There is a scene in the 2003 Richard Curtis comedy Love Actually that is deemed so infuriating to British women, that sticky popcorn residue can still be found on television sets across the land. Gormless Colin Frissell re-locates to America to find himself a girlfriend and manages to find not just one gorgeous girl in Wisconsin, but three; each one more fabulous than the last. "Stateside, I'm Prince William without the weird family”, he says excitedly.
We may roll our eyes. But Curtis is right - it is a truth universally acknowledged that our nation’s men are considered wantonly desirable by many an American woman. And the allure of the stereotypical British man in pop-culture can be no better illustrated than through the love life of Taylor Swift.
Swift is known for having three British paramours; and now, allegedly, there is a fourth - Joe Alwyn a pin-up pretty actor from London who still lives at home with his parents. Joe follows a well trodden path as her exes include boybander turned solo artist Harry Styles; superstar DJ and producer Calvin Harris and actor and rumoured new Bond, Tom Hiddleston.
There’s no denying it: like many great American women before her, the 28-year-old Nashville popstrel has a serious predilection for British blokes.
A “quintessential panty-dropper” (as he is gloriously described by his former classmate, Jordan Burton-Williams - a man likely to be on the receiving end of a terse text message, right about now), 26-year-old Alwyn and 28-year-old Swift are said to have been quietly-but-seriously dating for a few months - but are yet to be photographed together.
Swift is no doubt sensitive to media intrusion, after last summer’s highly visible PDA with Hiddleston - a relationship so public, that Buzzfeed dubbed it, ‘elaborate performance art’. The same mistake is not likely to be made twice. She is said to be operating with successful sartorial subterfuge, in a series of wigs and props that have seen her thus remain incognito.
This is all of course a great shame and missed opportunity, because Swift has not only shown admirable dedication over the years to British men, but also with their wardrobe.
When dating Styles, she mirrored his affinity for peacoats and brogues. Those brogues gained a couple of inches when she met Harris, as Swift acquired a newly sassy Young Hollywood-approved wardrobe of hotpants and mini co-ords, fit for the girlfriend of a British-by-way-of-LA superstar DJ.
With Hiddleston, Swift entered what I like to call “the romantic European” phase: white jeans with floaty blouses; flowing tea dresses; matching espadrilles and synced snogging - to offset his ever-present embroidered Ralph Lauren polo horse - before both emerged from the romance, seemingly embarrassed that the other had ever happened.
This roster of (mainly blonde) English men have also provided tasty fodder for Swift’s hugely successful pop music. Out Of The Woods, about "a relationship where I was kind of living day to day, wondering where it was going” was reported to be about Styles, while Better Man, a song she wrote for the band, Little Big Town, about a painful break-up ("he didn't know what he had when he had it") was speculated to be about Calvin Harris.
Of course, when you’re as famous as Swift, even writing about what you ate for breakfast is dissected for hints of romance. But what else does Swift love so much about the British man? Let us count the ways...
1. They are worse at dating than American men
The British dating system is infinitely less angst-ridden and logistically onerous than the American. A minefield of multiple-dating and hook-ups, romance across the pond is a slickly co-ordinated, competitive sport; it is perfectly normal to court five people at one time (and Swift’s far too busy writing hit albums, for all that).
“Brooke at 7pm, Candice at 9pm, Jane at 11pm,” an American man once chuckled to me.
In Britain, modern courtship revolves around an inordinate amount of booze. Man coyly over top of fifth pint: “tonight was fun. Fancy this again?” Roll forward a few years and one has fallen, without ceremony, into the other’s abode. In America, there is great onus placed on every micro mile-stone from the “let’s be exclusive” chat to the “exchanging of the key.” British men can’t be bothered with all the exhaustive compartmentalising. Quite frankly, they’d rather be drinking another pint.
2. They aren’t obsessed with university
The Bullingdon Club Boy may be a niche type of posh chap best avoided, but in America 'The Cult of the Frat Boy' reigns wide. Never will you have to hear a British man wax lyrical on how ‘epic’ his Kappa Gamma Alpha Theta Sig frat house was, while regaling you with some hilarious tale of when they made a new student down a glass of squirrel urine. Nor will he insist that you don his collegiate hoodie whenever you note that you’re a bit cold.
For many an American jock, university is the best time of their life. For the British male, it was a time of inept romancing and excessive drinking, with some life-long friendships thrown in in for good measure. Certainly nothing to spend the rest of your life cooing over.
3. They have benefited from Richard Curtis
British men have a lot to thank Hugh Grant for. They’ve made it look cinematic for a man to have a failing business, a pervy flatmate, and a tendency to go “oops a-daisy” instead of a more rigorous swear word. Before Richard Curtis, a fop was not aspirational. Now, you’ll find that the fop is downright swoon-worthy in American circles.
4. They have impeccable table manners
Note that impeccable does not mean dainty. British men have robust appetites, but they also possess an innate charm when seated at a table with a woman that can border on regal (sorry, Taylor, but Prince Harry’s already been snapped up by Meghan). Americans are obsessed with British etiquette and dedicate entire TV shows to it.
Bill Bryson may have criticised British blokes for their lack of tipping, but at least they know to put their knife and fork together at the end of the meal and, most importantly, how to signal for more wine without shouting "Garcon!" in an American accent and clicking their fingers.
5. They don’t take themselves seriously
Irrespective of class, or economic status, British men are considered adorably ‘low-key’ by Americans with their penchant for pints and football and a tendency to self-flagellate. Take Hugh Grant (again; always Hugh Grant) in Four Weddings and a Funeral. He literally self-deprecates Andie McDowell right into bed.
See too how British men - who are historically maligned for their tendency to over-dress and under-wash - can be infinitely easier to digest than the elaborate grooming routine of teeth-whitening and manicures that is considered de rigeur in Americans.
6. They are earnest
While British men are about as likely shower you with compliments from the get-go as they are to pomade their chest hair, you know that when they tell you that they love you (possibly on the night bus) - they really mean it.
7. British men don’t talk about how much they earn
Which is just as well when you take into account Swift’s $360 million estimated fortune.
As the new relationship unfurls who knows how or if, it will end? One thing’s for sure though, it will be in a song lyric coming to your Spotify playlist soon.