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Have I told you lately that I miss you, pal? No, we're men

Have you spoken to X recently?' my wife asked me the other day.

Now, for the hard-of-thinking, I should point out that I don't actually have any friends who are simply known as 'X', but you know what I mean. The 'X' in question is an old mate.

We've been knocking around together for the best part of 20 years, getting into scrapes, having each other's back and always being there with the 'magic ton', the same 100 quid that has been doing the rounds between our group of friends for as long as I can remember.

In fact, when we first got to know each other, the magic ton was merely a magic 20, but that's inflation for ye, I suppose.

As it turned out, we hadn't spoken in the last few months. Not because of any new frostiness in the friendship. Certainly not.

It's just... well, it just never occurred to me to ring him to see how he is, and presumably he felt the same.

When we have something to talk about, or a gig to meet up for, then we'll talk like we had seen each other the day before, even if it will probably have been six months.

So I have to admit that I laughed when I saw the new 'groundbreaking' study which says that men and women maintain their friendships in different ways.

Women, we're told, are happy to natter on the phone for hours on end, while men tend to use the phone only to set up an actual meeting.

The problem, of course, with such reductive surveys is that they are always easily rebutted by the one exception who proves the rule.

While I have some friends I don't see from one end of the year to the next, I also know one lad who would waste two hours on the phone talking about his long overdue desire to get a new dog.

But inevitable exceptions apart, the survey does expose certain differences between the sexes; differences which are meant to be either unfashionable or simply non-existent.

These differences do not denote superiority of one gender over the other. They're simply examples of how the male and female brains tend to work on slightly different levels.

It also shows, I think, that men are more likely to compartmentalise their life in a way that women don't.

So, when my wife wondered how X was getting on, I just shrugged and muttered something along the lines of 'well, he'd get in touch if anything bad had happened'.

Does that mean men are callous? Or does it simply mean that we don't care about our friends, or maintaining friendships the way women do?

Either way, I'll be seeing X at a gig soon - we'll ask each other how are things, and we'll both say 'grand'.

And that's good enough for both of us.

Indo Review