When losing is the new winning

From the first time a man and woman engaged in reasoned debate, the male of the species has wondered why, when he fairly won the argument, he feels as if he lost...

When losing is the new winning

Can a man ever truly win an argument with a woman?

It is one of the questions that has beset the human race since Darren Troglodytus, after six days hunting for food, came back to the cave and proudly showed his mate, Sharon, the bear he slew with his own two, rather hirsute hands.

“Not bear, again,” she moans.


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“But you like bear.”

“Not all winter. Wilma next door has got young mammoth.”

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“You said mammoth was tough”

“Only when they're old like the one you dragged home last cold season. I never said I didn't like baby mammoth.”

“For goodness sake. Do you want me to talk to Wilma's Fred and see if we can swap the bear for some mammoth?”

“Yes, that's right, just give away my winter furs to the neighbour. You don't love me.”

“I do. I'm just trying to make you happy.”

“By giving another woman my fur coat…”

“No… oh, I give up. I'm going down the …um… out. I'm going out.

“That's right; first you upset me, then you walk out. Typical.”

“Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?”

“Like what?”

“I found this nice shiny stone on the ground. It sparkles - look.”

“Oh, so now you think you can buy me off with a sparkly stone, do you? Nice try caveman… give it to your new girlfriend, Wilma.”

“All right, I will.”

Sharon bursts into tears and throws herself onto the straw bedding. Darren attempts to take her in his arms.

“Don't cry. I hate it when you cry.”

“Get out. And don't touch me.”

“I thought I might join the boys. We thought we'd have a bit of a kick-about with a pig's bladder. Actually it's amazing how it rolls about. If we could harness something that turns like that to a sort of platform you could use it as a carrier.”

But Darren's Eureka moment is lost as Sharon buries her face in a fleece and refuses to speak to him.

Darren senses he may have done something wrong but rightly assumes he will never actually be able to follow the logic and deduce what it is.

Out on the touchline of the pig's bladder pitch, he wonders whether he should share his confusion with his male friends but decides against it. They're having an impromptu muscle-flexing contest so Darren tautens his pecs: “Hey look at this, guys!”

Back in the cave, a sobbing Sharon cannot conceive of a time when her next move would have been to phone her mum or her best friend.

Instead, she picks up the sparkly stone and wonders if its brightness sets off the colour of her eyes.

And so to King Arthur's court, a legendary time of peace and harmony, when women wove tapestries and knights were errant in a positive way, saving damsels in distress, seeing off dragons, being pure of heart etc.

England was an harmonious place. The peasants wore nicely pressed smocks and sang paeans of praise to their lords. Arthur and his knights sat at a round table so that no one had to sit with table leg between their thighs.

“Ah, Guinevere, tomorrow, my teacher Merlin and I will be practising for the annual Paul Daniels Magic Challenge and so I won't be able to watch you threading meadow flowers into your hair. Sorry.”

“But you promised, Arthur.”

“I said I would if I could - it wasn't a promise.”

“So, being sawn in half by Merlin is more important than watching me and the ladies of the court frolic naked in the fields?”

“No. That isn't what I said. Merlin is going to turn me into a hawk and it's good to get a bird's eye view of Camelot… naked?”

“It's May; it's May, the lusty month of May.”

“Well, I might be able to come along later…”

“Don't trouble yourself. I'll ask one of those young men who work in the carpentry shop.”

“The Chippendales? We could always rehearse the magic act another time.”

“No, don't bother.”

“But I want to come and watch you with the flowers in your… er… hair.”

“Well I don't want you there. It's quite obvious you weren't at all interested until I mentioned we'll be frolicking in the nude.”

“I was; I was.”

“Too late. You blew it, Arthur.”

“Can I come to your bedchamber tonight?”

“No.”

“Tomorrow?”

“No.”

“Ever?”

“I'll think about it and let you know.”

If only Arthur had known about Google Earth.

I asked a married man of my acquaintance if he has ever actually ended up victorious after a difference of opinion with his wife and he thought about it briefly before conceding: “No… not even when I'm right.”

It seems that women, even when they acknowledge they may have been wrong, somehow make it look as if it is the man's fault.

Is it a character flaw in the weaker (huh) sex or are women practising the manipulative arts by making their men feel bad when all they have done is to contest, disagree, or make an innocent statement of fact?

Trigger phrases (responses in brackets) can include:

You're right, she is very pretty (Prettier than me?)

Are you wearing that to go out? (I look terrible, don't I?)

You snored last night (I did not)

I brought you flowers (Why?)

You look nice - going somewhere special? (I thought I'd dress up for our anniversary today)

You're so like your mother (What is that supposed to mean?)

I understand that one and one equals two (Not in binary)

Thank you for your advice about whether I should have my eyesight corrected by laser surgery or carry on with the specs.

“Stick with the glasses, Lynne,” says lovely John from Bacton who also has the distinction of being my first sponsor for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust bike ride. He also writes, encouragingly: “I imagine if you only visited the six churches in the Bacton Benefice you would have covered several miles.”

Several miles?

Meanwhile: “Stay with the specs,” advises HTC of Moulton who adds: “Most ladies who change from specs to contacts or get zapped at past a certain age always look as if there is something missing. I always think you look quite an attractive lady.”

HTC, you've made me blush.

Jane Whyman says, via email, that her husband had laser treatment and it turned out fine. Being a Derbyshire lass, she got in touch after I wrote about my few days in the Peak District in order to commend the county and reveal she has a pirate version of a Bakewell pudding recipe.

My mum hasn't reported back on the pudding I sent her through the post but if it was good, I may be after that recipe, Mrs Whyman.

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