JAN MOIR: From the boffin Neil Ferguson to Boris Johnson, sex still makes fools ...

We are supposed to be sophisticated people, living in a time of enlightenment. Look at us. We paint pictures, play the piano and ice our cakes with star-shaped nozzles.

At the end of every day, we count our blessings and praise the lord, as our menfolk dutifully trim nostril hairs and place their socks neatly in the laundry basket.

As an everyday snapshot of the ascent of man, this is as pleasing to me as anything social anthropologists could produce. We’ve come a long way, baby! Here we stand, supposedly on the uplands of human development and understanding.

Yet will the most basic instinct of all still prove to be our undoing? If this week has proved one thing, it is that even in a time of peril and crisis, sex still makes fools of many men.

Yet Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured) would ­possibly beg to differ. The beardy Sage boffin has had to resign after becoming overpowered by what Noel Coward called the ¿sly biological urge¿

Yet Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured) would ­possibly beg to differ. The beardy Sage boffin has had to resign after becoming overpowered by what Noel Coward called the ‘sly biological urge’

Consider for a moment the intensity of first love in rural Ireland, as depicted in the BBC’s lush adaptation of Sally ­Rooney’s novel, Normal People. It’s Fifty Shades Of Sligo, with the suggestion that between the long stares and the bedroom bonkathons, nothing in life is ever so ­passionate or all-consuming again.

Yet Professor Neil Ferguson would ­possibly beg to differ. The beardy Sage boffin has had to resign after becoming overpowered by what Noel Coward called the ‘sly biological urge’.

In a lockdown he helped impose on the entire country, Ferguson broke the rules to enjoy trysts with his married girlfriend, Antonia Staats. She is a polyamorous bee lover in an open marriage, a woman who buzzed away from her own hive, husband and children on at least two occasions to be with Professor Lockdown.

Now his career as an advisor to the Government’s scientific advisory panel is over — and for what? Well, we all know for what — a liaison dangereuse — but was it worth it?

‘I made an error of judgment,’ said Ferguson, but it wasn’t clear if he was talking about his bumbling bee love or his scientific modelling that has proved consistently wrong in almost every epidemic and medical emergency from Covid-19 to swine flu, bird flu, Ebola and Zika.

Ferguson broke the rules to enjoy trysts with his married girlfriend, Antonia Staats (pictured)

Ferguson broke the rules to enjoy trysts with his married girlfriend, Antonia Staats (pictured)

The miracle is that it is his hypocrisy that has done for him in the end, not his prediction that 500,000 people would die of coronavirus in the UK.

And if the Government has been so doggedly following the flawed science he has espoused for all these weeks, what has the scientist himself been following? Tragically it seems to have been nothing more complex than the atavistic urging from deep within his own underpants.

Ferguson and Staats met on dating site OkCupid, a fiercely libertarian online hook-up site with an emphasis on social justice as well as romance — because God forbid you should ever date someone with a differing opinion from the Left-leaning consensus.

Here, would-be lovers are quizzed on their attitudes to issues such as abortion and immigration, before being asked: ‘Would you ever tell a homeless person to get a job?’

Can I just say something? Ann Widdecombe need not apply. On OkCupid, Lefty is matched with Lefty, bee lover with boffin, in a passionate ideological lockstep on a site where new members are assured that they will ‘get noticed for who you are, not what you look like.’ 

Neil and fruity Antonia obviously hit it off marvellously — but what is truly incredible is that even in the depths of a pandemic, Prof Lockdown was clicking on, sizing up and checking out, perhaps even more in thrall to Cupid than Covid, keener on Staats than virus stats.

So desperate was our boy for love that he broke his own rules — while expecting thickos like us to carry on obeying them. It is infuriating.

What is it with men and sex? Don’t all answer at once. In her eye-popping memoirs extracted in the Mail this week, Vanessa Branson (sister of Sir Richard) revealed how her husband Robert Devereux left her and their four small children for a 26-year-old woman whom he said he was addicted to ‘like heroin’. As if that somehow excused his behaviour.

Pictured: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walking with his partner Carrie Symonds

Pictured: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walking with his partner Carrie Symonds

And look at our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson who will soon marry for the third time, leaving assorted children, wives and random emotionally bruised lovers in his chaotic wake.

I’m not saying that all men would be like the King of Thailand, riding out the lockdown in a four-star German hotel, with only a self-designated pleasure room and his 20-strong sex harem for company.

But perhaps a lot of them would, given the chance. The king’s concubines have been allocated names which hint at the truncated lives they lead, including The Beautiful One Who will Be Faithful To The King; She Who Obeys Lovingly; I’m Ready When You Are, Big Boy; and Are You Kidding? I’d Love To Do That Again.

If the sexes were reversed — they never would be, because women simply aren’t so stupid — the male harem would be called very different things, such as I’ve Fixed The Boiler, Love; Let Me Put The Kids To Bed Tonight; and the one that really gets me going — I’ve Gone To Live In The Shed.

Meantime, we just have to put up with the male of the species being let down by their loins, time and again.

However, the same applies to Professor Ferguson as it does to Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood, who had to resign after breaking her own lockdown guidance by visiting her second home.

It is not the morality, it is the hypocrisy that galls. In these difficult times, the public get particularly annoyed at those in power who do the very things they tell us not to. And you can’t blame Cupid for that.

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