Now before I plough into the tribulations of shopping with a man, it is not shopping in the supermarket, nor in the B&Qs of this world. No, it is shopping for clothes for yourself.
Let me first deal with man’s role in the supermarket. There, just as he drives the family car, he is in charge of the trolley, though not the navigator. That is in the hands of the spouse or partner. It is she who selects the direction of travel, when to stop and what to buy.
In the DIY store he may come into his own at the nail and hammer aisles though he is relegated to trolley duties among the plants.
Now you are thinking how stereotypical. How non-2018. But there you go. Observe for yourself. But at least there is a role for him. Not so when it comes to woman buying clothes. In fact, and this should be on tablets of stone for the male species, “Do Not Go Clothes Shopping with Woman”. Full stop.
You see what happens to the male who is dragged along. Yes, he still has trolley duty but he blocks the way as other shoppers try to pass him especially if it is a sale and there is a prize purchase in sight. He is always standing in the wrong place.
At changing rooms he sits forlornly with other men as a stream of women pass by him with armfuls of clothes. He does not speak. He only occasionally looks up. Apologetically.
Then there are the men who foolishly try to advise on possible purchases. Out shopping with one of my sisters, we overheard a man denying his girlfriend (it was definitely early days in their pairing) a pair of shoes she obviously lusted after. They were very high heeled and not the least practical, expensive and dead glamorous but he insisted they move on. We both knew he would pay for that intervention for months if not years. It might even have been the death knell of the relationship.
Then there was the man, slap bang in the middle of the John Lewis clothes sale telling his partner, and the world at large, that on no account was she to browse at the sale rails. Silly man. He’ll regret that.
Fatal too is to respond to the question “does my bum look big in this ?” with honesty. If the man says “yes” then he is telling her she has a bum to worry about. Always a bad idea. If he says “no” she will dispute it because asking the question means she already has doubts.
It is better to bounce the question back or better still not to be there at all. Her best pal can get away with the truth one way or the other, but not you.
You see, while man goes into shop for shirt, grabs shirt, pays then leaves, woman, with all the hunter-gatherer genes in her DNA is only doing what her long-gone predecessors did. He went out, killed deer, carried it to the cave. Bought underpants, put in drawer. She went out and foraged for nuts and seeds, now she forages on clothes rails for bargains. Here endeth the lesson.
Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale