Think about those long, long hours spent hanging around in the playground when the children are little. We stand with the same group of women, comparing notes. The children themselves, with no concept of any other way of doing things, become friends with the person they are sitting next to on a regular basis. That youngster is eventually invited to tea, which means the mums become friends. Play dates lead to birthday parties. Then there are sports clubs and dance classes, shared lifts; and so the network expands. At work, too, women will get together for a quick drink to celebrate a colleague’s birthday, which leads to hen nights and sometimes even spa breaks and weekends away.
Men don’t do this. They greet each with a gruff ‘Y’alright?’ or, if they’re feeling particularly effusive, ‘Hello, mate. How’s tricks?’ Not that they really want to know, of course. Ask a woman how she is and she will tell you – sometimes in more detail than you might like. Ask a man and he’ll say ‘Fine,’ even if his wife has left him, he’s lost his job and someone has stolen his car.
Sometimes, when the golf course is busy my other half and his regular golf partner will have to team up with another pair to make up a four-ball. This means they have to talk to someone they don’t know - but assuming they can overcome that, there is a good chance that the next few hours will be spent amiably enough.
He’ll come home and, if pressed, say, ‘Yeah, they were good blokes. Played well.’ I’ll ask,’ Did you get their numbers, in case Paul can’t make it any time?’ He’ll look at me as though I’ve asked if he took the strangers for a fumble in a bunker. ‘No, of course not.’
I despair. Is he too old, do you think, for me to set him up on a few play dates?