Hugh silly old goat!

Twenty years ago, we'd have laughed with him. Now we're laughing at him. AS Hugh Grant (47) cavorts with students half his age, why can't he learn to grow up?

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Published: Sat 13 Oct 2007, 10:57 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:44 AM

HE IS, of course, no stranger to self-inflicted embarrassment (who could forget Divine Brown?). Nevertheless, Hugh Grant must be feeling exceptionally foolish this week. Pictures of him at a student party in St Andrews - shared via the internet and now a global sensation - make him look an utter idiot.

There is Grant, an international movie star, his face flushed red by alcohol, being mobbed by a gaggle of female students. It's not a pretty sight. In one picture, his mouth hangs open and his eyes are unfocused; in another, he appears to be closing in on second year student Caroline Hargreaves.

It is nothing new that Grant likes to pick up random women for no-strings flings - some even said that was a reason why his romance with Elizabeth Hurley came to an end.

There have been reports of him trying out his rather well-worn chatup lines. Only last week, he was snapped coming out of Boujis nightclub with three glossy young things, piling into a taxi before heading off into the night.

However, Grant is generally discreet enough to avoid this sort of public brouhaha. Perhaps he was caught off-guard this week by the power of Facebook, where the pictures were first posted.

The actor had played in the Dunhill Links Golf Championship with various other celebrities, including Bill Murray and Ronan Keating. Hugh has a fairly impressive six handicap and is 'obsessed' by his golf, so the tournament was too good to miss.

On Saturday night, he and some of the players and caddies decided to go to the fancy bar Ma Bells for a drink.

Once inside, Grant was apparently completely overrun by female students, and it seems he rather forgot that nowadays every one of them has a mobile phone, which can take pictures.

The problem for Grant is that this behaviour is starting to look more creepy than charming. Now that he is 47, he is seriously out of kilter with his peers. Liz Hurley is married with a five-year-old son and is trying for a baby with husband Arun Nayar. She was Grant's best friend - but their friendship seems to have cooled as they have less and less in common.

So what is stopping Hugh from acting his age?

The simple truth is that he does not seem to have tired of the thrill of the chase. Kasia Komorowicz, who had a six-year fling with the actor, said that he charmed her after they met by chance in a nightclub.

As a 'boyfriend', she says, he was totally unreliable. She says she felt 'badly treated by him at the end' and that he was 'big on promises that he failed to keep'.

But as we now know, there was one woman with the beauty, fame and wealth to make Grant sit up and take her seriously.

For a while, it seemed that billionaire's daughter Jemima Khan was the one woman likely to convince Grant to marry. But though the couple went as far as informally announcing their engagement last year, the affair petered out

Now, having separated from Jemima in February, it appears that Grant has reverted to his old ways. But the story is actually a little more complicated than that.

Associates of Jemima say that, even up to last week, he was still calling her and asking to get back together, telling her how much he loved her and missed her company.

They separated in the first place because, in Jemima's view, he had failed to step up to the plate as a life partner. When they holidayed together, he preferred to read a book or talk about golf than make conversation with her. There was also, say Jemima's camp, a reluctance to go to society and charity functions with her.

Indeed there is a sense that Hugh Grant - unlike Jemima - has had enough of the limelight.

Late last year, he sacked his agents at the mighty CAA in Los Angeles and began a retreat from public life..

It's an extraordinary state of affairs for the man who is certainly Britain's most successful modern movie actor, but Grant appears to have fallen entirely out of love with films and filmmaking. He said: 'My feeling is that there are two kinds of going away.

'One is where you decline in a rather undignified way, with a series of worse and worse films, and people say: "Oh, he's really hit rock bottom." I would hate that. I'm too vain for that. On the other hand, if you just give up when you're doing all right, I think that has some dignity.'

Now that he is not working, and not officially dating Jemima Khan, he is generally left in peace to live what he calls the 'life of a London Slacker' - exactly, in fact, like his character in the hit film About A Boy, in which he played a wealthy single man with a horror of emotional involvement. It is a joyously bachelor existence. He likes watching telly and enjoys having takeaways alone on his knee at night. He loves sports cars and bought himself an £82,000 Audi R8 supercar for his 47th birthday last month.

Golf is a commanding passion and Grant plays 'almost daily and almost obsessively. If you ask him what he does all day, he says that he plays golf.

This year, he has also been trying to finish writing a novel - another solitary pursuit ideally suited to bachelor life.

'I've been trying to write that book for 20 years, literally. I'm now on page 26,' he said earlier this year.

'It's slow. It's not strictly speaking an autobiography. I've taken myself and I've extrapolated all my worst characteristics and created this kind of monster.'

And it seems that, despite his own happy childhood, he has never longed to create a family of his own.

'I don't particularly like babies,' he told an interviewer. 'I don't mind them for about four minutes. That's my max. After that, I can't quite see what everyone's fussing about.'

So Grant remains a happy bachelor - golfing, playing pool, and slacking - while Miss Khan wonders if their problems will ever be resolved.

Maybe after this latest embarrassing liaison with a gaggle of pretty undergraduates, she will feel that enough is enough.

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