Tag Archives: men v women

Companion Piece


The pair were so alike, yet so different.

The Queen stormed regally up and down the chessboard, cutting down anything that stood in her way, knowing that if she fell the battle was all but lost. The King was pathetic, scuttling fearfully in a tiny square area like a mime artist trapped in an invisible box.

The rest of their army were little better.

The knights staggered in random directions, filled with wine, wearing a suit twice their weight and carrying a sword the length of their leg. The bishops veered off to the left or right in search of natives to convert, usually painfully.

The rooks kept to the outer edges of the battle. The Queen would sometimes swap places with one, just to see if she could find out what they actually did.

Then there were the poor pawns. The Queen had more respect for them than for all the rest. In peacetime she would visit them at their workplaces and ask “and what do you do?” and try to be genuinely interested in the answer. She felt it was the least they deserved, because she knew that in wartime they would be sent to the front.

Sometimes one of them would make a break for it and actually start a battle, as the other side would think that it was the beginning of a charge, but most of them would line up stoically and resignedly, a shield for their supposed betters.

If the King got into trouble he simply surrendered, and to the Queen’s horror the battle would then be considered lost. She’d have fought on ferociously forever, an ivory Joan of Arc standing side by side with her brave pawns, urging them forward so that one of them might take her place if she fell.

She was supposed to be his companion, but she knew she was so much more.

The King was in charge in name, but the Queen was in charge in fact.

Like most households.


Word Count 332. This was written for the Trifecta Writing Challenge, to the prompt “Companion”.

Dress Sense

An article in yesterday’s Metro, the freebie paper handed out at bus tops and railway stations all over Dublin (they’d have it at Metro stops too, except we don’t have any) revealed that men take thirteen minutes to get dressed to go out, whereas women take only ten. The following may explain why ….

Woman: “I’m going to get changed now .”

Man (watching football on TV) “Ok, love.” (Total length of conversation: 3 seconds).

Woman goes upstairs (30 seconds, though that’s a guess, since I live in a bungalow), takes off the clothes that she is wearing (30 seconds), takes from the wardrobe the dress that she decided on five days earlier (5 seconds) and slips it on over her head (5 seconds). Tries to reach behind her back to zip herself up (45 seconds), considers calling Man, but hears roar from downstairs (“Jesus, ref, penalty!”) and decides not to bother . Resumes her struggle with the zip, which she finally manages to get up (4 minutes). Does that thing where she inches the lower half of her dress down towards her knees by tugging at various parts of it, as if she was putting a pillow-case on a pillow (3 minutes). Looks at all parts of herself in the mirror via a series of contortions that Houdini would be proud of (20 seconds) and walks back downstairs (30 seconds).

Woman: “How do I look?”

Man (not taking eyes from football): “Great, love.” (Total length of conversation: 2 seconds).

A variation on the last two sentences (Woman: “Does my bum look big in this?” Man: “No“) also takes two seconds, either way bringing the total to ten minutes.

Act two then begins…

Woman: “It’s your turn now.”

Man (still watching football): “Ok, love.” (Continues to watch football).

Woman: “NOW.”

Man (sighing): “What do you want me to wear?”

Woman: “Whatever you like.” (Total length of conversation: 15 seconds).

Man goes upstairs (50 seconds, because he’s walking backwards, still trying to watch the football), takes off the clothes that he is wearing (30 seconds) and roots around in his wardrobe for something to wear (2 minutes). Puts on his favourite rugby shirt and a pair of jeans (30 seconds). Runs back downstairs (5 seconds) to catch the end of the football, which has now been replaced by Grey’s Anatomy.

Woman: “Is that what you’re wearing?”

Man: “Yes.” (Total length of conversation: 2 seconds).

Woman: “Welllll …..” (Total length of the word “well”: 8 seconds).

Man: “You said I could wear what I like.”

Woman: “Yes, but not that.”

Man: “What, then?”

Woman: “Wear your blue shirt. And the tie my mother gave you for Christmas. And those grey trousers. Actually, no, wear your pin-striped suit.”

Man (sarcastically): “Would you like me to wear a top-hat?”

Woman (deaf-to-sarcastically): “Of course not, dear. You don‘t own a top-hat.” (Total time since the word “well”, 50 seconds).

Man goes back upstairs (70 seconds, because he’s trudging), stares in astonishment (for 30 seconds) at the blue shirt, the tie he got for Christmas and the pin-striped suit, all of which are somehow laid out on the bed, although at no time has Woman passed him on the stairs. Takes off rugby shirt and jeans (30 seconds) and dons his appointed wardrobe (5 minutes, because he has to have four goes at getting his tie right, since occasions like this are the only times he wears one). Walks back downstairs (30 seconds).

Woman: “You look lovely, dear.”(2 seconds) Straightens his tie and brushes something invisible off his suit. (8 seconds).

