Friday, 6 June 2008

Thinking Man's Crumpet

Joan Bakewell - crumpet, even with Sixties hair
The phrase "thinking man's crumpet" was originally coined by humourist Frank Muir back in the 60s to describe Joan Bakewell, pictured left as she was back in those days. Now, it has come to be a byword for any woman that looks good (that's the crumpet part) but has brains and personality to go with the beauty (that's the thinking man catered for). Google the term and you'll undoubtedly come up with lots of references to Carol Vorderman, but this is just plain lazy - just because she's good at maths doesn't make her thinking man's crumpet. Anyone who's watched her on Countdown in recent years would struggle to be too attracted to her, I would venture. But all is not lost... if you really must watch Countdown, you'll find that a genuine example of TMC resides in Dictionary Corner - the demure lexicographer, Susie Dent.

Sadie Jones - I'm a thinking man, and she gets my crumpet vote
In a recent poll, the aforementioned Vorderman was pipped to the post as TMC of choice by the lovely Nigella Lawson. Well-educated and a whizz in the kitchen, her vote was no doubt bolstered by her own, ahem, massive bolsters. Another name that often gets bandied about in such discussions in Mariella Frostrup - whilst blonde (most TMC is brunette, is seems - maybe a subconscious reaction to the stereotypical dumb blonde image?), Mariella's dusky voice has a curious power over the thinking man, and her current tenure of The Book Show on Sky Arts can only help matters.

So where's this post heading? Well, currently I'd give my TMC vote to the novelist Sadie Jones, pictured right. Not only does she look great, she's clearly a smart cookie (a successful screenwriter whose debut novel, "The Outcast", made the 2008 Orange Prize shortlist) and, like Mariella, Sadie has a voice to press the buttons of any thinking man. It is easy to imagine having a conversation with her into the small hours, luxuriating in measured responses, delivered in velveteen tones. To see what I mean, here's an MP3 of her reading from "The Outcast".

So, am I right? Wrong? Too opinionated? Have I missed your preferred TMC? As always, you're welcome to let me know in the comments, and if I get any good suggestions, I'll post them here... in the meantime, to familiarise yourself with everyone mentioned here, try some of the links below.

Google image searches: Joan Bakewell | Carol Vorderman | Susie Dent | Nigella Lawson | Mariella Frostrup | Sadie Jones

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