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In praise of - ordinary.

THIS exegesis concerns mainly girls, or is at least sparked by a study of the species.

Not that I know much about the subject but, for the purposes of this column, I'm an expert.

My expertise began when I read claims by an academic that ordinary-looking "plain Janes" were happier at school than popular and attractive girls. Professor Carrie Paechter, a top expert at Goldsmiths College in Londonshire, concluded that sociable and successful pupils often had the worst problems because of pressure to stay ahead of the pack.

Not only that but members of the cliques they inhabit are likely to turn on each other. How awful it all sounds.

I must say my praise of "ordinary" is qualified. The Socialist politician and tabloid tittle-tattle target Tommy Sheridan often used to refer to "ordinary working-class people".

His aim was to liberate them from their oppression and so forth. But I often thought the epiphet "ordinary" somewhat demeaning in this context. Imagine addressing a packed hall (probably in the last century, right enough) and saying: "I have come to free you, the ordinary people."

At one time, ordinary people were thought to travel on the Clapham omnibus. A later variant of this featured Mondeo Man, a crucial target for the mercenary organisations known as political parties.

But I'm conflating two ordinaries here. The ordinariness of the girl scenario outlined above was essentially about looks. And here, I fear, it's also a mixed blessing.

Beautiful people do get better service and more smiles from the lieges. But they also get gawped at and, I must say, I wouldn't like that. Ordinary is, I suppose, a middle way between gorgeous and plug-ugly (see byline picture).

For some, it's an insult. For others, it's a state to which one aspires.

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