When my caregiver casually commented that "I appear to be a few days overdue in the gynaecological department," I immediately responded by assuring her gruffly that it would be nothing more than business stress throwing her system around a bit.

This, of course, is a typical male response when dealing with the unthinkable.

However, with the passing of another week and the realisation that I might possibly have a personal crisis on my hands that could require the Government to announce a second national emergency, I was sent packing on a shopping expedition to my local chemist.

"I wish to purchase two items," I whispered hoarsely.

"A pregnancy testing kit and a suicide pill."

The test-kit is unbearably brutal. You'd expect it would display a neat little cheerful tick in the appropriate box for a positive reaction - instead, you get a cross, the sort of symbol they slapped on your front door during the Black Death.

"How can this be?" I whined weakly.

I felt as though I'd been handed "the black spot," which, as readers might recall, was the "prepare to meet thy doom" notice given to grizzled old seafarers in Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Over a cup of tea, I desperately explored other possibilities to explain the pickle I appear to be facing.

"I'm clearly far too old and doddery to be the father, so I wonder if by chance you've been visited by angels or aliens announcing you've been chosen for an extraordinary birth, requiring me to only fill a secondary role in the proceedings?" I asked hopefully.

"No such luck," I was assured by my smiling caregiver, reminding me of some careless, alcoholically induced frolicking over the holidays.

"Anyhow, you still won't be the oldest father in New Zealand; that record's held by a 111-year-old," I was informed.

"But that's a Tuatara - a prehistoric fossil!" I recalled.

"Well, as another ancient old fossil, you've still got some catching up to do," the caregiver retorted chirpily.

A visit to our medical practitioner confirmed the inevitable.

"Shame I haven't got you on Viagra," he mused.

"You could have sued the drug company for damages to the future well-being of a dotty old-age pensioner."

The only comfort gleaned from my predicament is that, as my pins grow more shaky while exercising the dog, I can now save on the cost of a walker frame by hanging on to a pram handle instead.