Sitting is the new smoking

To be honest passive sitting has never bothered anyone. No one has come up to me and said ‘I’m sorry, but you sitting there is putting us off our dinners. Although I would like to think I could put anyone off their dinners just by sitting in their vicinity – I would do it all the time.

Despite my facetiousness, I know where they’re coming from. Sitting down all night in front of the gogglebox is not healthy. But when people are tired, they rest. And if they have jobs that keep them on their feet for 8 hours a day they’re too knackered to go for a run or a bike ride.

This is yet another case of some idiot with too much time on their hands telling people they shouldn’t be sitting on their arses. Because they’ve suddenly seen the error in their ways and want everyone to be equally enlightened.

But consider the alternative, if we were to give up sitting, when would we rest? Bedtime? There is nothing like getting to the end of your daily tasks and have a bit of a sit down in front of the telly for an hour or two. It’s the reward at the end of the task. Something to look forward to.

It’s called de-stressing. Winding down. Relaxing. You know all that stuff that the people who come up with stupid slogans like ‘sitting is the new smoking’ do all the time. Being on your feet all day and then stressing yourself about what you should be doing isn’t good for you either.

We are surrounded by hypocrites. ‘Do as I say not as I do’ people. They may mean well but I bet they don’t work a stressful day. Travel on a packed tube. Make dinner wash up and then go out for a run at midnight. That’s how heart attacks happen.

‘You should also eat at least 5 pieces of fruit and vegetable a day. More if you can. When do you do this? As you are walking around the living room because you daren’t sit down?

In places of work they now encourage ‘stand up meetings’ because they are better for you. One question: people in wheelchairs? Are they now to be pilloried for their refusal to join in a ‘stand-up meeting’.

Will people usher them from restaurants because sitting is the new smoking? Made to sit outside pubs?

Of course I am being stupid. But no more stupid than the ‘arse-wipe’ who came up with ‘sitting is the new smoking’ statement.

I would like to get all these ‘well-meaning’ idiots and hold them to their statements. When they try to sit down I will shout at them ‘sitting is the new smoking’. When they open a bag of crisps I will shout ‘fried food is metabolic poison’.

When they order a chocolate dessert in a restaurant I will shout ‘fruit makes a better dessert and contributes to your 5-a-day’.

Leave people alone. They’ve had enough of all this ‘health talk’. Let them smoke. Let them drink. Let them enjoy their lives without butting in and being a killjoy. It’s their lives. let them live and die how they want to.

As the late great Bill Hicks once said. “Non-smokers die every day.” Same goes for non-sitters.

“More tea, spawn of Hell?”

I’m not sure about this whole God and the Devil bit. It seems that those people who tout the word of God are either zealots or a bit unhinged. While the Satan-worshippers are a bit extreme – although they do have the most fun and listen to the best music.

For years I have waited for ‘Him’ to come down and have a chat over tea and cake. But he never has. The invite’s still there though. He is welcome, any time.

Which is why I was a bit miffed last night. Rather than ‘God’ in all his divinity, his estranged son Lucifer Morningstar pops in for a bit of a chinwag and a slice of battenberg.

Turns out he’s a really nice chap. Great personality and his heart is in the right place. He is an angel, or at least he was until good old dad singed his feathers.

Funnily enough he wants the same thing as God. He wants humankind to behave itself. Stay on the straight and narrow. Love one another and do unto others and all that stuff.

His grief with people, he said as he took a sip of darjeeling with a slice of lemon, was that man was flawed and God couldn’t see it. His unconditional love was blinding him to the fact that man was easily swayed into doing bad things.

So Lucifer’s bet was that he could collect more bad people than God could collect good people. Turns out that Lucifer is winning. Yes, God is out there but he’s sulking.

Most of the ‘Godlike’ people tend to hate homosexuals, so they’re going to hell. Other Godlike people are killing people in His name. Straight to hell they go too.

They believe they are better than other people. They commit the sin of pride and ‘boom’ down escalator to the everlasting fire.

Some covet their neighbours BMW and then they’re on the downward path too. Don’t even talk about the sanctity of marriage. Most people can’t even stay faithful to a TV show. And they’re all going to burn as well.

As Lucifer puts it, when the end of time comes he’ll be stacking the souls sideways in hell. While God might have a few souls wandering around heaven the vast majority of people are going to burn.

