I was on a boat the other day and it was raining.  As is often the case nothing much was happening so we got to talking about this and that.  Somehow the question of balls arose. I can’t remember how we got there, maybe one of the chaps was trying to show his credentials as they sometimes do  when there’s only one woman on board, but anyway,  balls it was.  I once wrote a play called Balls, I told them.  It was terrifically successful if you count the number of  men in raincoats sitting at the back.  Indeed it was successful anyway because it ran for three weeks with full houses.  The reason there were  men so attired was nothingto do with the weather.  It was possibly because of the title and also because the reviews mentioned full frontal nudity, as it was called in those days.   Sadly for most of them it was a naked fellow who featured.  The reason I wrote the play, apart from the fact that it was commissioned, was to subvert a few of the gender stereotypes prevalent in those far-off days.  I say in  far-off days but it seems they’re not so distant.  I was in a toy shop the other day, looking for a birthday present for a four year old and was swiftly conducted by the young man running the shop to a wall of  glittering bangles and beads until I mentioned that she’d asked for some more brio rail track. What reminds me of all this is that  The World of Books is similarly limping along in an olden days mind set.  ‘Ditch the sexist book covers’ headlined a short piece in the Daily Telegraph the other day.  Dame Jacqueline Wilson was pointing out that  pink covers are pigeonholing girls and putting off boys.  Even books with gritty themes are made ‘sugary’ with ‘feminine’ covers when written by a woman author.  She’s not alone in this view.  Amanda Hocking also says that serious subjects written by women are too often given ‘girly chicklit’ covers with glib titles when those penned by men are not.  I’m humbly aware of all this myself as my own series was blighted at birth by ridiculous frilly-looking covers.  I wonder why publishers and sales directors do this?  What era are they living in?  It will be interesting to see what difference ebooks will make.  Final question though, how many thousand years will it take to tame the testosterone-effect and civilise the human race?

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