I have long held the suspicion that I am not fully woman. My make-up basket consists of two lipsticks, a jar of Vaseline and a pair of illuminating tweezers, lately donated by a concerned friend. I would far sooner browse manure blends at our local aggregates depot than try on diamonds at Asprey. My secret giddy pleasure is removing the lavatory cistern and watching the ballcock rise and fall and any fashion catalogues that make it to the vicarage are employed to wedge the truncated marital mattress in place along with two four-packs of Heinz Beans.
A survey has now confirmed my fear. The sisterhood, it reveals, spends £13,000 in a lifetime on beauty products in order to feel better about itself. Plucked eyebrows, a manicure, perfectly styled hair and new underwear are among the twenty favourite methods to promote self love, according to the Ready to Glow campaign. And hairless legs are essential.
With dismay I realise that my life lacks all of these. It's been eighteen months since I visited a hairdresser. Those reproachful tweezers are a daily reminder of my spring growth and the haul of thermals, purchased from a London market during my first week of work twenty years ago, still sustains me through Sunday Mass in winter.
For a moment I am discouraged. Then it dawns on me. It's not me that is deficient; it's that list. No wonder stress and depression are on the rise when women have got their priorities so wrong. And so I'm going to share with you here five top feel-good factors guaranteed to bestow a sense of feminine fulfilment. And the great thing is you no longer need to shave your legs!
Limescale warfare: that moment when, after months of ineffectual scrubbing with your husband's tooth brush and a flood of own-brand chemicals, you vanquish the black crusts round the bathroom taps. The secret? A tub of citric acid unearthed from my handbag when I was searching for a mint in the Sunday service.
Verbal warfare: that moment when a perfectly-honed, perfectly-aimed riposte silences your unreasonable tweenager/partner/parking warden.
Bake-off: not only do you find you possess all the necessary ingredients to make an impulsive cake; not only do you remember to turn the oven on; not only do you remember not to turn the oven off ten minutes into the baking process because you've forgotten you had anything in there; not only do you fail to burn or sink or desiccate said cake in the excitement of Gardener's Question Time, but the end result is deemed respectable enough to be fed to an archdeacon.
Technical victory: you finally succeed, without help from the husband, in finding the off button for the new radio/prising off the cap of the petrol tank/dislodging the crammed Hoover bag/ unfurling that recalcitrant bargain brolly from Primark.
Affirmation: Your usually uncomplimentary children lisp: 'I love you' and, given the £10 Amazon voucher you've just handed them, you know they really mean it.
Now, come share the wisdom: what things make you feel good about yourself?