Belfast Telegraph

My chagrin checklist for gender offenders

By Frances Burscough

A survey has been circulating on the internet this week. The Top Ten Things That Men Find Most Annoying About Women. Ok, I agree, It’s not very high-brow nor is it intellectually illuminating, but it caught my attention and offered a bit of light relief from all the bad news of the day.

It was all very predictable stuff (if you’re a sexist sod, that is) like “Taking too long to get ready”, “Fishing for compliments and being needy”, “Wearing too much mascara so your eyelashes look like tarantulas” and “wearing fake nails which suddenly start to ‘ping’ off at the slightest touch, making your living room look like a scene from Silence of the Lambs”.

Unfortunately there wasn’t an equivalent survey for women to air their petty grievances to the opposition, so I decided it was only right and fair to chip into the debate with my own top things that annoy me about men. Sure, it’d be rude not to ...

1. Loose Change  Unlike we women, who carry purses on our person and therefore keep all our small change in one place, men seem to accumulate it for no apparent reason in every sartorial orifice or available receptacle*. So trouser legs jingle annoyingly as they walk, jackets fall off hangers to the floor like their lined with lead, their car dashboards resemble a penny slot machine and every room in their house has a saucer, ashtray or jam jar overflowing with coins. I have a theory that if every man used all his small change instead of hoarding it, the national debt could be paid off in a single day.

2. Stubble Trouble If there’s a man in the house then it’s likely that they’ll leave a tell-tale trail of facial hair whenever they use the bathroom*. Men on the whole tend not to bother washing the sink after they’ve used it, so the following sequence of events takes place. They brush their teeth and leave blobs of toothpaste everywhere; then they shave and/or trim their beards thus adding shaving foam or gel to the mix; then they rinse their razors and faces thus scattering their five o’clock shadow clippings on top of it so it sticks like glitter to glue on a Christmas card ... er ... except that it doesn’t fill you with a sense of seasonal cheer when you see it.

3. Pan-demic When men decide they’re going to cook, you might as well book a domestic cleaning service for the following day because when a man cooks he makes damn sure he uses every pot, pan and implement you possess in the process*. That food processor you haven’t used for ten years gets involved, too, along with all the blades, spatulas and chopping attachments — even if he’s just making an omelette. He’ll use one knife for one thing, another for another until your knife block is empty and all your work surfaces are piled high with cutlery and utensils hidden under a thick layer of potato peelings, onion skins and egg shells. Then after five hours of being banished from the kitchen, you are finally allowed back in to do the washing up.

4. Selective Aptitude Why is it that modern man seems to know instinctively how to install a PC, set up broadband connection or surround-sound speakers, how to programme a GPS navigation system in a car and how to connect an HDMI cable to an HD TV, yet they are utterly perplexed by a front-loading washing machine and “don’t know how to use” an iron?*

5 Road Rage Never offer to drive a man anywhere, because no matter how proficient a driver you are, you will by default be doing it wrong. He’ll tell you you’re in the wrong gear because you’ve not switched to fifth gear ten seconds after setting off. He’ll remind you of the speed limit every few miles and “suggest” you change lanes and/or overtake vehicles every few minutes. He’ll complain that you don’t use a sat-nav but will refuse to ask directions of anyone if you get lost. And last but not least, he’ll insist on switching from your favourite driving CD to TalkSport or crackling cricket coverage on an AM channel that sounds like it’s being broadcast from Timbuktu.*

* Unless he’s gay

This week I’ll ...

... mostly be preparing for my annual night sleeping al fresco. Every year, the RSPB runs an event that encourages the nation to sleep under the stars to discover more about wildlife at night. While you’re tucked up in bed, the natural world outside comes alive as nocturnal creatures go about their lives under cover of darkness, but most of us never see any of it. So now’s your chance. This year’s Big Wild Sleepout takes place over the weekend of July 29-31. You can either camp out in your garden or pitch a tent at one of the RSPB’s reserves. organise a campfire, a sing-song or even a midnight feast. Sounds like it could be fun — weather permitting, of course! Go to for more information.

There ain’t nothing like a (tattooed) Dame

Maximum respect to Dame Judy Dench, who celebrated her 81st birthday last week by getting herself inked up. Yes, the ever-youthful octogenarian got the Latin phrase ‘carpe diem’ — seize the day — tattooed onto her wrist after her daughter Finty suggested it as a birthday present.

But Dame Judy is just the latest in a long line of cool older women who have finally embraced the trend. Susan Sarandon, the fabulous holywood actress celebrated her 60th birthday by getting her first tattoo — the initials of her three children, on her spine. Also, Helen Mirren, who’s just turned 70, revealed a design of interlocking arrows on her left hand which she explained was a symbol representing tolerance. Fortunately that was done just after she played Her Majesty the Queen in the stage play and before she had her hair dyed pink just for a dare.

They’re all  woman after my own heart. When I turned 40 I marked the occasion by getting my nose pierced, much to the horror of more traditional friends and family members. As Dylan Thomas once said, “Do not go gentle into that goodnight ... ” He knew like we do that growing old disgracefully is far more fun.

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