Three men and I are struggling with a key. Our foe, a crescent door on a Tudor house, will not budge. “Bloody hell,” grumbles Gearóid. “You’d think I’d have the knack by now. Can any of you do it?” I try and fail to twist the lock, focusing all of my mighty red-meat energy on the task, cogent of my ancestors, vikings, their steaming muscles and easy hands, how they’d kick the door down and pillage a tabby cat. This doesn’t help. I’m thinking about the door more than opening the door. In my violent fantasies, we rush the building together; actually, we crash through the window. I have been in the manosphere for five minutes. “Oh, to heck with it,” Gearóid says, “we’ll go through the garage.” This seems off brand. Today I’m supposed to learn about the strength of men, their noble genes and sheer unassailable need to win, and we’ve been bested by a keyhole.
At least the ride here was relaxing – half an hour from Withington, a premier Manchester suburb, to Stretford, home to a mall that looks as if it was designed by a dentist; then dicking around with falafel till the next bus, which took me to Flixton, one of those sleepy places that could fall off the map if it didn’t shake itself awake with village fetes and teen pregnancies. Lovely, really: a wad of green and gold, bunting in a pub garden, storybook cows up to Church Road, hardly somewhere you’d expect a revolution. Swap the R for a D if you like. It won’t make a difference. Regression is progress to those who believe society took a turn for the worse when women received typewriters.