When he left, Lucifer told me he’d see me soon. I asked which sin have I committed? He told me most of them. The only one I haven’t committed was ‘thou shalt not kill’ andwhen I do I should yell ‘bingo’.

As he left I called him a ‘cunt’. He looked back and smiled benevolently at me. Then I asked God to forgive me of all my sins and I was truly repentant.

And that’s when Lucifer got angry and vanished in a puff of smoke.

He didn’t realise I knew the get-out clause.

I’m a customer. Does that mean I’m right?

Over the years I’ve found that some clients tend to become bloated with their own self-importance and a misplaced belief in the efficacy of their products.

They actually start to believe that the products their companies produce are what customers lie awake at night coveting.

Some clients don’t understand why ordinary people don’t rush out in droves with debit cards clutched in their sweaty little hands, eager to spend their electronic cash.

On occasion I have had to remind them that I am a customer. If you can’t convince me your product is good, I can’t convince other customers.

You can tell me that your product is fantastic but you forget your customers have the internet. They can search and find out exactly what people think of it in customer reviews.

Tell me that your service is second to none and I’m sure there’s a message board filled with customers telling everyone else how you never get in touch.

Put in your press release that you’re changing the way you work and giving your customers more and there will be a gaggle of people typing swear words in reply.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell a client that they can’t tell untruths. They will demand it be said. And be found out.

The internet isn’t just for photographing your food or sending pictures of cats clinging to tree branches, anymore. People are using it to find out about everything they buy.

If your products don’t pass muster, the consumer will quite easily pass on the bit where they hit ‘buy’.

We may live in a consumer society but there are better things to consume these days. And the customer will always find a better product or find out if you have told them ‘porkies’

It’s not a case of ‘buyer beware’. It’s a case of manufacturer make sure you deliver the goods.

If it’s bad for you, tax it.

It always surprises me the actions of governments when it comes to what they consider to be bad.

Smoking is bad. So bad that it kills people. Yet rather than ban it completely they tax it – the tobacco industry is so powerful an all-out ban is unthinkable.

Alcohol is bad. It’s an addictive poison. It’s not as poisonous as tobacco but ask the family of drunk driver’s victim how bad alcohol can be. Or Paul Gascoigne.

Then there’s trans fats or trans-unsaturated fatty acids. They are the major cause of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in Western nations.

There’s no tax yet, but just wait.

Now there’s a sugar tax. The idea behind it is to stop manufacturers putting it in their products, it’s not a tax on the consumer. Or so they say. But which sugar addict is going to pass up their daily fix?

They’re talking about replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners which won’t make us fat, but what they don’t mention is that artificial sweeteners are pure metabolic poison.

We just seem to be substituting one bad thing for another.

Times have changed. We know a lot more about food and drink and their effects on the body now. So why are we allowing all this bad stuff onto supermarket shelves?

It’s only when you become a ‘health-nut’ that you find you are being conned. The food we eat is pumped full of corn syrup – a sugary substance proven to contribute to obesity.

The juicing trend is also going to cause a lot of damage down the line. They’re full of natural sugars which can be just as bad as man-made sugars. Juicing just concentrates them. Unless you know how to mix them properly and work out the glycaemic load.

Too many natural sugars can irritate the pancreas and cause cancer. Ask Steve Jobs how his fruit diet helped him.

I’ll ask one question; if the government is taxing added sugars when will it get around to taxing natural sugars?

Again, it’s only a matter of time.






I’m going backwards in time

Maybe it’s a necessary part of growing older. Not wiser I hasten to add. I’m going back to old music, old films, even a few old TV series.

Recently, I bought a Budgie album ‘the MCA years 1973-1975’. I’d almost forgotten how great a band they were. For a 3-piece they certainly created a ‘full’ sound.

I’ve even watched a few old films, ‘Lust for Life’, ‘The agony & the ecstasy’, ‘Cleopatra’, and Charlton Heston as ‘Ben Hur’. All fantastic films.

On the TV front I’ve been watching Lou Grant, Bob Newhart, Rhoda, Roseanne and even the Mary Tyler Moore Show, things I wouldn’t dream of watching as a young man.

I mentioned some of these oldies to a younger contemporary of mine and the fellow looked at me as if I was talking Swahili.

As a young man I was amazed by everything. Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Sex Pistols, Sidney Lumet films, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese film noir, Magnus Pyke, Tomorrow’s World, Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen. Ernest Hemingway, Tolkien, Stephen King. Everything.

