The Offside Rule

Being the father of four daughters I am usually loathed to make stereotypical comments but it seems to me that some generally held views are difficult to deny. I like to think that I have had a positive influence upon my girls and am comforted that they enjoy some of the music that has become important to me. I too have had my eyes opened, or should that be my ears, to music that they have discovered. I still insist on a Dad's right to mispronounce the names of younger bands ever so slightly. When it comes to football, however, I have failed miserably in getting them to appreciate the beauty of our national sport. I spent many hours, during their younger years, explaining the offside rule at the dining table. Ask any of the four girls and they will tell you that it is when there isn't a pepper pot between the ketchup bottle and the vinegar at the moment when sprout is passed (as long as it isn’t interfering with the dinner). No matter, they are just not interested and even when they try to comply with my requests for family involvement in viewing an important England match, they never sound convincing. 'Those blue shirts don’t go with that players eyes', or 'Why have they taken the good looking one off and replaced him with an ugly player'. It is all too much and I am left retreating to another room to watch the game with just John Motson's voice for company. I have to face up to the difference between me, as the only male in the house, and my wife and daughters. There are those who, in an attempt to win equality for the sexes, perhaps confuse being equal with being the same. My wife and I have brought our girls up to soar in all that they want to achieve. For us equality is a minimum standard that our society should expect. Having said that, I am totally convinced that women and men see the world in different ways. The whole nature verses nurture debate is redundant in one sentence; both are true. This was never more evident to me than an occasion a number of years ago when we were at a family event where all the cousins were present. Both boys and girls were united in the common games of 'tick' and 'fill your plate with more food than you can eat'. I had taken with me a small electronic box with flashing lights and interesting noises for our kids to play with.One by one each child came to look at this new toy. Each of the girls carefully picked up the item gave it a looking over and placed it back down carefully on the table. The boys had a different method of exploring. Each one ran to the table as if about to trip and smash their heads on the corner. Picking up the game the shook it, bit it and bashed it on to the highly varnished surface. The girls looked and were mildly interested the boys wanted to know how it worked when you shook it, what it tasted like and would it break. On this occasion one of the young nieces gathered all the other children together and suggested with wide, excited eyes, 'Let's go and piss the cat off'. There was a gasp as the adults looked at each other in horror. The shocked silence was broken when the crowd of youngsters ran towards the cat making Pssssssssssssss noises. Most of us laughed. One or two, who were still eating at the time, splutted half chewed food over the others. Once we had given an old Aunt the Heimlich manoeuvre and wiped mushroom vol-au-vent off our posh clothes we continued to chuckle at such a happening.When the young girls had finished chasing the cat they went back to dancing the locomotion whilst the young lads flew imaginary planes. All the children, however, were united in stamping every crisp and peanut they could find into the carpet. It seems that everyone is equal but some are more able to appreciate football more than others.

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