Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track. She writes a column for Cycling Weekly each week
When I want to meet up with a friend I’ll text them and say, “Want to go get Thai food tonight?”
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When I want to meet up with my mother I’ll text her and say, “Want to cook me dinner tonight?” And she continually puts up with it — it’s outrageous.
I remember one such night when my dad (who didn’t live with us) had used this same meet-up method (“Shall we do dinner tonight?” meaning, “I’m coming round at 7pm for you to feed me”) and brought his godson.
Once they had arrived and sat nibbling cashews at the table in the kitchen, my mother, herself standing at the hob, sweat on her brow, the kindly host, had told some story about her day at work. It was a boring story.
The godson chuckled. “This is the difference between men and women,” he said. I think I was about 13 years old; would I already have been rolling my eyes? I can’t remember.
He continued: “Women will fill silence with anything. I have an easy criteria for if I’ll say something: it has to be either relevant, interesting or humorous. If it’s none of these three it isn’t worth saying.”
I was silent. My mum, somehow, laughed it off.
It bugs me that he tied up his conversational rule in sexism, and that he wasn’t able to cross-reference other social rules (don’t laugh in the face of the person handling your food) when telling it, because it’s a sound checklist.
Also — do I even have to say this — it obviously has nothing tying it to gender. I apply it when I can and think about it often. Mainly on my mind when making chat at the chaingang — you can’t apply it too stringently when there are three hours to pass.
Since the encounter I have made a two-fold amendment, however: that the rule can be broken by my mother at any time while she’s cooking dinner; and that you’ll shut up and be grateful you’re getting fed.