HOW dim do they think we are? The Advertising Standards Authority in one of its regular po-faced, petty-minded fits of the feebles, has decreed that too many of our adverts are sexist. You know – women doing the washing up and men driving fast cars. Bad role models and all that.

Unlike the ASA most of us live in the real world where, unlike perhaps metropolitan, cosmopolitan London where so many opinion formers live, most of the shopping and most of the cleaning and almost all of any ironing, is done by women. Advertisers aren’t trying to keep us in the dark ages. They’re just reflecting life as it is for most people.

As their sole purpose is to sell us stuff, they’d be mad to get it wrong.

As it happens, in our house, washing up is mostly a boy’s job and fast driving is entirely mine. Seeing women doing the washing up on TV ads doesn’t make me want to rush for the Marigolds. Quite the opposite. Does this mean the ads have failed?

Some ads are witty and make me smile – though not necessarily buy. Most wash over me, blissfully ignored. One or two make me angry.

Anything involving mothers and babies usually gets me cross as they’re little more than emotional blackmail, preying on new mother’s vulnerability and the guilt they develop about the same time as a placenta and a craving for custard. That’s far more damaging to women that seeing them wash up.

Those John Lewis Christmas ads which are a heap of wallet-emptying mawkishness. Some people say they cry over them. Really? They just make me want to boycott John Lewis totally except their delivery service is so good and JL sheets are much better than M&S’s.

There’s a David Beckham ad for a watch at the moment. Born to Dare it says, repeatedly. Dare? One over-tattooed ex-footballer is paid a fortune to wear a ridiculously overpriced watch. What, exactly, is daring about that? A toddler could do it just as easily and probably with a nicer smile.

So yes, that ad is effective in making me never, ever want to buy one of those watches, even if I could afford the £3,000 they cost.

Meanwhile, the ASA is clearly trying to protect us from ourselves and show us a world in the way they think it should be.

But one of the most popular adverts of all time were the laughing Martians for Cadbury’s Smash. Did we believe that Mars was really inhabited by giggling tin pot tinies getting hysterical about our old-fashioned potatoes?

The ASA probably think we did.

THE BBC has been embroiled in a row about their male stars earning more than the women. More than two thirds of the top earners in the list announced this week, are men.

It’s not the gender gap that’s horrifying but the ridiculous amount some people get.

Good to know that your licence fee is paying the likes of Gary Lineker nearly £2million a year. No wonder he has to do those crisp ads to keep body and soul together.

Then John Humphrys gets over £650,000 – twice as much as fellow Today presenter Nick Robinson, and more than four times as much as colleague Sarah Montague, who doesn’t even make the £150,000 level.

Also this week the BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker is going to be the first female Doctor Who since the dawn of time.

Is this because the BBC is a right-on, politically correct, equality-minded, feminist organisation?

Or just because she’s cheaper?

IN the furore surrounding the revelation of BBC pay, I liked the tweet by presenter Charlotte Smith. “I’m happy to accept a pay rise to help the BBC solve its equality issues,” she said.

For cheek alone she should be worth another few bob a week.

HOW brave are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge? Not just to take their small children on a working holiday with them, but to actually include them in the official line up and welcome at the airport.

Frankly, I’d have just left them to the nanny to usher off inconspicuously when everyone else had cleared off. But no. The Duchess carried two- year-old Charlotte down the steps and Prince William coaxed young George who clearly didn’t want to be coaxed.

Not that he behaved badly, not at all. On a public occasion most parents would be mightily relieved by nothing more than a few kicks and a pet lip.

Because you never know with small children. They might be utterly sunny and smiley and charm the socks off every person around them. Or they might, just as easily, throw themselves down on the floor, drum their heels and burst into the sort of anguished howls that get the neighbours ringing social services – just because someone looked at them the wrong way.

No parent can ever confidently predict how it will go. So for William and Kate to put their children through a diplomatic occasion and world’s worth of front page pictures is incredibly brave.

Or just crackers.

WONDERFUL to see Jane Austen on the new £10 note, a fine commemoration of 200 years since her death.

Colin Firth in a wet shirt did her popularity no harm in recent times – even if that lake scene was completely made up for TV – but despite her high standing, she’s still underestimated, dismissed as little more than a “girly” writer, over-concerned with the pursuit of love and little else.

It takes more than girly romance to survive 200 years as a best-selling author. Jane Austen had a sharp eye and a sharp wit that is still wickedly delightful – and still comes as surprise to those who dismiss her as a prissy miss.

I still treasure my younger son’s reaction after he’d much enjoyed a performance of Pride and Prejudice last summer. “I never thought she would be that funny.”

Exactly. If you’ve never read any Jane Austen maybe, after 200 years, it’s time you did.

MIDDLETON-IN-TEESDALE is looking very flowery this summer, with lots of flowers in tubs and verges everywhere. Lifts the spirits even on a grey day.

Best of all is the display outside the church – a mini wild meadow of daisies, poppies and cornflowers. All once a common sight but now a rare treat, so even more cheering.

Middleton even smelled nice. Not many places you can that about these days.

THE Queen’s favourite song ever is said to be Abba’s Dancing Queen.

Well, it would be, really, wouldn’t it?