GEORGE Clooney's decision to sell his lakefront Italian villa is like the death of a close friend, men said last night.
Since Clooney bought Villa Oleandra, on the shores of Lake Como in 2002, millions of men around the world have taken comfort from the idea that at least one of them had got life exactly right.
Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: "There was no jealousy, just a quiet satisfaction that one intrepid adventurer had ascended to the mountaintop and gazed upon the promised land, without being a total dick about it.
"There's never really been anything to compare it to. The closest anyone has got would have been our grandfathers imagining what it would have been like to be friends with David Niven."
Asking to be left alone for a while, Professor Brubaker added: "George Clooney and that house meant everything to me. What am I supposed to do now? Would someone please explain what the fuck I'm supposed to do now?"
Martin Bishop, a man from Hatfield, said: "When other stars were taking drugs and generally treating everyone like shit, George was sitting on his terrace watching the sun slip behind the Italian Alps while pouring a glass of something rather nice for a magnificently beautiful woman.
"And that would be at the end of a day spent planning a funny, intelligent film and scooting around the lake in his vintage motor boat, slugging a few Peronis and exchanging wisecracks with Brad Pitt and Matt Damon."
He added: "These paparazzi are men too. Someone has to tell them what's at stake. If George cannot live, all men will die. You know… on the inside."
Tom Logan, a man from Finsbury Park, said: "When I squeeze myself onto the Northern Line on a cold, wet February morning and spend 35 minutes being drenched in the post-breakfast flatulence of strangers I would drift off and think of George buzzing round the lakeside on his Harley, stopping off for an espresso and making easy small talk with the locals. I would think of the house. The beautiful, beautiful house.
"And now they're saying it's going to be owned by David Beckham. The whiny-voiced beelzebub. The beast with multiple endorsements.