How to win over a woman
A bloke holding a baby will elicit adulation from the fairer sex, says Judith Woods
Babies, pah! A royal baby? Well that's an even bigger, possibly republican pah, isn't it?
If it's a chap's own issue, he's expected to take an interest, of course, but frankly the sporting calendar is getting more and more exciting and why on earth have our womenfolk gone slightly barmy about the arrival of a tiny person they will never actually meet?
At a weekend barbecue the prevailing mood among the blokes of my acquaintance was one of puzzled indifference.
While they wished mother and then baby-to-be well, in an abstract sort of way, the growing euphoria was beyond them.
"Surely if you've given birth to a baby already, which you have, twice, then seeing another baby is no big deal?" inquired my corporate lawyer friend, fortified by beer and burnt chicken.
"Aha, but that's the thing," I replied. "This is a NEW baby, an ickle-wickle sleepy baby, a baby too young to scream dog's abuse because it doesn't like wearing socks or reach over a tiny fist and make itself a Sudocrem beard or smell of anything other than Irresistable Essence of Newborn."
Still there was no flicker of understanding. I was Dr Miriam Stoppard, he was Jeremy Clarkson; there was simply no common ground between us, just a lot of dust and revving.
But then I had a maternal manifestation, a blinding psychology-of-the-sexes epiphany that will surely become the basis for the next "Men are from Mars Women are from Venus" relationship bestseller.
"Give me your phone!" I barked. He proudly brandished his iPhone 5.
"Do you like your phone – do you love it, even?
"Do you enjoy feeling it in your pocket and arrogantly flashing it about in front of other men who are several state-of-the-art Samsungs behind you?"
"Well yes! Yes I do, dammit!" he cried.
"Okay then, imagine a fellow strode in right now – gingerly mind, as though he'd just had a vasectomy with no anaesthetic – cradling an iPhone 6, wrapped in Little White Company cashmere.
"Would you hang back and shrug with technological ennui, because you've got one already? No you would not! You and all the other men would be oohing and coo-ing and stroking and having a go – because that's what nature and the late Steve Jobs intended."
It's no exaggeration to say in that moment the clouds of gender incompatibility dissipated and bright shafts of clarity broke through.
No self-respecting man can withstand the seductive siren call of a shiny, shiny straight-from-the-factory fancy-schmancy gadget.
And for that very same reason (sort of), no woman can stop herself from seizing a newborn and burying her nose deep into the softness of the milky sweetness of its little ear-neck-shoulder curve. That's what's expected at any rate, but in these domesticated dad days, it's not uncommon for even hardmen to melt when they come face-to-face with a new baby.
I've started no end of scurrilous rumours by posting photos of my spouse with a friend's baby, gazing lovingly down on the child, that certainly isn't mine, a look of beatific bliss playing about his lips.
Beatific possibly because he knows he won't be the poor sod pacing up and down all night, attempting to soothe its plaintive colicky wails.
Maybe that nurturing side has emerged because fathers play a greater role in their children's everyday life than did previous generations.
There's no stigma attached to a chap willing to expose his softer skillset; on the contrary, in the company of single women, a young man tenderly holding a borrowed baby will elicit more gasps of pinch-us-we're-dreaming adulation than a personal appearance by One Direction.
In theory then, men will continue to plead lack of interest about babies in general and the royal baby in particular.
But in practice, they would probably go as ga-ga as their wives and girlfriends if Kate Middleton handed them her precious newborn.
Unless of course, William was holding an iPhone 6, when I fear it might be too close to call.