My education, after infants school so we're talking from the age of 7 upwards, was single-sex. juniors, aged 7 to 11, were split into boys schools and girls school. In my case, the two schools were in the same building, although there was no interconnection. Even the playground was divided by a high chain-link fence. From the age of 11, we were still in separate schools only these were on completely different campuses. (Should the plural of campus be campi?) I had no sister, but two girl cousins (one of whom I hardly ever saw, the other being ignored because her brothers were much more fun) and only one girl in the street (but she, and her brother, were largely ignored as uninteresting). It wasn't until I was in the 6th form at school - aged 16 or 17 - that we were introduced to the girls in the neighbouring school, being encouraged to go to their school after hours for dancing lessons. Perhaps it was because of my very limited contact with girls that I was awkward and shy about approaching them. I have certainly felt that a mixed education would have made life very much easier when it came to going out with girls.
But just this week, a few senior educationalists have advocated single-sex education on the grounds that it allows boys to be boys and girls to be girls for longer. They claim that by keeping the genders separate, there would be less pressure on each to play up to the other.
Trouble is, I can see good points in both single-sex and mixed education.
Whether or not it stems from my sheltered upbringing I couldn't say, but I am convinced that I will never understand women. I suppose that if, at nearly 73, I haven't yet mastered the technique, there is little hope that I ever will.
But why is it that women can leave the second half of a sentence unspoken - and other women will know exactly what has not been said? by the time two or three women have been just a couple of minutes into a conversation, I have lost it completely!
And please tell me that the Old Bat is not the only woman who says "Umm" both when she means "yes" and when she means "no". It happened yesterday. I asked if she would like me to do something which I thought she might find difficult and she answered, "Umm". When I started doing it she almost screamed, "Why are you doing that?"
"Because you said, 'Umm'."
"But I meant 'No'."
I just couldn't be bothered to ask why she hadn't simply said that two-letter word. Sometimes it's easier and better not to say anything.