Saturday, May 20, 2006


IT'S THE ultimate cliché to write a column about the battle of the sexes. I mean every female who has ever put pen to paper has at one stage knocked out a quick couple of hundred words on how and why women are so much more superior to their male counterparts.

It pains me to go over old ground. It makes me question whether or not I'm providing a decent level of service to my readers but there are some times, and ladies we all know what I'm talking about here, when all a woman can do is grip her head in her hands and sigh.
We all know the old adage. Men, can't live with 'em. Can't kill 'em. Much as I love my husband deeply, sometimes I genuinely feel as though I have not one, but two sons to look after. The second of my sons just happens to be 34, with a decent smattering of chest hair and an addiction to computer games and a couple of cans of lager on a Saturday night.
The wee man is no trouble in comparison. I can tell him what to do and generally with a bit of a foot stomp and the odd tantrum he will eventually realise that mammy rules the roost and he bows to my God given right to be the boss of him.
Himself (the big one) is a little harder to handle. He knows he doesn't have to agree to my every demand. He is aware that he is, in theory, a grown up but that doesn't change his need to have me there making sure everything around him runs as smoothly as possible.
I may well work full time. I may well have the lion share of the responsibility for making sure our two year survives another day without meeting some grisly end involving a mouldy yoghurt and a Bob the Builder friction vehicle. I may spent my evenings in a semi-comatose state loading and unloading the washing machine, setting out the clothes for the morning for the Messiest Toddler in History (Copyright, Joseph: 2006) and making sure we don't catch Bubonic Plague from the mildew in the shower- but apparently, and I didn't know this when I got married, none of these count as a excuse for not making sure himself has a clean, dry shirt for work the next day.
(Before I continue, I'm not saying himself turns into some wife battering maniac if the shirts aren't clean- he will happily wear one that stinks and show me up in front of the rest of Derry. I may be a modern woman of the noughties, but I'll not be shamed by anyone leaving my house in clothes reeking of body odour- no sirree!)
I'm sure some of you are wondering if my husband is okay with me revealing his inadequacies in the highest selling newspaper in the Derry area. The thing is, he is fine with it. He knows it is true- just as he knows deep down that he is not the only man with a woman behind him making sure his shirts are clean, he has new, sensible shoes and that his diet includes something a touch more nutritious than sausage sandwiches.

Home truths
Get any group of women together and the stories will start flooding out, and trust me, there are a few common themes here. I'm not one to tar people with the same brush, in the words of the wonderful Jane Austen it is a truth universally acknowledged that:
A) Men, great explorers of the world, responsible for discovering new lands and widening our horizons to new cultures and experiences, cannot 'discover' the car keys that are two feet away from them.
Instead they will phone their wives or partners or (being Derry) their mammies and ask them where their lost treasure might be. Their looking involves a cursory glance in the direction of the sky or somewhere equally as useful before giving up and looking for help from their more sensible halves.
B) Men, responsible for running the country, and planning military battles- cannot remember that when taking a child under the age of two out for the day you might want to bring some nappies.
Oh, he'll remember his cigarettes, his mobile, his money, his golf clubs (just in case they pass a golf course) but nappies and wipes? Are you mad?
C) Men, icons of fashion who crave to look like David Beckham and covet Armani suits- cannot dress children for love nor money. Let your other half free to dress a child and he or she will end up looking like a poster child for the NSPCC.
D) Men- proud of being handy, of having logical and technical minds and who can wire a plug quicker than saying "Job's a good 'un"- cannot bring themselves to show off any of these skills in their own home. Hands up who has a wonky lightswitch or dodgy washing machine?
E) Men- business geniuses, responsible for the financial management of multi-million pound businesses- have no concept that the £30 in the bank has to last until pay-day and no, it's not just there for the purpose of buying the latest Playstation game- especially when there are no nappies in the house and your child has a dodgy tummy.
Now, as I've said, I love my husband. And my father. And my brother. Indeed I have a certain degree of affection for most of the men in my acquaintance but please, for the love of God please, don't try to tell me that they are the superior sex because, as I see it, the facts more than speak for themselves.

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