OK, I admit it. I’m an unreconstructed man. A dying breed for sure but we still exist. I’m a relic from a time gone by. But hear me out.
I have mastered many of the skills expected of a man. I am great at opening doors, allowing the lady to enter first, doffing my cap and offering my seat, even to women who don’t sport those Baby On Board badges. I walk on that part of the pavement nearest the road to prevent splashes from the passing traffic from spoiling my companion’s dress, even though it is from Primark and my strides are from Boss, leaving my sword hand free to defend her honour – the streets around Blogger Towers are teeming with sword-wielding chaps looking for a duel.
I have been known to turn my hand in the kitchen, once I had discovered it five years after moving in. I am never happier than when washing up and drying the crocks – we have a dishwasher but there is something intensely satisfying about plunging your hands into brackish water containing the flotsam of a meal. Now I have more time, as well as soapsuds, on my hands I have reintroduced myself to the therapeutic joys of chopping up vegetables, peeling and scraping and, ultimately, mashing potatoes. What joy!
I am a dab hand at making teas and coffees and pouring out our evening caps of wine and gin. I was even corralled into doing a spot of decorating, a project I seem to have nodded through whilst preoccupied in reading my newspaper. It never crossed my mind that removing a 6 inch strip of wallpaper from the living and dining rooms would consume eight days of my life and subject me to the mindless idiocies of 96.4 Eagle, a radio station I never want to hear again the rest of my life. The experience reinforced my long-held belief that it is the duty of every man to sustain that endangered sub-sector, the professional tradesman.
But there are certain domestic tasks which are a mystery to me. I have never understood the need to move piles of dust from A to B temporarily via a vacuum cleaner. Indeed, I was only finally convinced that the delights of domestic bliss were for me when the strata of dust in my bachelor pad started to imperil my breathing. Nor the need to clean windows – isn’t that what we have rain for? The washing machine and tumble dryer are terrae incognitae on my particular domestic map.
And it is laundry which has convinced me that the logic of men and women are so fundamentally different that it is a wonder that we co-exist in any sort of harmony. I like to put on a clean shirt on each morning. Returning from the bathroom I blearily reach into the cupboard – a combination of the inevitable hangover and without my glasses having the optical powers that would shame a bat means that is all I can do. Inevitably, my reach is unerringly attracted to the most recently laundered shirt. Almost inevitably, this prompts the retort some time during the day, “Why are you wearing that? I have only just washed it”. To which the male response is “Well, you should have put it at the bottom of the pile”.
It is hard being an unreconstructed male.