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Don't witter about it, just do it;Opinion

I HAVE finally worked out what is odd about me. It seems I spend 16 per cent more of my time on relationships than most men. This fascinating statistic comes from a survey of British telephone habits. The average man, so it seems, uses that percentage of his Telecom time to discuss sport whereas I have never talked about sport to anyone - except, possibly, Georgie Cookson, our games master, who in 1969 accused me of being a girlie because I'd asked to be excused rugby on the grounds that I might get hurt.

Released from this strange male compulsion to discuss what other men do with their balls I am presumably free to devote an extra 16 per cent of my dialling time to what women discuss most on the telephone which is relationships.

And yet, so we are told, even women spend at least 2 per cent of their BT time talking about sport. All of which has left me with two questions (1) what gender do I actually belong to and (2) what does the average woman find to say about sport?

Physical exercise, as far as I can see, is for doing, not for discussing. Any attempt to impose an intellectual superstructure on hitting and kicking things is pure pretentiousness. The three main sensual pleasures - sex, food and soccer - are participatory events and I can only assume that anyone who resorts to reading about them simply isn't getting enough. All of which means that the entire back section of most newspapers is a total waste of rainforest. Not to mention both halves of The Sun.

And yet women, who traditionally only concerned themselves with the front bit of British papers, are catching up, or so we are told. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine (which I take mainly for its excellent knitting patterns) the only reason girls lag behind boys in athletic prowess is that women spent the 19th century labouring under the myth that they constituted a weaker sex.

No longer denied access to ball-kicking and bat-whacking activities, the girls will shortly be just as good at sport as us men, and, presumably, they'll be spending 16 per cent of their time talking about it too. All of which leaves me in despair. Soon I am going to be totally out of step with both genders. What epithets would Mr Cookson find for me now?

Opinion 17 TESJapril 23 1999 Estelle Morris: "We are open to practical suggestions on how we get the balance right" 'Appraisal is an essential part of any modern management system'

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