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Mary Feely: Single at 50? Why George and Hugh should grow up

Oh dear. There comes a time in a man's life when "bachelor" starts to smack of "leftover".

Ever so slowly, Mr Solo & Sexy fades into Mr Solo & Sad. When?

Sometime between the ages of 40 and 50, I reckon.

Seen a picture of Hugh Grant lately? He's starting to look a bit ragged, which is only to be expected of a man who turns 50 in September.

Were Hugh to be looking ragged while pushing a baby in a buggy and holding a toddler by the hand, I'd be the first to go, "Awww..." Think of the umpteen adorable pics of Brad Pitt and his brood.

But Hugh, despite closing in fast on the half-century mark, has yet to settle down. There's no missus in sight. As for kids, well, they're on the long finger as well.

Just as I'd expect if he were 25 or 30. But at 50, it's so -- how should I put this? -- age inappropriate.

Carry on like this, Hugh, and you'll be the friend who's invited to Christmas dinner as a kindness because he has no family of his own to spend the day with.

Grant knows it. In an interview about his rapidly advancing 50th birthday, he said, "I think I might have made a sort of pact with the devil in which I think I can have fun now and sort everything later. But then he comes back and says, 'Time's up and I'm taking you to hell as you are going to be a lonely, sad old man'."

Not that Hugh's the only ageing playboy who can't move along to the next stage in life. Look at poor old George Clooney.

Not, I grant you, the words normally associated with such a handsome, successful man. But I'm starting to pity George, not fancy him.

As usual, he has a much younger, very attractive girlfriend. This time it's 30-year-old Elisabetta Canalis. Ho-hum.

Let's give George his due: like many men of 48, he's already lived through a long, committed relationship. That relationship, which lasted 18 years, was with his pet pig Max.

It all makes George seem just a teeny bit questionable. It's like when you come across a silk dress in the Christmas sales that's just way too cheap. You can't help but wonder, what's the catch?

It's not that a man needs to be married by the time he's 50. He can be in love, or living with a long-term partner, or divorced, or heartbroken. But to belong with his peers, he needs to be SOMETHING.

Even curmudgeon Simon Cowell knows this. The X Factor meanie is reportedly engaged to be married at long last. He describes girlfriend Mezhgan Hussainy as "the one" and is talking up the possibility of "little Simons" pattering about. Gulp.

Interesting that Simon should have this conversion now; he turned 50 last October. See, Hugh and George? There's hope you won't have to stay on that shelf forever.