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A woman-hater writes…

Last Friday, my Independent column was about our great age of nannying  – in politics, on TV, in life – and how it seemed to be drawing to a close. I opened the piece by drawing a comparison between Mary Portas, the BBC’s bossyboots shop expert, and Harriet Harman.

One contributor to the Independent’s message-board said that it was regrettable that once again the writer’s intense dislike of women had surfaced.

That was a shock. I hadn’t thought the piece was about gender at all. Furthermore, I have always been rather proud of my inner woman. My adult novels are tougher on men  than women. The majority of my children’s books have heroines rather than heroes.

Amused by the idea that I am a closet misogynist, I mentioned it to someone who, I assumed, would enjoy the joke – the woman with whom I live.

‘Perhaps you are,’ she said.

She mentioned people who have a talent for irritating me: Harriet, Mary, Margaret Hodge – anyone who uses the humourless, nanny-knows-best tone that has become fashionable in the last few years.

This was unfair. What about Jeremy Clarkson? Gordon Ramsey? Stephen Fry? Ed Miliband? Hilary Benn?

But, even as I mentioned these names, a terrible realisation began to dawn. Annoying as each of them is, none caused the intestinal lurch of rage that I experience when being patronised – and, it seems to me, scolded – by a small number of powerful, confident women.

‘Maybe you should be asking where all that stuff is coming from,’ said the woman with whom I share my life.

For the briefest moment, she sounded just like Harriet Harman.