Today there is so much more music, more books, more films. We have websites full of every conceivable piece of knowledge. Vast repositories of entertainment for every taste.

And then we ignore 95% of it.

We say it’s not to ‘our taste’. It doesn’t ‘speak to me’. I’m not interested in science. Or I don’t like sport. There are moments of genius in everything.

I would ask what is the point in digitising everything, saving it for posterity or preserving all this fantastic stuff if no one can be arsed to watch it or read it.

I knew someone who bought the complete works of Shakespeare in leather bound books and systematically broke the spines on every book so it looked like he’d read every one.

When I asked him why? He simply said they made him appear smarter when people looked at his book shelf. I almost beat him up in sheer exasperation. I didn’t but I was tempted.

I did say ‘read the books you won’t appear smarter, but you never know, you just might learn something’.

I look at all the books, music, films and information around me and I feel cheated that I don’t have time to experience it all.

When science programmes talk about how our galaxy will collide with another at some point, or the sun will start to expand, or we will eventually colonise Mars, I feel sad that I will miss all these wonderful things.

There is so much to do that when I hear someone say ‘I’m bored’ I realise that the world isn’t a boring place, just that some of the people are.

The Earth is a dangerous place

You’re sitting on a core of 95% molten iron travelling at 66,000mph and spinning at 1,000mph. Yes, it’s dangerous.

Life has never been easy. It struggled from the primordial swamp millions of years ago and ever since has been trying to survive this planet’s efforts to kill it.

Life is winning, there are over 7.4 billion people on earth right now. And over 10 quintillion insects. 950,000 species with 10,000 more being discovered every year.

Whatever disease or disaster strikes this planet, life goes on. Even an extinction level event, like a meteor hitting the earth, doesn’t stop it.

Ok some dinosaurs got turned to coal and oil last time but in general, organisms keep reproducing and making up the numbers for those killed off.

The earth is a fascinating place and should be cherished. But we don’t. Lots of people are talking about saving it but let me assure you, the earth is fine.

We may make the place uninhabitable for humans but we will inevitable wipe ourselves out and then another dominant species will arise – one that can live on pollution.

We humans are just a stepping stone.

The only time we should worry about our planet is when the Sun stops burning hydrogen and burns helium instead. It will turn into a red giant swallowing Mercury, Venus and the Earth.

By then humans will either be long extinct or have left the Earth in search of other planets to pollute and destroy.

Until then the Earth will live on despite everyone’s best efforts to kill it.

Write th’ way a talk? Ar’ tha’ sure?

I was always taught to write as I talked. If I had followed these teachings to the letter, you would already have been subjected to a few swear words, a joke and a few incomprehensible ‘northernisms’ that would leave you feeling very confused.

The truth is, no one writes like they talk, except maybe Stephen Fry. It has been proven that normal ‘speak’ is littered with atrocities to grammar and ill-chosen words that make no sense when you examine the sentences closely.

But that is the way people speak. If you have ever seen something that has been transcribed you can physically see where sentences fall apart. There are massive pauses. Lots of ums and erms. It is unreadable.

When we speak however, it’s fine. Our listeners compensate. They forgive your diction and allow you to continue with your sentence unmolested.

Unless, you have friends like mine.

Sometimes you are afraid to speak just in case you drop in a spoonerism or a malaprop by mistake. Writers are very unforgiving with your mistakes.

These people seem to be disappointed with my northern accent. As if it bounces off their eardrums and pollutes their ear canals.

I have only one reply for people like this: “Go fuck thissen. And if tha’ can’t reach get thi dad to do it”.


Remember when there was good and bad cholesterol?

Well, it’s all bad now. The doctors have changed their minds. Again. Because they were wrong. Again.

For the last few years they’ve been harping on about how HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is good for you and if it’s high it can balance out the bad LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

Turns out those highly educated doctors who test things out thoroughly haven’t been testing it out as thoroughly as they should.

People are dying prematurely from what they suspect are high levels of HDL cholesterol. Notice the word ‘suspect’ there. They don’t know. They haven’t got a clue.

It’s just part of a long line of guesswork and supposition we’ve come to expect from the people who are so-called ‘experts’.

You’d think after years of examining patients, conducting reams of tests and noticing correlations between results they would have noticed the HDL cholesterol problem.

But no, it seems people were dropping dead for no good reason.  


