“HAVE you got the train details and the theatre tickets and the dogs’ vaccination certificates?” Ian is running round the house frantically patting his pockets as if he half expects to find something relevant in them: not three rusty screws and an old boiled sweet, which is the usual haul. We’re off to London to see Ruth in Tiger Country at the Hampstead Theatre but before we catch the train we have to put the dogs in overnight kennels. “No. I thought you’d done all that,” is what I’m tempted to say but instead meekly reply: “Yes. They’re all here.”

I am by his reckoning a control freak. This is what men call women who organise things – like their lives, which would otherwise be in chaos. Three weeks ago I offered a mild, and very tentative suggestion, that a hair cut and a beard trim might be a good idea before we go to London to see Ruth. We are after all of the generation who still think a trip to London is a big deal and worth getting dressed-up for. “I was going to do that, anyway,” he says, crossly. “I do wish you wouldn’t order me to do these things. It just makes me not do them. Please don’t mention it again.” So I don’t – until five minutes before we’re due to leave. “You forgot the hairdressing thing didn’t you?” My tone is suitably muted and affectionate.

“I know. Why didn’t you remind me?” he asks, not a little crabbily. I love him but he does drive me bonkers sometimes.

The play, by Nina Raine, has been well-reviewed in the national press and several times on various Radio 4 programmes. Ruth has a leading role as a junior doctor new to the busy A&E department of a city hospital. Another character is a (female) surgeon who demands high professional standards from, among others, a young (male) doctor, chastising him when he fails to measure up. She’s taken to task by a colleague who says she is getting a reputation for arrogance.Yes, she admits, she is arrogant. But she needs to get the job done and to do that she has to behave like a man.

But of course in a man it wouldn’t be arrogance would it? It would be confidence, and professionalism, and exercising authority. So there you have it – women are arrogant, men are confident. Women are control freaks, men are good organisers. Life, as the man said, imitates art.


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