WHAT does a Top Gear car cleaning kit, a darts drinking game and a beer themed apron have in common?

They are all items lining the shelves in displays of Father’s Day gifts.

Add to this the many macho-sounding toiletries: Bull Dog, Brut - there is even a ‘Call of Duty tactical wash kit’ up for grabs for any fella who feels he is man enough to wear it. There’s book after book on football and rugby, DIY manuals and a raft of gym-related products.

If aliens landed in any town centre and were to judge our men by what was on sale for dads on Father’s Day, they would imagine them as beer-swilling, football crazy, iron-pumping hulks.

It’s all very puzzling. We live in a world where many see it as wrong to give dolls to girls and toy cars to boys, yet when advertisers and retailers address Father’s Day they revert back to old-fashioned male stereotypes.

Not only that, but they are aiming these products not just at men in general, but dads.

What happened to all that ‘new man’ stuff that was rammed down our throats for many years, letting us all know that men are now happy to prepare meals, change nappies and program washing machines? Aren’t 21st century men meant to be enjoying, all these things?

I know for a fact that my husband would far rather spend an afternoon walking with the kids in the Yorkshire Dales than white water rafting or screaming from zip wires. He would rather receive a wooden spoon and mixing bowl than a barbecue tool set, and he would rather go barefoot than be seen in a pair of ‘beer socks’, covered with images of pints.

Some fathers might prefer wine to beer - I’m sure a lot do - but that doesn’t fit the image companies like to portray.

And not all men like football. If my daughters were to give their dad a large framed ‘scratch off’ map of UK football stadiums - another Father’s Day gift - he would think they’d lost their minds. But a similar gift, of the country’s historic castles, would capture his attention.

Men are, as we are always being told, ‘in touch with their sensitive side’, and are not the grunting, mammoth-slaying individuals of which they have long been portrayed.

Nowadays men are just as likely to be seen taking part in The Great British Sewing Bee as they are in the audience at Top Gear.

Some fathers might love to open a ‘Dad’s Embroidery Kit’, as opposed to a socket set, on Father’s Day, but sorry lads, you’ve got no chance.

The vast array of blokeish gifts wheeled out on Father’s Day don’t send the right messages to children either. If we are trying to iron out typical behaviours, likes and dislikes, long attributed to both sexes, we are not doing very well here.

We tend not to mark Father’s Day in our house. In fact, we not big on Mother’s Day either. I’m not a great believer in these special days, which have moved from quite simple, acceptable gestures like home-made cards and flowers to highly commercial affairs.

I feel sorry for those dads who will wake up on Sunday to find a voucher for a day off-roading in a disused quarry, or a cage fighting session followed by a personal hog roast and as much ale as you can sup.

Those who genuinely don’t want such a ‘treat’ will feel obliged to go through the motions in feigning delight.

Still, they can console themselves that, once the ordeal is over, it’s a whole year until it happens again.