Wednesday 2 June 2010
Raising the cost of living
There is a suggestion today that cut-price offers on alcohol should be abolished in order to improve the nation's health and reduce the number of alcohol-related diseases and deaths. Making alcohol more expensive would encourage consumers to buy less and therefore drink less – maybe. When the football World Cup starts (or has it already? I'm not a follower of what is reputed to be 'Our National Sport' – please! Spare me!) will those who set out to enjoy themselves by getting completely rat-arsed be persuaded not to do so if the price of their particular poison has risen? I think not!
Many more people are killed on the roads than through drinking. Perhaps the price of cars and fuel should be raised so that there are fewer cars on our busy roads. Wasn't there a slogan once that asked, 'Is your journey really necessary?' Breathing in exhaust fumes is not healthy so if you can afford to drive your super-expensive vehicle with its even more expensive fuel (on average it's already £121.5 per litre or £552.3 per gallon) invest in a face mask.
What about the number of people admitted to hospital each year through falls in the home? Eliminating stairs in houses, making them bungalows, or compulsorily replacing them with stair lifts would solve that problem. If potential house-owners can't afford those solutions then they'd better not attempt to buy. Still, some people trip over rugs – bare floors for all. Hang on, people slip on tiles or wooden floors – I know, make the surface non-slip or force people to wear suction shoes, Spiderman style – affordable answers for those who receive a decent living wage.
Boiling water is hazardous – let the people abandon tea and coffee and drink cold beverages, though not alcohol, obviously. Hobs and ovens get dangerously hot – the way out? Cold food – not meat, since it is not safe to eat raw meat. As for ironing, forget it! (I did, a long time ago.) Showers and baths can be very slippery – better eliminate them, too.
Aren't there an awful lot of overweight citizens? Put up the price of food so that they will eat less – again, only really applicable to the less affluent. Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle lead to poor circulation, heart disease, digestive disturbances, so let's dispose of all the things that encourage folks to sit down – television, computers, books, board games, embroidery, painting – endless possibilities here.
If you can afford a house – without stairs, cooking facilities, showers and so forth, you will probably want to make alterations or at the very least maintain it in good decorative order. Wait! Danger lurks round every corner. Hanging wallpaper? You might need to climb a ladder for that and you could fall off – better not. Just stick to paint. A roller on an extending pole should do the trick though you'll have to do just a little at a time – say fifteen minutes a day or you're risking back and neck problems, not to mention the possibility of paint splashing in your eyes (or is that just me?) You want to put up some shelves – ooh, careful! Saws are risky with their nasty serrated edges, hammers hurt fingers and nails are sharp. In any case, the shelves will have to be set low to obviate the risk of things falling off them onto your head, feet, back - and you won't need them for books now, will you? So what will the shelves be used for? Ornaments? – oh, no, ornaments can fall and break and you might step on them, even in your suction shoes, and cut your foot. You thought you might put house plants on the shelves? Make sure they're not poisonous or irritating to the skin, eyes, nose . . . or harbouring poisonous insects from foreign climes.
Everyday house maintenance includes cleaning windows, (not often, in this house), dusting, (ditto), polishing, (ermm . . . ), clearing gutters, (you're joking!) and a myriad other riveting exercises, all carrying their due portion of peril, so they'd better not be pursued - mustn't clutter up the hospitals or the graveyards.
Quite apart from gutters, the garden is another area of danger – gardening forks to impale you, rakes to jump up and hit you in the face, secateurs to cut off fingers as well as cuttings – all potentially very dangerous so why not make them so expensive that consumers will think twice before buying them? Oh, and don't even think about feeding the birds – some of the diseases they carry, like salmonellosis and psittacosis, are zoonotic. Yersiniosis is another one but to me it sounds like something afflicting someone who cannot say 'no'.
Let us suppose that you are doing all in your power to preserve body and soul in the best possible state of fitness. You decide to swim – well, you won't be doing that on a full stomach once food is prohibitively expensive, but you could still drown and as it is possible to drown in less than two inches of water (if you're face down, obviously) please ensure that the depth of water in the pool does not exceed this measure. As you will then be causing great trauma to your head and limbs if you attempt to swim, you'd better not! Next?
Running? Long-term running wears out joints and it's tricky finding the right location, too. Pavements are hard, uneven, full of pedestrians, contaminated with diesel fumes, so they are not suitable – far too many dangers. Using an athletics track might not be advisable. Running round in circles causes vertigo. You could try the forest but again it's not prudent – tree roots, dog pooh, mud, uneven surfaces – just asking for an accident there. So maybe a gym (or leisure centre as they are so picturesquely called these days) could be the solution if you don't mind sharing the air and the equipment with patrons you might otherwise cross the road to avoid. Too many microbes – you're bound to 'catch' something and then you'll be ill, which is what you're trying to avoid. I think you can discount running.
Cycling? Obviously not – just think about it. If you're travelling on the highway (how quaint!) you encounter the same difficulties as the unfortunate runner and likewise on the track or in the country.
How about rowing? As with swimming, there is a distinct danger of drowning, so the safe depth of water effectively disqualifies rowing as a pastime.
Climbing, potholing, white water rafting all rule themselves out as do all martial arts, sports involving close contact or hard balls, high impact exercises (it's the joints again) .
We are running out of alternatives. Tai chi chuan (the slow form) could be a runner – so long as you make sure the area around you is completely clear of hazards – like other people practising tai chi.
All in all, life is precious and must be preserved at all costs – or at any rate, at great cost.
I do hope we can all follow the simple rules above and enjoy our safe lives as we proceed slowly through our days, avoiding all jeopardy and each other.