Monday, 29 April 2019


Who needs champagne when there was the astonishingly wonderful weather of Easter weekend? As the sun beamed down on the beaches of Brighton it was as though all the miseries of Brexit  - the hokey-cokey story– “in-out-in-out-shake-it-all-about” – had been erased . And anyway during the week it dawned on me that this Brexit stress was not actually what it was all about.

A study, from the National Institute on Ageing and the National Institutes of Health, suggests even small daily stress factors can lead to health problems later in life. What about “big daily stresses”? Because I have rarely seen such disaffection as now.

According to work done recently at the University of Bristol there’s an alarmingly high incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease amongst young adults in the UK. The startling insight of this study is that the liver diseases normally associated with hitting the bottle may instead be brought about by stress in the young. I was so concerned by this that I had to have a glass of wine.

We live uncertainly in a stressful world. And it’s not just Brexit. It’s not just terrorist attacks. It’s about something rather more in our own control. The complexity and crowdedness of our lives today. Technology is remarkable in  its cleverness.  But the creativity of people creating apps that solve problems we didn’t know we actually had, creates stress.  And stress leads to liver disease.

I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur although I’m afraid I am one. I was born into a pre digital world and I cannot honestly say that WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or even Amazon have necessarily transformed my life for the better. When I’m travelling my Kindle allows me to carry a library but actually reading a real book printed on crisp new paper in a nice font that smells of “new book” is still an unbeatable experience. As is writing a real letter on Basildon Bond using my poor ignored Mont Blanc full of Quink.

Our world is crammed with “solutions”. We have eating solutions, logistic solutions, accommodation solutions, clothing solutions, health solutions or, ultimately, solution solutions. We don’t need solutions (which presuppose problems) we need simplifications and less choice.

Libby Purves following that long, languorous Easter weekend, speculated on the large number of people who’d be saying they wanted to get away from it all. I can hear them:
“let’s sell up, take a camper van, go through France stopping wherever takes our fancy, eat chunks of fresh bread lying next to a bubbling stream,  quaffing local wine from the bottle and watching white fluffy clouds scud across the deep blue sky.”

I know people who did just that. They came back,  said it had been fun at first….but not after a while. Too many bloody fluffy clouds. You can’t turn back the clock. Dinosaurs die but until they do let’s stop submitting meekly to technology that’s not a solution just stress inducing.


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