Tuesday 24 March 2009

Bring on the sabre-toothed tigers

It is amazing how swiftly things can move. One minute Obama is being hailed as the shining hope of all humanity. Then he makes a dubious crack about the Special Olympics and half the commentariat spot that he was a flawed Blair clone all along.

I hesitate to point out that I told you so.

Then there are Messrs Corden & Horne, the new Morecambe & Wise, basking in unadulterated critical acclaim until they released their new film about lesbian vampires. Overnight their double act is universally acknowledged to be rather less hilarious than Brown & Darling.

Compared with these and other cataclysmic changes of fortune in recent months, my own turnaround has been positively glacial: a figure of speech that may well need revisiting in the light of recent predictions about the swift disappearance of the ice caps. Like climate change, mine is by no means all bad news. I have finally found the perfect partner I long despaired of ever tracking down, while nasty skiing accidents will become a thing of the past when there is no more snow.

But there is a downside. For the planet, the death of perhaps seven billion people in circumstances that will make every previous war, famine, plague and natural disaster look like a vicarage tea party. And for me, a hideous reversal of the weight loss about which I was crowing a year ago as I coasted to an easy victory over Tom Gutteridge in the great columnar weight loss challenge.

Recalling how difficult it was to shed the 21lb I lost then, I am appalled that I have allowed 12lb of it to regroup around my waistline. With hindsight, I made two fatal mistakes. One was not to consign my old, “fat” clothes to the bin as soon as they became too loose for me, thinking that I would postpone the acquisition of a new wardrobe until I had lost the further 21lb that was my no doubt unrealistic target.

The other was to acquire the same enviable handicap as Tom: a beautiful woman who expects to share an evening meal with me. Bang went my days of enjoying the classic PR man or journalist’s large and boozy lunch, and compensating with just a piece of fruit and a nice glass of water in the evening. Incidentally, when I started working in the City 30 years ago, every banker I knew was happily sozzled by 2p.m. and spent the afternoon snoozing at his desk. Keep them sober, send them to the gym instead of the pub and they come up with sub-prime lending and the credit crunch. There must surely be a lesson there somewhere.

Apparently one of the hot fads of the moment is the Paleolithic or Caveman Diet. Cut out grains, beans, potatoes, dairy products and sugar, and focus on the meat and fruits our ancient forebears hunted and gathered. Ideally, in the Warrior variant, guzzle the lot in just one big evening meal a day, as Stone Age man did after killing his prey.

The proponents of the plan argue that primitive man enjoyed perfect health, overlooking the fact that he was considered a bit of a wonder if he made it past the age of 30.

Nevertheless, I think I shall give it a go. But to create the ideal conditions for success, we surely also require the splendid incentives for exercise enjoyed in the distant past. Which means introducing more and fiercer species of predator to the British Isles. Why stop at bringing back wolves? With the massive progress now being made in DNA recovery and cloning techniques, surely we could really put the North East on the map by setting sabre-toothed tigers and velociraptors loose in the Cheviots? It will be amazing how swiftly I can move with one of those behind me.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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