There’s one rule for one…

Sian Massey
Sian Massey

“ARE these your briefs, Pauline?” a male colleague shouted across the office.

“Keep your hands off my briefs, fnarr, fnarr,” I replied, realising he was referring to two short stories – known in journalistic parlance as “briefs” or “NIBs”, standing for “news in brief” – that I had written for the following day’s Courier.

So, given the Andy Gray expose, are we all now to mind our Ps and Qs to the extent that any office banter, pub tittle-tattle or factory blasphemy may render us liable to public condemnation and possibly the sack?

Soon, no one will be able to say anything to anyone without someone taking offence. One step away from the thought police, we are.

Not that I’m sticking up for Andy Gray or Richard Keys, for whom the sky is no longer the limit. But we all say and do things “off camera” that would embarrass us if they were broadcast to the wider world.

After Bigotgate, starring Gordon Brown as a hapless Prime Minister seeking to alienate as many voters as possible, we had Linogate, where former professional footballer Gray and his chum Keys dissed the female population as having no understanding of the off-side rule.

But is female assistant referee Sian Massey the exception that proves the offside rule? Not really.

I conducted a quick straw poll around the office (it’s like a Graham Poll but doesn’t give out three yellow cards to one player in one game.

Yes, even the best male officials sometimes make mistakes). About half the women I quizzed did understand the offside rule and proceeded to explain it.

One football-hating female said it wasn’t that she didn’t understand it; just that she didn’t WANT to understand it.

But contrary to the Gray and Keys view of football, it isn’t just (some) women who don’t comprehend its intricacies.

Can you imagine the look of horror and drama on the face of Louie Spence if he was asked to explain the offside rule?

BBC and ITV journalists loved the fall-out, of course. But how many glasshouse windows have they cracked in their time and escaped unscathed because their microphones were switched off?

Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone.

And on the subject of religion, it seems that while Gray and Keys are in hot water for sexism, big guns in the Church of England old boys’ club can take their orb and sceptre home in a row over women becoming bishops.

Several Anglican bishops have already defected to Rome because they don’t like the thought of their clergymen having to serve under a woman (fnarr, fnarr, again).

To be fair, they may be sexist but at least they’re not hypocrites – they make their dislike of females infiltrating their masculine world really quite obvious.