Welcome to the UK's first Fertility Show. The two-day event, which took place at the weekend, has been described as an "Ideal Home Exhibition for making babies" and will run annually at Olympia in west London for the next three years. Organised in association with Infertility Network UK (a charity that offers advice and information to people with infertility problems), there is a dizzying array of exhibitors; over 40 IVF specialists, clinics offering on-the-spot fertility tests and information on egg freezing, sperm banks, nutritionists, acupuncturists and the latest advice on donor conception.
Think wedding - or career - fair. A conference center, tables, "information." Brochures. Cards. The occasional freebie. Except the attendees are stressed out and anxious. And as the Guardian describes the fertility fair, it's a mix of actual respected specialists and "experimental" techniques that such a vulnerable population might be especially vulnerable to. To wit: "Positioned behind a reassuringly sensible looking stand run by Chelsea & Westminster Assisted Conception Unit is a business that calls itself "Fertility Astrology", which claims to be able to assess the quality of your eggs by mapping your stars." Nearby, though, there's an informative lecture by a specialist whom most of these people would normally not have access to.
The divorce fair is a similar mix. Actually, it's for "Divorce, Separation and Bereavement." Says Reuters, "There were workshops on "How to bounce back," "How to love yourself in order to bounce back," or, more prosaically, "The role of plastic surgery in reconquering one's self-image." Financial advice and experts on single-parenting are found next to the "School of Seduction." Oh, and if you're not quite there yet, "singletons or soon-to-be singletons could also hire the services of a private detective agency to uncover evidence of infidelity or hidden financial assets." I'm sure seeing that doesn't trigger anything negative for those trying to bounce back! Or, perhaps, it bounces them right into the plastic surgery booth?
What events like both of these do seem to provide is solidarity. Says one attendee at the Fertility Fair, "At least here you feel you're not alone; the only one going through this." And that surely goes double for the Divorce Fair - indeed, it's shocking that some enterprising dating service hasn't set up shop by the entrance. Neither article really gets into the success rates of such events, however one quantifies that - but surely, as much as anything, anyone attending, whether they come away with a helpful card or no, feels that they have taken matters into their hands and "done something" - which can be as important as anything. And there's always that to be said for making the essentially private overwhelmingly, openly public?