"Where have all the good men gone?" sang Bonnie.
I dunno love, but I strolled into the Hague yesterday to try and find out. Well, I didn't stroll, I took the train, strolling to the Hague would have had me found dead from exhaustion about half way, but that's not important. Well, my death would be important of course, to some at least, but that's not what I'm talking about.
I headed for the English bookshop. Ironically this is actually an American bookshop, but once again, that's also not important. Stop interrupting.
I wanted to pick up some books, obviously enough. I wanted to find something, anything, on 'trying to conceive', or infertility, or just starting a family, from a male point of view.
What a waste of oxygen and sitting on my arse time that adventure turned out to be.
It's a relatively small shop, with a limited selection of books in relation to conception, pregnancy, childbirth and childcare, but I imagine it is quite representative of what's available in the market.
Of all the books on show, there were TWO specifically aimed at men, BOTH were related to childcare and rearing, and BOTH were big, bold hardbacks with titles like 'Child Operation Manual' or some such other utter pigshit, with pictures of a frazzled daddy on the front, with a toddler under his arm and a beer bottle up his arse.
'Okay' I say, and onward I search. Into the deceptively named realm of the conception and infertility section. I say deceptively named, as there was sweet fanny adams on infertility.
So I dive deeper into the conception books which consisted of two groups.
One, understandably enough, was full of big pink and other pastel coloured books with fat bellies and smiley faces on the cover, full with references to mother earth, and egg white whatsits, and 7am thermometers up the bum.
The second type were manuals that were just as thick, twice as tall, and less comprehensible than myself. If Freud himself had problems getting his mother up the duff, he would struggle to understand these medical journals.
My conclusion is that us fellas either have to put up with these 'changing nappies for dummies' novelty type books, or bloody biological ledgers that you need 17 years training to be able to follow.
NEWSFLASH, we are not all either complete muppets, or experts.
Some of us, me at least, fall somewhere in between.
So why isn't there anything written for, or by normal men on the subjects of conception, trying to conceive, or infertility?
Does conception not affect us? The last time I checked, fellas made up roughly half of every heterosexual couple trying to conceive, and have a 'hand' in one or two homosexual couples trying to conceive.
Does trying to conceive not affect us? Fellas want children, they want families. They might not always say it, and they prefer to be seen to be dragged kicking and screaming into the abyss that is responsibility, but under that facade, they love the idea of being dads, the head of a household. We just know it.
Does infertility not affect us? Exclusively male factor infertility accounts for 30% of infertility cases in couples failing to conceive. With 30% attributed exclusively to the women, 30% to a combination of both, and with 10% unexplained, even someone who needs one of those 'dummy' books can figure out that men bear half the responsibility in cases of infertile couples.
Why in name of all that is holy does the increasingly popular male tendency to be 'idiot or expert' have to spill into this area? Infertility is often not easily overcome, but often, very often, there are simple steps that can be taken to reverse it, or avoid it in the first place, from the male point of view.
I'm all for playing stupid to ET when I don't want to have to make myself a toasted sandwich, but this is slightly more pressing than an afternoon snack.
Why isn't there something for, or someone supporting the normal fella, the one who struggles with medical journals but is rightly ashamed to have to resort to a 'fatherhood by numbers' novelty book?
As I stood in that shop yesterday, the CD playing was Ray Lamontagne, 'until the sky turns black'. Ironically, that is just one example of a guy tackling uncomfortable subjects (depression in this case) but using his skills to work it out, and there are literally thousands of songwriters doing the same.
If so many musicians can do it, why can't writers?
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I'm all that weird, not to the point where I'm completely off the mark with this. Fellas DO want to know about these subjects, how they affect them, what they can do about it and what to expect, but there's nothing out there for them. Even in the wild expanses of the internet, where lack of anonymity is no longer an excuse to shy away from these topics, resources for men on this are few and far between.
I should know, I've been searching long and hard enough.
Even though the runt gets on my nerves, there's something about short arsed Irishmen that don't know when to shut up, that just appeals to me and makes me want to quote Bono.
'I still haven't found what I'm looking for'