Sunday, October 16, 2005

Like Too Many Custard Slices, email Makes You Fat

It comes as no great surprise to discover, less than 24 hours after being inducted into the ways of the Internut, that I am endangering my health. According to a news report in The Observer newspaper, "experts" - whatever they are - have decreed that the reason the country has run to fat is the email. Instead of walking around their offices in order to have inane conversations, people are sending emails to their colleagues. A Dr Dorian Dugmore, a health adviser to something called Sport England, says "we are losing millions of hours of exercise through the explosion of email".
It is, of course, an interesting thesis, and one trusts that Dr Dugmore - whose name has a satisfyingly Dickensian twang to it - has been well-compensated for his perspicacity. But I think, like much vogueish thinking, it misses the point. Email does not make you fat. Pies make you fat. Fizzy juice makes you fat. Beer makes you fat. Fly cemeteries make you fat. In short, fat makes you fat, and in taking 43 seconds to type that sentiment, I have grown no fatter. If anything, I have lost weight on account of my rage.
Still, the suggestion did prompt me to recall an item I saw in the Observer magazine several decades ago, in an informative cartoon strip called The Rudiments of Wisdom. This was a serious cartoon on the subject of science. It may have been aimed at children, but if it was, I failed to notice.
In one strip, the question was: why do women live for longer than men? It is, I think, an intriguing enquiry, and my immediate inclination would have been to suggest that the longevity of the ladies was due to the fact that it was men, on the whole, who went off and died in wars, and worked in jobs which wore them out by virtue of their physicality (mining, say, or farming) or their sheer, exasperating tedium (all manner of white collar jobs). I might also have added that the ladies lived longer just to spite their husbands by getting the last word.
But, no. Apparently not. Ladies lived longer because of a quirk of biology to which I am almost shamefaced to refer. Why? Because they sat down when they went to the lavatory, while men - on at least half of their visits - remained erect.
It seems no more implausible than the suggestion that emails are fattening, and I believed it for several years. Indeed, for a while I took to sitting down on all my visits to the Gentlemen's Excuse-Me, until the strain of thinking about it made me worry that I wouldn't be able to stand up again.


the prisoner said...

truly delightful, mr. elder!!

look forward to more.

Learson said...

British society is, at present, overweight (to borrow the jargon of investment analysis)in highly-paid shamans like Dugmore whose attempts to frighten England's highly impressionable middle-classes with preposterous prognostications are,sadly,doomed to meet with success.