ACCORDING to today's papers, a 29-year-old man has held his mother hostage at gunpoint on the grounds that she wouldn't do his ironing. He didn't want to do his own, apparently, because 'it's woman's work'.
Only in America, obviously. But it did set me thinking. I doubt my son will grow up into a homicidal loon with overly high domestic expectations (not least because I don't even iron his stuff now). But I wonder about the attitudes our boys absorb towards housework.
A recent survey from the Children's Society suggested most teenage kids now do hardly any chores: three quarters of 11 to 16-year-olds have apparently not loaded a washing machine, something a supervised toddler can do. It's unclear whether both sexes were equally useless or boys did less than girls, but anecdotal evidence usually suggests the latter.
I used to be adamant my son wouldn't grow up assuming domestic stuff was women's work, for the sake of any poor future daughter-in-law: my generation may have battled in vain to convince our partners the fridge isn't restocked by pixies, but we could at least bequeath housetrained sons to the next generation.
Three years on, I'm not sure I succeeded. The small boy's love of machines means for a while nothing thrilled my son more than stuffing washing in the tumbledryer, but the older he gets - and the more interesting machines he discovers - the more interest has waned.
More worryingly, with a female childminder and a mother working part time from home, it's mostly women he sees doing domesticated things. I won't be doing his ironing when he's in his 20s. But I'm a bit worried his poor girlfriend might.