Wan aarr wera lud (read it again with a Yorkshire accent in your head) and you needed a new light bulb it was easy.  You went to the hardware shop and asked for a light bulb.  If the shop keeper couldn’t remember you buying one recently he might say ‘front room?’ in which case you’d want a 100 watt one, otherwise it was 40 watt, that’s what everywhere else got.

In order to buy a light bulb in the third millennium you need to do a course.  There are so many types now.  The last time I tried to buy one in a hardware shop, a good old fashioned one with a bloke in a brown coat and a bobble hat on the other side of the counter (four candles) it took 15 minutes, I kid you not.  But that’s quick compared to the hours I can be trying to buy one in a DIY superstore.  I’ve been quicker choosing new cars than light bulbs!

Another thing that makes me kick off is radio adverts that have to finish with someone turning the terms and conditions into supercalifragilisticexpialidocious


Do they think anyone listens, do they? Really?  No, it’s just a daft EU directive that no advertising agency has found a creative use for yet.  That sounds as if I am knocking advertising agencies, I’m not, I can’t, I can’t run one any more than those people that knock Catholic schools but wouldn’t dream of making themselves available to them during the day to see what teachers actually have to cram into their working day.

Other than my wife being disabused on Twitter and one little coterie of real life people not having the backbone to tackle the abusers I’m muh more easy going than even I realised.  I always thought I could give Virginia from Outside Edge a run for her money but others see me much more genial and avuncular.  Dear Reader: I am so not.

There is something that I have spoken up about that has made me rather unpopular and got me a reputation for being rather prickly. I don’t mean it to, but in defending the working mother, for whom not working is not a viable option, I seem to have offended the stay at home mothers.

This first happened when my own children were at primary school and a stay at home mother was berating another mother for being late picking her son up from nursery.  She didn’t do it to her face, we all saw this happen as she came rushing in 10 minutes after the children were let out and we were all standing chatting, she did it behind her back, almost sock puppet style, and looked for people to agree with her.

One or two did nod sheep-like, I headed over to the mum who was late, but was cut off at the pass by another, with whom she was friendly.  Our complainant started to speak loudly about how mothers of young children should not work, others nodded. “What about those who have to work?” I asked “they shouldn’t HAVE to work” she replied.  “Lovely idea, but then there’s the real world” I said.  She looked at me with distain and walked away, just like all my teenage girlfriends after one date.

The next time I saw he she spoke about the matter, she was accepting that some have to work, but she felt too many did.  My view was that in the area we were in, the vast majority of mums would have to work, and there was a good handful of mums who were single parents, working their socks off and studying to better themselves who were utter heroines, and in my view much more of a heroine than anyone who could opt to be a housewife.

Big mistake!  This was circa 1994.  Call me old fashioned but the transformation of my mums job title into a pejorative term had passed me by.  I was now a sexist because I used the term ‘housewife’.  I apologised but our stay at home mum had trouble accepting it (hello!)

No one, but no one, has ever held up the nearing 60 stale pale male who jacks in his job with a comfortable pension and takes time to help older neighbours with their gardening and Sainsbury’s run as doing something marvellous.  Some how, while a worthy productive and necessary occupation, being a stay at home mum has been put up there with Violet Szabo and Marie Curie.  Perhaps this might be because there are now so few of them but this elevation is often done in such a way as to demean the oncology nurse who is the chief bread winner or the assistant in the chemist shop who is studying pharmacology when she’s fed, bathed and read to her children at night. Single dads get a pass card, their pedestal is erected before the first packed lunch is boxed.

p>More than ever, to choose to be a stay at home mum is an immense privilege, most couples have had, and do have, to compromise to make it work.  I have friends who have made such sacrifices, no one takes doing so lightly.  But they’ve been able to make that choice, many many of us don’t, and those that have to do it alone, can do without hearing that stay at home mums deserve medals.