(Back to my lighterhearted pieces, just getting things off my chest.)
MY COLLEAGUES SOMETIMES retire to a bar (not The Bar) to continue their work (surrounding themselves with papers and briefs, files and case-studies).
I have no objection to this, a lawyer's life is a fraught one, and we need time away from the office, the landline, and the courts.
But THEY are men.
I'm supposed to be equal - I earn as much, I do as much work, and I win as many cases. BUT the other day I'd finished a case and I thought I'd have a drink while sorting out my other documents and cases.
As I entered the pub at 3.20 pm, I spied one of my colleagues (B) sitting in a booth (he acknowledged me, but he was busy and he wouldn't have expected me to sit with him).
I sat 2 booths down with my glass of Rioja. I'd been in court, so was dressed smartly in black knee-length skirt, cream top and white sweater. But that wasn't unusual. B was in a crisp grey suit and tie.
"You look like Judge Amy" was the first remark a tall middle-aged man made (yes, I've been told that before, even though I've never seen her series); "You look cool" was his second; "Want a drink?" was his inevitable third.
We've all had to deal with pricks in pubs, and we all have different ways of doing it.
"Thank you. I'm afraid I'm even busier than her".
"Doesn't she look like Judge Amy?", he said to a companion.
"Who?", said the companion.
An older man who'd looked busy initially suddenly entered the "conversation": "She looks more like Torrey DeVitto to me".
This of course started a new discussion as to who he or she was.
Now you can guess where this is going.
Well, WHERE I was going was back to the office.
By 3.40pm I was in the middle of a "conversation" involving 6 men. When I got back I told a female colleague what had happened, and she said "only 6? If I go out alone about 12 hit on me in 5 minutes"!" Then she realised how it sounded and had to backtrack with "Sorry that sounds snobby - I don't mean every man wants me".
All of that illustrates one of the biggest problems we all have to deal with: the wolves.
How come men can work for hours ANYWHERE while we have to hide away at home or in a locked office? Men say they'd be pleased if they were 'bothered' by women like we are by them. But, no, they wouldn't. If Louise Redknapp did, they'd feel flattered, but if every snivelling, elderly, drunk, smelly, sneezing woman tried to sit next to them, they'd soon leave.
And that is what it's like (not that I have to tell you). I'd love to wear a sign saying "No Thanks, No I Don't, I'm Busy", but it would only make things worse.
The point is that I rarely feel like entering a pub or restaurant alone. But if a woman wants to she should be able to. I shouldn't be restricted to coffee bars and libraries BECAUSE I'm a woman.
Or to having to sit with male friends or colleagues like a worried hanger-on.
And we shouldn't have to justify it when we tell the truth.
Men approach every woman, Perhaps they approach so-called "attractive" women more often, but that's not something the women should have to excuse.
It's the old, old crit of a girl being treated as an object or even a hole. Men aren't treated as things or plungers because we have better things to do. They're treated as people with lives and, unless they've wandered into a singles bar, as individuals worthy of making their minds up.
Well, SORRY for the deliberation and the length of this, but I'VE made my mind up. In future, if a man talks to me in a pub without being invited to, I shall report him.
Next time "PLEASE - we're talking ABOUT you, not TO you!"