In Spain, the battle of the sexes is over – and the women have won hands-down.
That’s the only conclusion I can draw from a recent discovery that shook me to the very core.
Spain was always the land of the matador and football superstars, but all that is consigned to the dustbin of history now.
I have been working for the last week as a volunteer at the pilgrim office in Santiago de Compostela, and it was at Santiago station that I came to this earth-shattering conclusion.
There, in the gents toilet, I found the ultimate symbol of male subjugation – a baby’s change table!
Now call me old-fashioned (and you will) but I was brought up to believe that men and women were designed biologically and physically for different roles. Women were designed to be nurturers and carers, while men were the providers, who went out and hunted woolly mammoths to be ceremonially cooked.
In my case, my barbecuing skills have been complimented in several quarters, but my ability with the dirty nappy brought only hoots of derision.
While raising two children I was convinced that my genes had not programmed me for the task.
In my experience, there are only two outcomes to changing a baby.
1) The contents of the nappy are solid. This involves much gagging, with some of the contents being transferred to your clean shirt. This later treats your work colleagues to a delightful new deodorant variety - eau de bebe.
2) The contents are liquid. The wearer kicks with delight, resulting in the transfer of the contents to your clean shirt. The results at work are the same.
In the modern world, we men are apparently expected to pull off both sets of skills with equal aplomb.
It was not just a one-off either. In the interests of research, I checked in the station at Pontevedra and there was one of these horrors, too.
When I quizzed the stationmaster, he simply muttered something about EU regulations – the standard reply when anything bizarre happens in Europe.
Has the world finally gone mad? Or am I simply an un-PC old dinosaur? Or, as a member of the Grumpy Old Men fan club, should I have an opinion, anyway?
Answers on a postcard to The Editor.
I am happy to report that testosterone is not quite dead yet.
Last Saturday, saw the third of the four annual bullfights in the annual Peregrina festival.
And, I was invited to join one of the many penas (supporters clubs) during their preliminaries.
Love it or loathe it, bullfighting is still part of the Spanish way of life. There wasn’t a spot unoccupied in the 7000-seat stadium.
The penas are basically clubs of aficionados, who get together to drink and make as much noise as possible. Two hours before the start, our pena, a collection of middle-aged male professionals, met at a bar, where products of its official sponsor, Spain’s largest gin company, were sampled before being transferred to a huge tank.
The tank was then ridden around town by one of the city´s top lawyers while his mates played tunes and sang. In the ring, we took our specially reserved seats for the spectacle.
Sadly, it was not a great fighting night, but maximum fun was had by all. There is a saying here - No noise, no life.
Well, there’s still plenty of life left in the Spanish males on a Saturday night, judging by the volume.