It turns out a great number of doctors misdiagnose. They prescribe pills for patients who don’t need them, then send people away with no treatment who have cancer.

When they do diagnose someone with cancer they immediately blast them with radiation or chemicals which destroy their immune systems and kills them quicker.

It also turns out that thousands of people die every year because doctors’ handwriting isn’t clear in prescriptions.

Hundreds more people die from addictions to prescription medication – more than heroin addicts.

People ask me why I’m so down on doctors all the time? Mainly because my mother was diagnosed with flu when it turns out she had cancer. Since then I always question doctors.

Don’t accept a doctor’s opinion as gospel. They are quite often wrong.


Exercise more? When?

For the last two weeks I’ve been freelancing in town and it has been great to be back working there, but it does eat through your day.

After all the travelling, spending a day working, getting home, cooking, eating, tidying up, there is little time to do anything else. And that’s just for me.

I can’t begin to imagine how families cope with children. They have all the necessary jobs like washing, cooking, cleaning and still manage to hold down a full-time job, as well.

Then I read in the paper that people must find time to exercise more. Up to 6 times more than they do at the moment.

Oh yes, and you have to make more meals with healthier ingredients too, from scratch.

One question: how does the normal person find time to do all this? The people who put forward these strange ideas obviously don’t live in the real world.

I’m a single bloke who probably works two weeks out of four and even I haven’t got time to do everything –  I do spend an hour every day playing guitar, but that’s necessary.

All these people full of good advice about diet and exercise have never tried to force-feed a struggling kid broccoli when they want fish fingers with chips and ketchup.

These people can go to the gym while the nanny is looking after the children. They can afford for someone else to do all the menial tasks for them while they work out.

So, good advice it may be but it isn’t quite realistic.

And, when it comes to food, ordinary people don’t have the time to make meals from scratch. And fruit and veg ain’t that cheap for people on a small income.

All the people who can afford to do all this will live longer healthier lives. All the people who can’t, will die younger and spend more of their later years being looked after by the state.

Which is what the government wants to avoid. So wouldn’t it make sense to look after them better now?

Roy Askew – revisited

I have talked of my old friend Roy Askew before. A man who would give you the shirt off someone else’s back if you asked him.

A lovely fellow if you knew him. An intimidating and curmudgeonly fellow if you didn’t – I saw bigger men than me reduced to quivering messes under his rheumy gaze.

One lunchtime, of which there were many, we sat in the Northumberland Arms, talked, and watched the world go by over a few refreshing pints of lager.

“Have you ever wanted to get rid of one of those uninvited people who joins your group when you’re out drinking?” He asked.

“All the time.” I said staring at him pointedly.

‘Yeah, fuck off. Well, once, a few of us invented a game we called ‘Mornington Crescent’ for just such a purpose.” He continued ignoring my laugh.

“When they walk up just tell them you’re playing a game and ask if they would like to join in? They invariably say ‘yes’ and then you’ve got them.”

“You tell them it’s a word association game and that we have to all go round in a circle taking it in turns to say a word that links to the last. If it doesn’t link you have to go and stand outside for a count of 100.”

“The poor fellow doesn’t know that the group is all in on the prank and just to be part of the gang, is far too eager to play.”

“So, we all start saying words one after the other, when it comes to the stooge’s turn he says a word hopefully and we all agree he has got the hang of the game, and well done for coming up with such a good answer.”

“We go around the group a few times and he’s loving it. We all say how well he’s doing until we get to the third round of answers. It could be perfectly right but then we all say, ‘oh no, that’s not right. we thought you’d got it. Oh well, outside. Count to a hundred.’

“The fellow walks outside and we all pretend to carry on. That is until he returns then we start again.

“His next answer turns out to be wrong again. Then the next one, and so on. The fellow doesn’t quite understand how he can get things so wrong, after starting out so well.”

“The next time he sees the same gang having a drink together, he doesn’t come over because he is so embarrassed about not being able to play the game right.”

When Roy told me this story I had to laugh. It was a bit of a cruel trick to play on someone who just wanted to be part of the gang but I agree, if they weren’t invited to join the gang, they shouldn’t have butted-in.

Roy Askew died a few years ago but being back in the West End and passing all our old haunts it brings back some happy memories of my old friend.

I don’t know if Roy went to heaven or the other place, but I know for a fact there will be someone standing outside the gates of heaven, or hell, counting to 100 before they are allowed back in.

Rest in Peace, old mate.