There is a probable tragedy unfolding in the UK at the moment. Three year old Madeleine McCann was abducted from her hotel bedroom in Portugal on Thursday last week. It doesn't look good, there don't appear to be any leads. It is, of course, all over the news, and it is clearly a terrible ordeal for her mother, Kate, who has made a televised appeal for information and help. My heart goes out to her.
But hey, I'm going to break with the crowd and send my heart out, moreover, to Madeleine's father, Gerry. Well, at least I assume that he's her father. The media don't seem inclined to tell us. Most of the newspaper articles I have seen refer to him as simply "her husband, at her side", a few talk about "Madeleine's parents", but hardly any seem to know how to use the word "father". (Go on, guys, you can do it, like this: fah-thurr. Remember to put your tongue between your teeth for the second syllable. Give it a good try now, together with me: fah-thurr. Very good! Have a cookie.)
There is lots of commentary on what Kate is going through, which is surely appalling, and none on what Gerry might be suffering which is doubtless equally appalling, but clearly less newsworthy.
Melanie McDonagh of the Telegraph refers to the newspaper cliché "Every Mother's Nightmare" and the 'It Could Have Been Me" moment for any mother', apparently unaware that she could have avoided the cliché by reference to "Every Parent's Nightmare" and that the "It Could Have Been Me" moment applies to fathers as well.
The BBC has interviewed Kerry Grist, mother of Ben Needham who vanished at 21 months old in 1991 on Kos and has not been seen since. We know all about Kerry's never-ending anguish, but all we know about Ben's father is that he's not married to Kerry any more.
The closest that the BBC gets to the male side of the McCann family is a few lines from Madeleine's great uncle.
Kate, this is terrible for you, and Gerry, the media might not be able to see you, but we know you are there and that it is terrible for you too. Hang in there man.
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