Men of the future, we're told, will be "sad, lonely, isolated cases". For once, I'm in advance of the trend
There's been some research into men and depression, which I'll get on to in a moment. However, one of the many causes of my own depression is that I read about all this crappy research, and watch TV documentaries about it, and I believe it all.
Do you remember that alarm a couple of years ago about hormones in drinking water? Oestrogen from somewhere or other had got into the water system, and I remember a photograph of a hermaphroditic alligator, which was an unpleasant sight. Some expert then appeared to say that's the way all men would look in 50 years. Or was it five years?
I've attempted to keep track of myself and I must admit that it does look a bit like that from certain angles. But then, as Hemingway said while attempting to reassure Fitzgerald about penis size, it looks smaller when you're looking down at it. Or perhaps Hemingway was trying to cheer himself up. I'm talking about men, of course. For women, to look down on their genitalia is very different, and, in my view, much more interesting. (Remember the Steve Martin joke: "If I was a woman, I wouldn't be able to go to work. I'd just sit at home all day stroking my breasts.")
Then there was the documentary about global warming which said that the result would not be, as previously thought, Britain getting the climate of Provence. Quite the contrary. Britain ought to be much colder, but at the moment it is protected by the warmth of the Gulf Stream. Global warming will divert the Gulf Stream and Britain will have winters like Murmansk, if we're not hit by a meteorite first.
It will be worse for men. Everything will be worse for men. The Economic and Social Research Council has just published a report called Britain Towards 2010. The main finding is that millions more people will be choosing to live alone and that it will be good for women and disastrous for men.
Research has shown that single women really do behave in the way that single women behave in TV commercials. They sit in groups at tables on pavements in Soho and throw back their heads in laughter. They go shopping together. They go to the gym, where they exercise without making a guttural ape-like yell each time they lift a weight, the way that men do. When they've a problem, they talk about it to a friend and find some way of dealing with it.
By contrast, men will be more like the wino you see on a park bench with his trousers tied up with string clutching a can of Heineken at 11 in the morning. Actually, that comparison isn't entirely fair to the wino. Winos generally seem sociable and hang around in public spaces in cheery groups.
The author of the report, Professor Richard Scase, said that the single men of the 21st century in Britain will be "sad, isolated, lonely cases". Cue lots of newspaper stories with headlines such as "Men Behaving Sadly". The report pictures these men of the future spending their leisure time sitting alone at home, eating a curry and drinking beer while watching a video.
Leisure time? For once, I seem to be in advance of the trend. I try to avoid drinking beer in the day, but apart from that, this description of the 21st-century sad bastard sounds like a reasonable description of my working life during the nineties.
There was more bad news in a report that was announced recently in a medical journal. "They" have discovered that bed rest is counter-productive. Whatever you're suffering from - flu, cold, anything you can think of - is only made worse by a day in bed being given hot drinks by your mother or wife.
Doctors have discovered that you need to get up and pull yourself together. As it happens, this makes no difference to me because this has already been the de facto policy in my own household, due to my own life-partner's belief that men are a tribe of cowardly, spineless, lying malingerers who don't know what real pain is.
In fact, one area of scientific research I am keenly following is a project to enable men to become pregnant. When this is achieved, I'll be at the head of the queue. I am going to get pregnant, go through the whole nine months, give birth, and as I lie there in the delivery room with the new baby I've given birth to, the first thing I'll say to the mother who will have been present to lend moral support will be: "You were wrong. Toothache was worse."