate to, even if it is a tad unsporting.
What’s not to like? He is not using rugby to get his own TV show. That doesn’t interest him. He’s unlikely to have his own range of foul-smelling fragrance. Jonny has no sarongs, no celebrity girlfriends, no stupid hair-styles and no tattoos.
Jonny’s just a proper bloke with drive, ambition and determination to win for himself, his team and his country.
And a cute butt, obviously.
Internet joke at the Australian team’s expense
Question: What’s the difference between the All Blacks and an arsonist?
Answer: An arsonist wouldn’t waste five matches
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor in chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. Helena is working on a thriller called Thin Ice that will be published in 2021 as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
Her latest non-fiction work Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles came out in hardback in 2016 and in paperback in April 2018.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019