I recently got a call from a friend of mine who is an interiors journalist. "Taffeta [not her real name] is pregnant," he hissed, "and we can't find a pram that's not hideous." His call was not unusual. My male friends cannot believe the state of the pram world and how hideous 99 per cent of prams are.
Keen-eyed readers will know that the New Statesman covered stylish prams for dads a few years ago, when the Bugaboo and Xplory were the cool dad's pram of choice. But now that the Bugaboo has been renamed the Chavaboo in certain circles, and is even the subject of a Harry Enfield sketch, it is no longer the trendiest pram. (Pity, as it's a good pram and I've got one, but luckily I am impervious to what's in and what's out.) The Xplory scores points on looking freakily different (and is also a great pram), but let's face it, it's not the sort of thing that sits well next to your Charles Eames rocker.
Because I have my finger on the very pulse of life itself, I was able to tell him that Mamas & Papas (the only nursery label to acknowledge the dad) has something called the man pram up its sleeve. There is no date as to when this pram will actually appear (if it does at all; it's very much a "what if" pram, looking at what a pram could be like in years to come). So it is purely a dream at the moment, existing only in the world of computer-aided design.
I have taken this description straight off the drool list of features: it will incorporate repackaged, recycled materials of old pushchairs; it will be powered by a proton exchange membrane fuel cell, which utilises energy from electrochemical reactions of hydrogen and oxygen. It will have gyroscopic sensor control turning (lean to turn); an adjustable flexible handle that will be mouldable and adjustable for different dad heights. And biometric fingerprint recognition (no keys - yes, pushchairs don't normally have keys, but this baby will need the security: see later).
It will have parking proximity sensors and a dad's display screen that will have a media centre with touch screen and built-in organiser, satnav/GPS tracking system, a music system, web browser, wifi and baby vision monitor (no need to actually look at the little monster, clearly); and an RFID reader to pick up local information on shops, parking, toilets, changing facilities, and so on. The baby also gets lots of features, such as photochromism to turn its bubble cover from transparent to opaque (great for privacy for celebrity babies) and a DVD player.
My friend started to get totally carried away. I had to explain - quite forcefully - that it exists only in theory and that no amount of money or promise of features would make it come real before baby Taffeta was born. In the meantime, I told him, really fashionable mothers weren't even using prams, but slinging their babies instead. Slings don't have satnav, but they do come in pretty colours.