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And moving swiftly on . . .

Michelle Rocca, might have known that there would be 'days like this'. She did, after all, pose with Van Morrison on the cover of his 1995 album, the happy couple walking their two dogs together.

Of course, a recent posting on his official website about his fathering a child with music producer Gigi Lee was revealed to be an elaborate, mischievous hoax. No, Van Morrison did not father a child with his manager, while the world believed that he was still with Michelle, mother to their two young children.

But a lot of people fell for it for a variety of reasons. First of all, it appeared on his official website, which is the seal of approval for any story these days. Secondly, it gained credence due to Morrison's notorious hatred of discussing his private life in public -- it was conceivable that he and Michelle had broken up and not spoken about it.

Putting aside the individual protagonists involved and the fact that the story was a hoax, it was the idea of a middle-aged man abandoning his wife and kids to father a child with someone he'd just met which set off differing reactions in Irish households.

Because, let's face it, women greeted the news with horror, indignation and a sharpened kitchen knife, while men throughout the land simply shrugged their shoulders and said "yeah, so, what's the big deal?".

The difference lies in the interpretation of the marriage vows, particularly the last line. Women hear "till death do us part". Many men, on the other hand, (and I deliberately exclude Van Morrison from this generalisation), pick up on that tiny, subliminal pause between the words 'death' and 'do', catching with their sixth sense that barely-audible 'or a better offer'.

And when that offer comes along, the lives you've lived together, the family you've brought up, are regularly cast aside in an instant.

Men don't mourn. Or rather, we do so while busy with other things. It's one of the only times that we multi-task, as we feel that any form of dwelling on the past is a waste of time.

The day after my father died, I was back at my desk first thing in the morning. Not out of disrespect to him, but simply because life moves on and I, as a man, wasn't willing to stand still while it did.

So women will gaze in disbelief at the proven ability of certain men (again I'm excluding Van Morrison from this statement) to not only leave their partners and their families in limbo, but to father a child with a new woman within a period of months.

The periods of mourning that men and women apply to death -- be it of a person or of a relationship -- are like chalk and cheese.

Following a break up, women go into a period of mourning. Flags are dangled at half mast, veils are worn for any forays into the outside world, while boxes of tissues and buckets of bite-sized chocolates are emptied as friends are gathered for weekend-long huddles around DVD box sets. And over a period of, oh, maybe six months, sorrow turns to anger, then bitterness, then revenge, and ultimately new life. Men, on the other hand, break-up, go home, have a shower, and go out again.

Commit

Women commit themselves to a partner by wearing a ring -- a solid, ever-present, difficult-to-dislodge lump of metal. A more suitable memento for many men would be the rubber stamp you get to gain access to the VIP area of a nightclub -- it looks permanent, but after a couple of washes, it's gone.

And when we've moved on, we need to procreate. Like dogs who mark out their territory by weeing on every available spot, so men mark down their own by inseminating the next woman who grabs their fancy. It's partly our way of staying young. Women often make the mistake of thinking that having a wife half your age is a man's way of drinking the elixir of youth, but it's not. What makes you feel young is holding a young child in your arms, and having it call you Daddy, just like your first kids did some 30 years previously, when you were young. But also, just like young, star-crossed lovers etching their initials in the bark of an old oak tree, when middle-aged men spray their seed, we do it as a simple proof of life. It's our way of saying "I was here".


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