The Guardian, 9 December 2015

The woes of beautiful people have traditionally provoked tears so minute that they cannot even be detected by the naked eye which weeps them. Tell me again what a burden it is having lovely hair, glowing skin, and gorgeous symmetrical features. I long to hear more (and by ‘hear more,’ I mean ‘perforate my own ear drums with a spoon’).

And yet people have known for thousands of years that good looks are a mixed blessing. When the Roman satirist Juvenal advised his audience to be careful what they wished for, he included beauty as one of the erroneous desires. A handsome man would attract the attention of the emperor’s wife, he noted. Refuse her, and she’ll have you killed. Allow her to seduce you, and the emperor will execute you instead.

Sadly for handsome men, it seems their prospects are still impeded rather than enhanced by being hot. New research by London Business School and the University of Maryland has found that good-looking men are less likely to be chosen for jobs where their individual skills will be on show: in sales, for example. The potential employer associates good looks with competence, which you might think would make an attractive man an attractive candidate. But seemingly not: employers don’t want to be shown up by someone more competent than themselves. Especially not if he’s also a looker.


While this is plainly discriminatory, it does at least offer a small crumb of comfort to those who have been passed over for promotion. Were you really not the best candidate? Or were you simply too cute to be considered? As rejections go, it’s surely one of the less painful. But of course it doesn’t solve the problem of missing out on that elusive pay rise.


The only answer is to dress down for a job interview. Of course you can’t help being gorgeous. But perhaps you could temper it with zany socks, or a comedy tie. If you’re still missing out on the job of your dreams, then get a catastrophic haircut. Even George Clooney employed this tactic to land a part in Murder, She Wrote in 1987. And surely if it’s good enough for George, it’s good enough for the rest of you.

The joy of time zones means that in the UK, we can wake up every morning to some fresh idiocy from Donald Trump. This has added an extra nightmarish quality to his already poisonous public pronouncements, which is only worsened by his insistence on referring to himself in the third person. Gratifyingly, he tends to include his middle initial, as though even he cannot quite be trusted to differentiate himself from the other Donald Trumps, which presumably live inside his head, and tell him to issue his latest piece of frothing lunacy.

Social media has been quick to ally the Republican candidate for presidency with Harry Potter’s nemesis, Voldemort. But even JK Rowling has now said that Voldemort was ‘nowhere near as bad’. The Republican party has long known that it has a demographic problem: young people tend not to be their keenest supporters. It’s hard to imagine that changing now a generation of people who grew up with Harry Potter are old enough to vote.

Although its box-office takings have been disappointing, I very much enjoyed the Steve Jobs movie. Not least because it never shied away from his monstrous vanity and self-belief. It also reminded me what a stickler for visual detail he was. He must be spinning in his grave this week, with the launch of an Apple-branded iPhone case, which will boost your phone’s ailing battery life.

It’s a strange, hunch-backed thing; the spare battery protrudes oddly from the case and the price tag is frankly risible (£79). Apple usually gets away with high prices because the design is good: iPhones have plenty of failings (terrible battery life, for a start), but at least when Steve Jobs was in charge, they looked lovely.