Here we go again with confusion over gender roles and behavioural patterns.
On Friday afternoon, a female colleague decided that reveal to all and sundry on the floor some of the most basic differences between men and women: lists are one.
Apparently, men make lists. Women don't.
Hang on a moment – I'm always making lists. For starters, every Saturday morning, I sit in bed with a cup of Earl Gray and make at least one list. I cannot shop without lists. I know there's a theory that you should go to market and see what's there and then decide what you're going to cook, but then I'd get into a complete fluff over what to actually prepare, and I'd also be bound to forget some crucial ingredient or other.
But I also find lists helpful for organising such things as packing for trips away. And, of course, at Christmas they're absolutely essential on so many levels, from gift buying to menus to general chores. Indeed, in her new book, Delia's Happy Christmas, the patron saint of home cooks emphasises the value of making lists. So I'm in good company.
The colleague in question pointed out that what she really meant was that men like making lists to catalogue things or of sporting stats.
But is there really much of a difference? Both are to do with organising – neither variety are absolutely essential to the continuation of life.
Not that my colleague was ready to stop at lists. Collections are, apparently, another difference between males and females.
The former collect things. The latter do not.
At this point, someone interjected with the question of female collections of handbags and shoes. This was easily passed off as being 'acquisitiveness', not 'collecting'.
I finally chipped in, noting that I have collected things since childhood and have a number of collections. This was passed over with a comment that, "in general", women do not collect.
Well, much as it's nice not to be considered to be a "general" sort of example of the species, it's also just plain dumb.
How many women collect ornaments? How many women collect soft toys? Who are all those collections of china plates, thimbles and silver spoons aimed at? Because men are certainly not the prime target buyers.
What an oddity that, we we gain more and more actual, legal equality, some women seem more determined than ever to find differences between the sexes and to create ideas of specific gender behaviours and interests.
Anyway, it's been a successful day. We went down to Hoxton to a very good, independent wine merchant (who also sells cigars and teas and coffees). So that's the booze (including an absinthe set with glasses and proper slotted spoons) and the coffee and the cigars bought for Christmas. Since the festive chocolate arrived from France a couple of days ago, that's two things I can tick off the list.
Anyone who comes up with such nonsense could be mistaken for being a bit Brahms and list.