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Garrick Vote: You Poor Men

07/07/2015 10:43 BST | Updated 06/07/2016 10:59 BST

Dear Member of a Gentlemen's Club,

Can I help?

I am so sorry to hear about your trouble with women. I have read and heard a great deal about the problem of sharing a club with us. What agony for you. If it is any comfort, the feeling is not reciprocated.

You have been explaining in interviews that the need somewhere to relax alone, a sanctuary for intelligent conversation without all the sexual complications that happen when the genders mix.

Women certainly are everywhere these days, aren't we? In the City, running businesses, leading Government departments, in entertainment, representing the country at football, partners in law and accountancy firm. It never ends. Honestly, you'd think we were half the population.

And then when you get home, there we are again!

How are you coping? I hate to think of you so tense and fretful, what with all those legal judgements to deliver, plays to put on, offices of state to run and broadcasting; amusingly, often with us and affecting our interests.

But you can relax. It is truly quite amazing just how much we have in common, besides chromosones, that is. Women actually, and this will make you laugh, have careers and thoughts. No, seriously.

You are too polite to ask what they are, of course. But the other thing we have is opinions and a wide interest in current affairs. Sport, politics and so on.

We love humour, too, and art, science, rugby. We can be fascinating about solving the country's problems, an area where you are always generous with your own insights.

So you can see my struggle from where I am in the 21st Century to get a good view of your position in the Nineteenth. I have certainly experienced it, believe me. I was once sent to a separate entrance for lunch at the men only Paris Jockey Club.

Is it about wanting to be called 'sir' by a servant ? Or to eat nursery food at a long table (just like the ones at school) surrounded by oil paintings of people to whom you are not related?

Let me just say how it looks from my side of the gender divide, that one you still seem so keen to keep in place.

Two words might be 'offensive' and 'absurd'; others might be 'rude 'and 'demeaning'. But even if you disagree, I wonder what you think belonging to a club that excludes women says about you?

After all, we are not talking about a men's locker room. Of course, I cannot answer that specifically because we never meet (You would need to invite me, probably on the first Wednesday after Lent through the side entrance, down that alleyway and up a clearly marked Special Staircase for Women). But nothing very good, I fear.

Here is what I think it says: You suffer from snobbery and latent misogyny, which you are guilty and guileful enough to try and disguise by implying a bluff, even charming, eccentricity of purpose.

It seems a waste of time to put energy into a rational argument to counter your irrational position. But perhaps now that at least we are all talking about your strange habit, things might change.

In the meantime, what the rest of us can do is stop treating your club as exclusive, but instead as ridiculous.