Today’s “Why even are men?” story comes courtesy of Sir Benjamin Slade. If you watched Doctor Who at the weekend and expressed a longing to do some time travel of your own, step right this way, because ol’ Benny boy is going to take you right back to the 1700s with his search for a wife young enough to provide him with an heir. It’s like the world is hurtling backwards more and more quickly, isn’t it? 90s fashion is back, Europe is sliding into fascism and now men are taking wives so they can have an heir, rather than because they love them. Soon we’ll all be riding dinosaurs to work and doing mindful cave paintings in our spare time.
Anyway, back to Benjy. He is a 70-year-old baronet (a member of the lowest hereditary titled British order and not, as I thought, a fancy musical instrument) who recently split up from businesswoman Bridget Convey because, at 50, she is too old to have children. Sir Benjamin, who owns two castles, is seemingly very concerned that he won’t have someone to inherit all his money from him when he dies.
A few years ago, he put out an advert for anyone with the “Slade” surname to come forward, so that he could do a DNA test on them and see if they were a distant relative (disappointed that there wasn’t a cheeky teenager from an estate who came forward and fiddled the results, to be honest) and now that’s failed, he’s advertising for a wife instead. Yes, advertising. I’m not sure where – the back of Tatler? The posh person’s version of Gumtree? Stuck an advert up in the window of his local Sainsbury’s? – but you know a relationship is going to be good when your lover is advertising for your services like you’re a gardener or have a carpet-cleaner you’ll rent out for £50 (collection only).
“I am interviewing hard,” he said about his romantic quest, presumably while lounging in a wingback chair in a library with a black Labrador called Tess at his feet. “I have had a few proposals, but sometimes the women are past their sell-by date and have been over the guns a few times.” By “past their sell-by date”, I can only image that Sir Benjamin is referring to fertility, which is ironic considering, at 70, he’s probably blowing a cloud of white dust out the end of his knob every time he ejaculates.
I do think it’s unfair that Slade is rejecting women for being “over the guns a few times” when he’s not exactly been living a sheltered life. His romantic history is quite the thing to behold. His girlfriend before Ms Convey “went off with my handyman in 2011, but was already showing signs of madness” and, before that, he had a heated High Court custody battle over a dog when he split up from the Countess of Carnarvon. Apparently, the Countess of Carnarvon was “very difficult to live with” and I can see why Benjy would have a problem with that, because he sounds like a bloody dream to wake up to every day.
I think I’m speaking on behalf of all womenkind when I kindly request that you take your sweet potatoes and your dead beaver and bog off
That said, you can’t say that Sir Benjamin isn’t still putting the effort in. “I am like a feudal prince when it comes to throwing parties. I am also on the Genghis Khan diet, which is recommended for young lotharios and involves eating sweet potato, sunflower seeds and horny goat weed.” Just a note for whoever does end up marry thing this guy – never, ever let him cook for you. “It was recommended by my French nephew, who is 70 and hasn’t a single grey hair.”
But, you know, rather than mocking him, maybe we should try and empathise with Sir Ben. It can’t be easy running a 2,000-acre estate. “The annual heating bill is £24,000; insurance is £15,000,” he said, sadly. “I’ve always wished my name was Smith and that I lived in a council house.” And he must have difficulties that we plebs can only dream of – why, just last year, he had to offer a £1,000 reward to anyone who could help him kill a rogue beaver. When your life is as lonely, complicated and, let’s face it, batshit as Sir Benjamin’s, can people really blame you for wanting a young, fit wife to share it with?
The answer is yes. Yes, we can and I do. Ben, I think I’m speaking on behalf of all womenkind when I kindly request that you take your sweet potatoes and your dead beaver and bog off.