One of the unique joys of working in journalism is the unexpected and sometimes bizarre nature of the press releases which find themselves at our desks.
Some are bizarre (a coffin made to look like bacon), some are just mind boggling (do the readers of Creggan want to know about a political conspiracy in the deep South of America which bears no relation at all to Derry or her people?) and some do raise a giggle.
This week I received a release trying to flog magazine subscriptions which at least contained something which got us talking in the office. Listed were the top ten things which annoy men and women about their partners.
Now, without sinking my long-suffering husband too much. I did agree with the vast majority of the things which they say annoy women about their men. The survey mentions a man’s dress sense, his reluctance to do the housework and poor choices in Christmas and birthday presents.
I nodded with a certain sense of recognition. My husband, for all his insistence on a fancy suit for work, prefers to slob around unshaved in the evening and at weekends and I have had to secretly dispose of several less than desirable jumpers and tops over the years which had long since passed their use-by-date. While he does help tidy around the house, his notion of what defines clean and tidy differs somewhat from mine and he tends to view the whole housekeeping process with less urgency than I do.
We should not get into the Christmas and birthday present melarky suffice to say it either goes very well indeed, or horribly wrong. He is the man you will find scanning the empty aisles in the Tesco Garage at 5pm on Christmas Eve trying to find a present which says: “I love you, thank you for 16 happy years together and two wonderful children, oh wife of mine”.
This does not often end well. Thankfully most of the times these foibles fall under the “minor irritation” category but still I laughed in recognition with the press release.
And then it got to the woman’s section - what annoys men about their partners. Oh, no it didn’t seem so funny then or indeed accurate. So I have puffed myself up to defend the female race.
1) Takes hours to get ready: This is not actually strictly true. It takes the average mother of small children nine minutes and 23 seconds to get ready.
It may seem like two hours but this is because, while trying to wash, dress and fix her hair she is also dealing with children shouting “Mammy, I need a poo,” at the bathroom door.
She will have to locate at least one XBox remote, mid eye make-up application. She will have to encourage a child not to put make-up on themselves, while judging a trampolining competition by the toddler on mammy’s big bed.
She will also be getting the children’s bedtime sorted, making sure the house is clean enough for a babysitter not to take the dry heaves at the dirt and will probably have to change at least once following unfortunate child/snotty nose/ mammy’s best dress incident.
2) She loves shopping - too much. Yes, yes - my weekly trudge around Tesco’s for the grocery shop is a thrill - buying all those bog rolls and nappies and bottles of Calpol. Laugh, A. Minute.
3)Spends too much on a haircut: Yes, compared to men who can get “styled” for a fiver, we women do spend a bit more. But as I only seem to find the time for a decent chop two or three times a year I think it evens out.
4) Nagging over DIY jobs. I saw a great quote on Facebook recently. “Women, if your man says he will do a job around the house, he will. There is no need to remind him about it every six months”. This is my new philosophy.
5) Endless soap operas. Now, to be fair, I don’t keep up with the soaps myself but my understanding is that these programmes are so popular with my gender as they serve as a reminder that somebody somewhere has a worse life than you have. Men embrace it - the likes of Kevin Webster and Phil Mitchell make you look hot.
6) Can’t park the car. Well I can. Just as long as no-one is looking and no-one minds if it takes me 16 goes. Girl power!
7) Doesn’t like criticism of her cooking. Well who would? You go to the effort of breaking the mould and cooking something more exotic than potato waffles and fishfingers and your husband turns his nose up? Of course you will get annoyed.
8) She never notices when I’ve done the housework. Men of Derry you have to actually DO the housework before your missus notices the same.
9) She starts conversations with the words “You never listen to me”. Now I could see how this would get annoying - but men, perhaps turning off the TV and trying not to let your eyes glaze over while your girlfriend is regaling her day at work, might help just an eeny bit.
10) Four hour phone conversations to either mum or best mates: See point above. This is easily resolved by listening intently to your partner instead of the aforementioned glazing over.
It’s all simple, really.