Pull up a chair, old boy, and light a pipe while I pour us a couple of fingers of the Famous Grouse. This is a cause for celebration. Rumour has it that at long last, after years of prevarication and buck-passing, the Government is to appoint a Minister for Men.
Our first task, of course, is to prioritise our agenda. What, we must ask, do men want?
Top of the list, I think you will agree, is sexual harassment in the office. There’s nothing like enough of it. Some chaps can go for months, years even, without experiencing so much as a suggestively arched eyebrow, let alone a sexist remark ending in those two little words we long to hear – “big boy”. That is bad enough. But, believe it or not, there are untold thousands of men whose entire lifetimes pass without their bottoms ever being pinched.
Next, and it’s not a lot to ask, is the institution of male-friendly pubs. Places where you can lean against the bar and talk man to man in surroundings free from the smell of quiche and coffee and stripped of embellishments such as carpets, curtains and ashtrays. A good first step would be the restoration of the corrugated iron urinal. When at closing time the outside karzies ring once more to a sound not unlike monsoon rains hitting a tin roof, it will be the tocsin of freedom you hear.
It is important to instil the right ideas early on. Small boys should be told that there is no shame in wanting to be an engine driver or a hair stylist. Let them learn, too, that there is nothing wrong with expressing their emotions. If Wayne hits you in the eye with a plastic space rocket, by all means feel free to let him have it in the giblets with an Early Learning natural wood object.
As a young man grows up, he will notice that it is an unfair world into which he has been cast. Early exposure to TV commercials will accustom him to the notion that, compared with all females, he is stupid, ignorant, and incompetent. It will be the task of the new minister to correct that impression by issuing a leaflet.
The young male will be quick to observe that whereas girls play boys’ games – football, cricket, rugby – boys do not play girls’ games. Also that whereas girls wear boy’s clothes – trousers, suits, shirts, and big boots – boys do not wear girls’ clothes unless they have a particular point to make. Admittedly some progress has been made. It is now common for boys to bleach their hair blond and wear rings in their ears. But, as yet, the panty girdle seems a hopelessly remote goal. Immediately upon her appointment the Minister should call in all the editors of men’s magazines and urge them to take corrective action of some sort.
The sharp-eyed, intelligent and alert, ie female, reader will have picked up the use of the feminine pronoun in the previous paragraph. This is not a politically correct observance but rather a statement of the obvious. The new Minister for Men should be a woman. Experience tells us that when it comes to telling us what to do, women are far better than men. When Tessa Jowell, for instance, shows us by example how to wash our hands, we sit up and take notice. But when Michael Meacher tells us we can still take holidays in foot-and-mouth-beset rural England provided we do not step out of our hotels, we deem him an idiot. And we deem right.
But who is to be the woman that will champion men? None other than Carole Stone, who is described by the Daily Mail as a “glittering society hostess who rose from a council estate to run the most desired salon in London”.
Author of a new book, Networking: The Art of Making Friends, Ms Stone is an astonishing survivor. For were she to be discovered on the floor of her glittering salon, a knife sticking out from between her shoulder blades, the police would be obliged to round up no fewer than 14,000 suspects, each with a powerful motive.
In her guide to being the perfect hostess, she describes how she sets about separating couples. “I take one partner to one group and one partner to another and introduce them with a helpful one-liner: ‘This is Patsy. I think her children go to the same school as yours.'”
“I clap my hands early on in the party and say: ‘Welcome, I’m so glad you could all come. I’d love to think that you’ve all made a new friend while you are here.'”
At this point, it is only centuries of brainwashing and subjugation that prevents the full-blooded male from leaping for
ward and strangling Ms Stone with the straps of her own evening dress.
An assassin, however, would do better to bide his time. She is said to have 14,000 friends, and there is safety in numbers.
But who better than a superfluous woman to restore manly pride and vigour, to help us rekindle the martial spirit, to rise from oppression, and cast off the shackles of new-mandom? Only then shall we be free to open doors for ladies and give up our seats to them on the Tube.