Total time: 13 minutes.

On the bright side, Man did get to choose his own socks, though he mysteriously couldn‘t find his Bart Simpson ones.

And if you’ve checked the additions above, you’ll find that the woman’s time is ten seconds short.

That’s the 10 seconds she spent hiding them.

Ice Maidens

When I was a teenage boy I was terrified of teenage girls.

Whenever I was in close proximity to one (or, more likely, a group, they congregated in covens) I could feel my face grow uglier, my spots grow bigger, my clothes grow uncooler. If one of them spoke to me I would mumble some reply, normally making fun of myself, in a semi-broken voice that would change pitch by two octaves in mid-sentence, making me sound like a hyena crossed with a donkey. All of us boys knew that we were shapeless lumps of shambling idiocy, whilst the girls our age were beautiful visions of cool sophistication.

When I got older, of course, I realised that this wasn’t true, that the girls were just as terrified and unsure of themselves as we were. The only difference is that while we were hiding behind a mask of shoving each other, playing air guitar and farting as loudly as possible, the girls were hiding behind a mask of liberally applied make-up and cold disdain.

How much easier our teen years would have been if each gender had realised this about the other.

Anyway, why drag these old (very old, unfortunately, when I was last a teenage boy Capricorn One was in the cinema and Yes Sir I Can Boogie was in the charts, and I realise sadly that most of you will have heard of neither) humiliations out into the public domain? Well, Tingirl (14 next month) had a friend stay over last night. When I got up this morning they were in the sitting room watching TV. As I walked through two heads turned toward me in perfect unison, stared at me expressionlessly for about one second, then turned in unison back to the TV. And for that one second I once again felt stripped to my soul, dismissed and two feet tall, all at the same time.

I pity the teenage boys of our town.

Girls, Girls, Girls

Though the numbers involved are hardly large enough to be a meaningful sample, I think you will all agree that I have slightly more female readers than male.

The curious thing is that this mirrors the real world, where I have more friends who are women than men. In the aforementioned real world this may be because I have the face of Adonis and the body of a Chippendale, though this argument is rather weakened by the fact that I actually have the face of a Doris and the body of a chipmunk.

Whatever. For some I reason I get on well with girls, especially all the young ones I work with now. Perhaps they regard me as too old to be a threat. But the fact is that I’ve always preferred working with girls, either in paid employment or in the part-social, part-charitable organisation I was heavily involved with in my 20s (in which I first met Mrs Tin). They are hard-working, dependable and great fun.

Here in Ireland the treatment of women is still not perfect – you are still not paid as well, still aren’t represented highly enough at the top of politics or business, and can still be subject to domestic violence and abuse. But we are so lucky compared to other cultures, where women are still second-class citizens, denied education and rights, or subjected to mutilations.

In a world where racism is becoming more and more unacceptable, the precept behind sexism – that 50 per cent of the population is inferior to the other 50 per cent from birth – is so obviously wrong  that it would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.

Days like International Womens’ Day, which is today, will not change the world overnight. But the fact that it has been a fixture on the calendar for many years now is at least a start.

I’m not quite sure what’s happened to this post – it set out to be light-hearted, and somewhere along the way became more serious  than my usual fluff (that’s men for you, we lose concentration easily).

Anyway, Happy International Womens’ Day to you all.

Have to Have It

There is a well known TV ad in which an attractive girl walks past a young man who, upon catching a whiff of her Impulse perfume, rushes off, buys flowers and presents them to her. The tag line then is “men just can’t help acting on Impulse”.

The whole ad is of course a wild flight of fiction, and not just because it features a man voluntarily buying flowers. Everyone knows that it is not men who buy stuff on impulse. The guys in our office go to the shop at lunchtime and come back five minutes later with a sandwich and a packet of crisps. The girls come back forty minutes later with a bagel, a salad, two tops, a pair of shoes, a magazine and a gigantic bar of chocolate.

So how do I explain the fact that on Friday – the first warm, sunny lunchtime of the year so far – I went for a short walk and came back with this?


It’s a spork. It’s part spoon, part fork, and the serrated edge on one of the tines means it’s also, less successfully, part knife. I was walking past a Camping Shop and the word caught my eye. The first time I ever heard of them was in the film “Snakes On A Plane”, where Sam L is looking for some knives to fight against the snakes, but discovers instead that the kitchen (or whatever it’s called on a plane) has only sporks.

Anyway, I saw it, I bought it, I brought it home. I showed it individually to each member of my family, they laughed, we reminisced about the film, how we enjoyed it thoroughly but would never watch it again.

At some stage I’ll try eating a meal with it, and we’ll all get another laugh out of that. Then it will sit forever in the kitchen drawer where we keep a whole load of weird looking utensils that make it look as if we’re running a gynaecology clinic from the comfort of our own home.

All that fun for just €2.95. Totally worth it.