Over the years since I returned, along with my wife and family to these sometimes green and pleasant lands, I have become immune to the constant nudges, shouts, demands and instructions from the Health Nazi Brigades seemingly permanently employed by various Government departments to keep on telling us that we are too fat, too idle, too lazy, too unhealthy; that we should, or alternatively should not, eat various substances, foods which are ‘in favour’ of the particular science, or medical, or indeed paranormal, beliefs of the moment. First we have to keep drinking red wine, because it staves off heart disease. Then a year later, another wild-eyed scientific prophet comes out with a study which ‘proves’ beyond all reasonable doubt that red wine is a killer, and thus to be avoided at all costs. Then we have the vegetarian and vegan people calling for red meat to be banned, because that is the prime push for an early death.
Now I do know, and accept, that my mate David is a vegan, but I also know that he is far too well-mannered to push his beliefs, regarding eating or anything else, on to any of the rest of us. Which is the whole point of my writing. If these people believe so fervently in the truth of their cause, why do they not simply state that they will be adopting/abjuring the particular food/drink/substance which is the subject of their cause/derision, and then ask; repeat ‘ask’ if those of us who give their research credence, to join them, and then see if the rest of the population suffers the early death they have predicted?
Readers will understand, now, the real reason for my writing today, was the sighting, in our local Tesco last Friday, of a young woman who was literally stick thin. She looked exactly the same, from her stick-like legs, through her painfully-thin lower body and torso, to her gaunt and ravaged face; as the victims who emerged from the Japanese and Nazi-German death-camps of Dachau and Changi. Now I may be many things, but daft is not one of them; so I did not move forward and intervene, as maybe a well-meaning fool would have done, with this young woman who was obviously intent on killing herself; mainly from a well-developed sense of self-preservation. I did not ask a perfect stranger if she knew how ill she actually was! Many other fellow shoppers looked askance at this walking skeleton, but none spoke to her, and so neither did I. Cowardly? Possibly, but there is the curse of modern life, in Great Britain at least. Should I have spoken out? I do not know, but, having hesitated, I remained silent.
I recall, some years ago, standing in the local butchers shop on a Saturday morning. In front was this young boy, who was finishing paying for his purchases. He carried the meat back towards the entrance, and then attempted, struggling with the load; to pick up some seven other well-laden shopping bags, as he, and he alone, was doing all the family shopping! Now the thought which passed through not only my mind, but also at least two other people behind me in the queue, was to offer a hand to get his load back to where he was headed; but, strangely, I hesitated, because just at that time was a particularly nasty case of paedophilic child abuse in the headlines: and the lady behind the counter must have read our collective minds; because she gave a very distinct negative headshake and nod to all of us in the queue. So, we all minded our own business, and this young boy struggled away down Silver Street, and away to where his no doubt strangely-uncaring family lived.
Are we our brothers’ keeper? We should be, but, somehow, the fear of being mistaken; of being regarded as something rather nasty and semi-evil, prevents us from taking action or speaking out. It is, indeed, a funny old world!