THE OTHER day I was on the bus and reading the paper and feeling depressed in a biologically pre-determined sort of way. I suspected it was because I was coming down off my second coffee, but I don't really need a reason to be depressed. I'm a man, goddammit, and that's reason enough for me.

There was an article about fingers and depression. It said that men whose ring fingers are longer than their index fingers are more likely to suffer from depression due to high levels of testosterone, which governs the development of the fingers. Next to the article was a picture of a podgy hand with a ring finger freakishly extending two millimetres beyond the index finger. I held up my own hand for inspection. I was shocked. Each of my ring fingers is a full half inch longer than my index fingers. I'd never realised quite how disgusting my hands were, perhaps because I've always concentrated on my disgusting toes.

That night at a party I did what any man with a new physical oddity would do. I showed it round to gasps of horror. "Wow," said one short- ring-fingered acquaintance after another, "you must be really depressed."

And I am. Increasingly there seems to be some biological imperative governing everything that's wrong with men, from their chronic depression to their obsession with video games and their love of barbecuing. This in itself is depressing. When I read that the average man plays a video game three times a week, I congratulated myself because I have never even purchased a video game, but then I remembered my FreeCell problem. FreeCell, if you don't know, is the crappy Patience that comes with Windows software. In the first three years of owning my computer I didn't know what it was. Then I discovered its rules. It's pathetically easy, and terribly addictive. The computer keeps a record, so I know that in the past year I've played it 1,376 times. How inescapably, typically male.

After the party I was pretty depressed, so I went upstairs and had a few games of FreeCell, which made me feel worse. In the morning I checked to see if I passed on my condition to my sons. The melancholy baby has long ring fingers, while the happy-go-lucky middle child has normal ones. My eldest child has one of each. I guess that means he could go either way. At least he'll be surprised.