“What’s It All About Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?”

I love Cilla’s interpretation of this song although, when first approached to sing “What’s it all about Alfie?” by Burt Bacharach, she replied “Alfie? It’s what you call your dog or budgie.” I think the Cavern’s former cloakroom girl would admit she got that one wrong.

Her version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was the best selling single of the Sixties by a British woman. She was a millionaire by the age of 25 when a million pounds was astounding money – and she made it in a male dominated industry.

Whilst we’re talking wonga, here’s a quiz question for you. What do Jane Austin, Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale have in common?

Not a difficult one really. They’ve all appeared on UK bank notes and are the only females to have done so.

I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that not only will you not appear on a bank note but the glass ceiling is still very much intact.

Inequality between the sexes has always puzzled me. Why should what sex you are have anything to do with how far you can go in life?

What’s worse is many men still think women have at least an equal opportunity to advance as they do. A worrying 88% of 33,000 US corporate employers surveyed to be exact. Why is this?

My theory is men don’t get why women interrupt their own their careers. I quote one boss: “We have lots of opportunities for women. They just keep leaving to have kids.”

My daughter has opted to have her children early outside marriage whilst still working. Even a generation ago this would have been unthinkable. So the barriers are dropping.

As I watched the water dripping from the forehead of my grand-daughter at her christening in Norfolk last year, I wondered what was in store for her. Wonder not worry.

With a wise head on young shoulders Charlotte wants to give her children the best years of her life and work part-time with her partner in support as they grow.

Her thinking is that by the time she’s in her early forties she’ll have done her motherly duties and launched them whilst still being young enough to enjoy life with them – and have at least 20 years doing something new. I get that.

Today many juggle careers and children at the same time often to the detriment of both. Others just give up the notion of family – and the latter is not exclusive to the female sex.

Let’s take the case of Harold Dennis “Dickie” Bird OBE. This Barnsley born retired cricket umpire and sports eccentric has no personal section on his Wikipedia entry possibly because there was no “Mrs Bird”.

Devoting his life to travelling the world for the sport he loved, he knew no woman in her right mind would put up with him being absent so much. So he parked that idea.

Dickie became successful and respected. In 1992 Michael Aspel gave him the big red book on a This Is Your Life programme at Yorkshire Television when Prime Minister John Major added his praise. But that success came at a price.

Now aged 86 and still single, he recently talked openly about how he wished he’d had children and grandchildren. But the choice was made. He lives with that loss.

Many women do the same – and to pile on the pain they’re often not recognised for their sacrifice. I’ve recently discovered the facade of one of Britain’s most revered scientific institutions is to incorporate the names of three pioneering women.

Florence Nightingale (again), Marie Curie and Alice Ball are to join the historic and male dominated frieze which greets visitors to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London.

You’ll be familiar with the first two but perhaps not Alice. At aged 23, this brilliant Afro-American girl developed an injectable oil to treat and cure leprosy, a disease which has caused suffering and killed millions painfully since biblical times.

Alice Ball

A year later she became ill during her research and died on New Year’s Eve 1916 in a bizarre accident. Unconfirmed reports suggest she inhaled chlorine gas whilst demonstrating a faulty gas mask.

Incredibly, Arthur L. Dean who was then President of the University of Hawaii published her work – with his name on it. Thankfully he was later exposed and today her brilliance is recognised. Plus there’s more good news.

Currently 27 countries across the world are led by females – and none of these countries are at war. I’ve always maintained if women were in charge, there would be no conflict.

Plus if you’re lucky enough to be a mother and the bringer of life, the very idea of war is a non-sequitur. What’s the point of giving birth to then kill it?

Today UK female MP’s are at an all time high plus in the less affected (and unelected) House of Lords only 7% were women in 1996. Today it’s 26%. So we’re getting there.

Being a successful person in life should not be about what sex you are. My Mother taught me it’s about how you treat others.

She insisted on politeness, good manners, being prompt and clean fingernails. She chose to have me over money or success. She answered the “What’s it all about” question for me. It was definitely not for the moment we live. We live for others. Sorry Alfie.

More observations from the male perspective here