There will be many people out there, all of them male, who will recognise this No Manual For Me approach to life. It’s one part can’t be bothered; one part manuals are for dimwits; one part half the fun is working it out by trial and error (generally a cover for impatience and/or laziness); and one part, what the hell? What’s the worst that could happen? We didn’t need to be told that Simon Cowell is the type not to read the manual because we’re familiar with all the sensible things men refuse to do – big show-off Alphas or not.
Men may be happy cooking and vacuuming, talking about their feelings and wearing moisturiser, but the list of things they won’t do, no matter what, is still pretty much set in stone. They won’t, for example:
- Hang around in a shop with breakable fancy things (they’d rather stand in the street, facing out, waiting).
- Happily sit in the back seat of a car. Obviously there will be times when there’s no alternative, but then you can feel the discomfort radiating off them; if it’s not their car they like to ride shotgun.
- Wear something in the correct size. Slightly too big is where they feel safe. The subliminal fear is being identified as Him in the too-tight trousers.
- Apply sun cream voluntarily to their heads.
- Comfortably use the word vagina in conversation.
- Admit to old school acquaintances that they were utterly miserable.
- Answer the phone, unless there are witnesses.
- Put petrol in the car at the obvious time.
- Talk sport with someone whose level of sporting appreciation is not in their league.
- Engage in hypotheticals, e.g. what do you think Carrie and Boris talk about?
- Enthuse about lentils as a meat substitute (unless vegetarian).
- Relinquish control of the barbecue.
- Get a lift with a relative stranger even if it saves them time, money and effort.
- Talk specifics about previous girlfriends/wives. (You may get some details during the three-month amnesty at the start of the relationship. After that any requests for information will be perceived as a trap. They’re not giving away anything.)
- Talk to their hairdresser/barber.
- Invite the shop assistant’s opinion.
- Get excited about plates. Glassware, on the other hand, can get them going.
- Question the butcher, if for example the butcher says this is the amount of sirloin you’ll need for six, and it looks to them like it would feed 12, and indeed it does. Same with the bloke in the hardware store. The plumber. The guy at the garage who fitted the catalytic converter lock… or did he? Cannot ask any of these men how, why so much, or what did you mean when you said “you’ll need a concrete stabiliser”.
- Swim and gossip. It’s one or the other, never both.
Is it just me…
Who has noticed the beach bod generation gap? I give you David Beckham, 45 – taut, tanned, tattooed, and very happy to show it all off in his Versace trunks. And then, representing the younger generation, Brooklyn Beckham, 21, more of an indoors type, who prefers to cover up in a box fresh white T and cap and hang out in waist deep water, taking selfies. Not long ago this would have been the other way around. Dad covered up, huffing under his hat; son stripped off and pecs sizzling in the noonday sun. How the fit tables have turned.
Is it OK to…
Wonder at the casting of Lily James as the second Mrs De Winter in the Netflix film of Rebecca? Lily James is a beauty in the gorgeous mould who has, in her time, played Natasha in War & Peace. In the book Rebecca’s successor is pretty but mousey. Her situation has resonated since it was first published precisely because she’s so far from being the glamorous society beauty her husband was previously married to. Couldn’t they have got someone a bit less luscious? Anyway. Still can’t wait. Especially for Kristin Scott Thomas’s Mrs Danvers.