A little taster…

In Beauty on November 25, 2010 at 10:06 am

To get us all in the mood, to introduce new friends from countries apart from Australia to what I do – and to make sure I know what the feck I’m doing on here – here is a column from my archives.

I wrote this in 2002 – and I can now reveal that the secret meeting I was being so coy about was my National Childbirth Trust group.

I have read several times and with great interest about ‘research’ which scientifically proves that both partners in a couple tend to be of the same attractiveness rating. I love it when something so airy fairy is scientifically proven, don’t you? Makes me feel better about writing about handbags for a living.

Anyway, this fascinating fact was tested by ‘researchers’ using a very cunning method. First they got a load of psychology students to agree to take part in the experiment in return for some free instant coffee and a cheap biscuit. Then they gave them photographs of individuals which they were asked to rank according to babeliciousness, on a scale of one to 10.

These scores were then added up by the cone heads and divided by the number they first thought of to give them each person’s bonkability rating, which presumably went from phwooooooar to pass the sick bag.

The next stage of the experiment was the cunning bit – because the people in the photographs were actually all halves of couples and when the researchers paired them up again it turned out the they all matched on their bonkability scores. So the phwoooars were all with other phwooooars and the vommie bags were all with other vommies.

Or when I say ‘all’, I mean close enough to send the researchers off to the nearest bar for a big piss up to celebrate. This is called a ‘statistically significant’ result and it means much more likely than just ‘chance’.

To find out what the chance rating for an experiment like this is you have to do a really ghastly statistical calculation which will make you sob into your calculator, until you find a stats nerd willing to do it for you in return for a packet of rolling tobacco and the odd hello in the quad.

I found this out in my second year of studying psychology at university and as a result was very relieved to be able to switch my honours subject to History of Art, where the most stressful part of the course was deciding what to wear to present your slide lecture to the class.

Anyway, I was reminded of this ‘study’ the other night when I was sitting in a room, in a circle, with my partner and 10 other couples between the ages of 23 and 45. Don’t ask what we were doing there, we were just there, OK?

Of course there is nothing more fascinating than having 20 total strangers to sit and perve and as I sat there gawping at them all it struck me how perfectly matched they all were on the pashability chart.

There was one rather plump couple – OK, they were total lard arses – who clearly enjoy nothing more than a night in front of the telly with pizza deliveries on a relay. I’m afraid I would have marked them as 4/10 in the study. Not nice to judge people, I know, especially on appearance, but this is science, OK?

Anyway, so they were fours, but the majority of the couples would have scored five or six had I been studying their photographs in a booth while eagerly anticipating my Nescafe and custard creams, but even within those scores they fitted together into sub-groups.

There were the straight down the line five out of ten couples and then there were two couples who could have scored higher had they not had frightful beards and helmet haircuts.

But most fascinating was the pair who were clearly the nines of the group. He was a very handsome banker with black hair, blue eyes and high colour in the cheeks (divine). She was his quality blonde consort, with plump lips, big blue eyes and a glossy bob. They were both taller than the rest of us.


Anyway, having sat and obsessed on this for an hour or so something awful occurred to me. There was every possibility that other members of the group were sitting there doing the same thing. Where – I wondered – were my partner and I ranked?

Actually, I really don’t want to know.

The former Mr and Mrs Lloyd Webber

  1. As a psychologist, I love your description of statistical significance. As a former NCT member (we’re Aussies, but our son was born in beautiful Edinburgh, meaning he is eligible to play for both teams in The Ashes) I love your description of the other participants! We had a “9” couple in ours too… though I swear their rating plunged to a 3 after they snuck out at the first break to have a smoke together.

    Lovely to be able to find you here! Best of luck with it 🙂

  2. Dear Maggie, I just signed up to your brand spanking new blog this afternoon whilst I was clearly very busy at work (not). I couldn’t have been more excited when your little “taster” dropped into my inbox at 9.07pm. I thank you!

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