Whenever I found him with his arm around some woman I used to say to him, mimicking the voice of Harold Steptoe, ‘You dirty old man! I remember the horror of seeing him on the floor of the Groucho Club after he made a puckered-lipped lunge at a woman — and missed and fell off his bar stool.
At 80 he would wobble along on his walking frame and go up to women at bus stops and say: ‘Hello beautiful, want to have lunch with me? And yet here I am, nearly 60 and still on the pull.
’) In the presence of young women I keep my gaze averted; I do not kiss or hug them as a form of social greeting: I just nod and grunt — and all because I don’t want to be seen as a dirty old man.
There’s an obvious gender-based double standard at work here.
Ordinary men after a certain age are expected to be sweet, sexless eunuchs; not lusty lads with liver spots and wobbly necks, receding hairlines and — the horror! My point is that it’s time to get rid of the term dirty old man.