A few days into the new decade, it already feels as if an age of surprise and paradox is dawning. In a warming world, we are experiencing the coldest winter for years. The Conservatives have promised to control the might of supermarkets. And – the biggest shock of all – it has been discovered that the human gender which is the more in touch with its innermost feelings, most emotionally honest and consistent, is... male.
No one was prepared for that. Men have been in the doghouse for so long that it has begun to feel like home. Women's comfortable settlement on the high moral ground is now accepted as part of the age-old natural order.
But wait. An authoritative study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour journal, has investigated 132 surveys, involving 4,000 interviewees, in order to analyse truthfulness when it comes to sexual matters.
The results are startling. Whereas men's mental and physical response to desire was found to be perfectly aligned, there was a disastrous mismatch between what women felt and what they said they were feeling. Some reported that they were aroused when, physiologically, they were not. Others claimed to feel nothing when in fact their bodies were absolutely fizzing with erotic need.
The report has been spun various ways in the press. Female sexuality is more subtle and nuanced than male randiness, one argument has gone. Another interpretation suggested that a terrible burden of guilt has afflicted many women whose bodies are sending them all the wrong signals. The truth, surely, is simpler than that. Men are more mature, less in denial, about their sexual natures. The male mind and body are in a healthy state of balance.
Once this simple fact has been accepted, then the great G-spot scandal, one of the week's other big news stories, is easy to explain. Back in 1981, an American author called Beverly Whipple wrote a bestselling book heralding the discovery of an erogenous zone which provided women with a brand new type of orgasm, far better than the standard-issue one. The report caused heartache, muscle sprain and disappointment for couples all over the world. The search for the G-spot became a late 20th-century version of a previous era's quest for the Northwest Passage.
Now, according to scientists at King's College London, the lovers' holy grail was little more than a fantasy. Its existence, they argue, was based on the subjective opinions of women. In the matter of sex, these turned out – once again – to be a highly unreliable source.
As happens so often in these intimate matters, things have turned nasty. Whipple has defended her G-spot. Others have argued that the discovery of the new zone depends on the quality of the male lover. Ungenerously, it has been pointed out that, in this survey, the partners would tend to be British. Thus, in one easy move, the male – at least the blundering male of these islands – is back in the doghouse.
Let us hope that in this new decade, some sort of gender balance will be established. An early hero of the new age will be Warren Beatty whose mental and physical alignment is so perfect that, according to a new biography, he has had 12,775 lovers. To gain a sense of scale, imagine an average crowd at a Queens Park Rangers match consisting entirely of women who have had sex with Warren Beatty. The star's lawyer has issued a denial while Beatty himself has kept a tactful silence. That is how men deal with these things – honestly and with quiet dignity.
Joy, confusion, anger? None of it's making sense, Van Morrison
Like Greek myths and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, stories of celebrity misdoings need to have a clear and obvious moral structure: a hero, a villain, a temptation, a lesson.
Here is the problem with the tale of Van Morrison, his little baby, or, if you prefer the alternative version, the first great scam of 2010. When it was announced on his website that Van, 64, was the proud father of a son called George Ivan Morrison III, news reports were of the game-old-dog variety. Then someone spotted that the mother, Gigi Lee, was not actually married to Van.
There were claims that the singer's website had been hijacked. Someone who said he was a friend of the singer suggested he had never met Gigi Lee. Then it was noted that she was a co-director of several companies with him. Van, being a fully paid-up member of the Celebrity Recluse Club, was unable to comment. Frankly, we need guidance here. We want to feel joy, or anger, or at least a slightly confusing mixture of the two. Nothing quite makes sense, least of all Gigi's reported claim that little George looks the spitting image of his father.
All newborn babies, of course, are the spitting image of Van Morrison.
We could learn from seeing the funerals of obese people
Now that scientists in America have recognised that being extremely fat poses a more serious health hazard to Western nations than smoking does, there will doubtless be calls for "obesity kills" stickers to appear on chocolate bars and bottles of fizzy lemonade.
If the Government's obesity tsar (there must be an obesity tsar) is looking for deterrent images along the lines of the photographs of cancer-riddled lungs or throats which appear on cigarette packets, perhaps some shots of a fat person's funeral would do the trick.
More and more cemeteries are obliged to use two plots for their outsize clients, it was reported this week. Britons are stuffing themselves to such an extent that the standard width of a coffin has had to be extended by two inches. The traditional tapered coffin, widest at the shoulders, has now had to give way to a wardrobe-sized rectangle. A more circular design, allowing space for vast, protuberant bellies and buttocks, must surely be on its way.
How odd it is that, while smoking is seen as a great social evil, the strain that obesity puts on the human body, the health service, the national economy and even cemeteries is accepted as an inevitable by-product of modern life.
* A private BBC seminar has reached a blindingly obvious conclusion: viewers are bored by "pre-packaged and predictable" TV. If a programme is not actually a repeat, audiences believe, then it is likely to be a retread based on a tired formula.
There is a connection between the corporation's overpaid middle management and this safety-first pursuit of market trends: risk and creativity are seen as the enemy. Let us hope that this is the year when British television, led by the BBC, becomes less cautious, more reckless, more generally prepared to take a chance in the name of originality.Reuse content