MIND HOW YOU GO
Are you sitting comfortably? Are the omens so disposed that peace and harmony reign and your essential principles
are well arranged? Is the reviving cup or stimulating glass to hand, and the air stirred by the smoke from one of those deliciously
mild cigars whose name escapes me? In short, is the world a pleasant place and the fevered brain restored to a calm and tranquil state?
It is? Good: I'll soon put a stop to that.
I am sure that one salient fact of everyday life has not escaped your penetrating gaze -
indeed you would have to be deficient in the majority of the five senses had it done so - and I refer, of course, to the unequivocal
assertion what whatever we may be short of in these difficult times it is not prophets of gloom.
They abound, nay, they proliferate
at an amazing rate, and it isn't their fault if they don't leave us with a qualmish feeling and the inescapable impression that doom
is just around the corner.
Now I assume that you are a car owner. Harmless enough you would say, a convenience work-wise, and an opportunity
to get away from it all at weekends and holiday times. How wrong you are. Even assuming that the brakes don't fail or the wheel comes
off, you are courting disaster in a way you have never envisaged. You aren't getting any exercise are you? And the posture, semi-recumbent,
is playing havoc with your stomach muscles. Our doom watchers have proved conclusively (to their own satisfaction if to no one elses)
that if you have driven for more than 10 years it is only a matter of time before you get a sharp touch of the Emerson Fittipaldi's
in the left hub-cap and expire in agony on the Exeter by-pass.
You may not have a car, and indeed, walk to work. Don't think for a
moment that you are safe. Do you realise the strain that this basic pastime is imposing on your bone structure'? There are 724 bones
(give or take a bone or two) in your ankle and it will be a miracle if all this perambulation doesn't cause one or two of them to
collapse at any minute. You could drop an arch or strain a fetlock even by trotting round to the local. And if you happen to be over
30 don't even trot: the Hospitals are full of people who did and wished they hadn't. Much safer to stay indoors.
But is it? Alas! If
it were only so. But it would appear that whatever risks we run by venturing out into the great big world, they pale into insignificance
by the dangers that beset us on every side as we sit all aware by our own firesides. An American Professor has just proved that the
earth is shrinking at a fantastic rate every year. You hadn't noticed? Then his warning comes in the nick of time; you have just time
to take off for outer space before your heavily mortgaged, every-modern-inconvenienced, semi-detached, moves inexorably closer to
the one next door, eventually merging there with consequences too horrible to contemplate. What is more, a team of researchers in
our own fair land have discovered to their joy, (it must be joy otherwise they would hardly have rushed so vociferously into print),
that a new race of Death Watch beetles has grown up with a complete immunity to all known forms of pesticide. Pop upstairs and have
a look at the spare room floor; the little blighters are contentedly munching away at the woodwork and there isn't a thing you can
do about it.
No wonder you're looking pale: have a drink, I should. But stay; tea and coffee are inexorably rotting your internal arrangements.
Beers, wines and spirits are definitely out, (and if you find yourself looking like an Ansells Bitterman you are past all medical
aid) while who wants to drink water with all those horrible unseen microbes floating therein, merely waiting to erode your vitals?
and steady on with that plate of steak and chips; courting disaster that is for sure. A dish to titillate the taste buds I grant you,
but the quickest way to Emergency Ward 10 if the pundits are to be believed. You could just sit by the fire of course; but have you
thought of the fumes? Or if you're all-electric can you be confident that the skirting board isn't glowing hot, merely waiting to
burst into flames the very moment you retire to bed. And that's another thing; more people die in bed than anywhere else. Can you,
dare you, venture upstairs?
You know, if I go on much longer I shall scare myself to death. Or at least I should if I wasn't firmly
convinced that the human race will survive Scientists, Doom Watchers, Cassandras and their fellow travellers, if for no other reason
than just plain cussedness.
There is no doubt that one of todays most popular pastimes on Television and in the Press is this obsession
with crying "woe, woe". Makes you wonder how the human race has survived all this time, doesn't it? Perhaps it has something to do
with a comment I once read about the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The pessimist sees the bottle as half empty;
the optimist sees it as half full.
So pour me another glass will you? and to the devil with the microbes.