You all know my love of spurious research, and the presentation of conclusions where the evidence doesn’t really support them. So let’s welcome Professor Gina Rippon of Aston University. This is a well regarded institution, so she’s likely very intelligent. But, boy oh boy, can she be dumb.

She’s written a book, The Gendered Brain. In it she makes this point. ‘The issue of map reading, which is a kind of manifestation of spatial skill, is actually supposedly one where there’s (sic) really robust differences.’ Then she blows the whole thing apart. This is apparently because boys are exposed early on to ‘technical’ toys, such as Lego.

Whoa, wait up Tonto. You’re making some vast assumptions here. I’ve explained before my reluctance to use anecdotal case studies to disagree, but bear with me.

As a child, I never ever had a Lego set. Nor did my siblings. We had a Bayko set, and we all played with it. My brother is good with a map, my sisters are both rubbish. I’m good with a map*. I honed my skills in the army cadets, and they stood me in good stead when I took up rally navigating in my teens. I recollect Susan watching me plotting a route and saying, ‘You’re very meticulous.’

‘It makes the difference between getting home in one piece, and us upside down on the roof in a ditch, dying.’

No Lego in sight, yet I was still good. Very good. I was in demand.

Meanwhile, my wife as was, was really good with a map too, and she never had Lego or ‘technical toys.’ She had the ability, which is genuinely uncommon in women, to be able to read a map while going south without turning the map upside down. You cannot comprehend how bloody irritating the upside-down-map thing is to the average male, but Alison completely nailed the concept that if you’re heading south, the right turn you need is actually on the left of the map. She never got us lost if she was navigating and I was driving. I trusted her implicitly, as she trusted me if I navigated as she was driving, and believe me I had to stay on my toes to keep up with her breakneck pace on deserted roads.

I’m not buying the Lego theory at all, not for a minute.

*Apart from at Chester Zoo, but as Susan will tell you, the map there is crap