Melanie Morris: We don't care about the off-side rule... unless it involves shopping

Melanie Morris

"What do women know about the offside rule?" asked Andy Gray, in between snorting expletives and getting the red card for his "unacceptable and offensive behaviour".

The answer? Well, as far as I'm concerned, about as much as I need to, which, until recently, was basically nothing at all.

The same goes for a lot of other things in life. Like how to change a tyre, which wire is 'earth' and how to play craps in a casino.

I could learn all of these things, and possibly attend to them simultaneously in my miraculous, female-specific, multi-task way, but I just can't be bothered as long as there's more enjoyable stuff to do. Like watch Downton Abbey, or buy clothes.

I live in a house with dodgy plumbing and useless underfloor heating. It's so rubbish that myself and Sean the Boilerman are on close terms. So close that I know about his concern for his daughter's job as a podium dancer in Time; and how he fell in love with his wife all over again, after 25 years of marriage.


Only thing is, in between his cigarettes and cups of milky coffee, Sean keeps trying to tell me what he's doing to my pipes (ooh, vicar!), and why the heating is acting up.

I don't want to know. I have no interest. I'd rather just pay him and have it fixed.

Ditto the dentist. Unless she's giving me a free handbag with my next crown, I couldn't give a hoot what's involved before I have to part with a king's ransom.

It's not pathetic, and it doesn't mean that I'm blonde (although, I am). I have a much faster and more accurate grasp of maths than my peers, and I've a photographic memory, so I don't need to learn how to use an Excel spreadsheet.

I just can't be bothered to get my head around stuff I find irrelevant. And the offside rule is one such thing.

Nor do I want to be 'one of the lads'. Forgive me for saying this, but I'm not an emancipated feminist. I like to be treated differently. I appreciate good manners and men who practise them.

If that makes my gender different to theirs, so be it.

Even more shocking, I don't mind if blokes have a bit of a nudge and a joke about women in their own company. Boys, after all, will be boys. And don't they realise we're doing the same thing to them?

What I appreciate, though, and see as common to all women, is that if I want to understand the offside rule, I can.

And I now do, thanks to my fiance Trevor's smart sister Tammy. Because when the subject came up over dinner one night, and the assembled group of guys started moving salt cellars and spoons around the table in a long-winded explanation, she simply called halt.


"I can explain the offside rule in a way any woman can understand," she shrugged ... and did.

"You have to imagine you are in a boutique with your boyfriend." So far, so good, but what does this have to do with football?

"Wait. It's busy and you [who, if this were football, would be the striker], spot a gorgeous dress at the same time as another girl [the defender], who's loitering close by.

"You grab the dress, head to pay, but you are 'offside'.

"Your boyfriend has your handbag with your money. (Your bag, in this case is the football.)

"The other girl is trying to prevent you from getting to the till, and you can't buy the darn dress until your man, who is dawdling behind, gets his shuffle on and, hurrah! gives you your handbag.

"Now, you're 'onside', you can pass that bitch, get up to the till and... Goal!"

See? Once you speak our language, we understand completely.