My family has caught health

WE live in a leisure age.

Now that the western world is reasonably well off and has its weekends to itself, most people take up a hobby. They buy a jet ski, or they go fishing, or they take up painting.

My family has taken up health. I thought health was something that happened by accident, while you were getting on with other stuff. But no… it’s a leisure industry.

Yoga is a pathway to health; acupuncture is a pathway to health; Chinese herbal medicine and feng shui are pathways to health. Even Ayurveda is a pathway to health.

Never heard of Ayurveda? I thought it was one of those native creatures with a pouch, but no, it’s an Indian method of achieving physical and mental wellbeing.

And that’s another thing. It’s not enough any more for a health regime to make you physically healthy – it has to make you mentally healthy, too!

How are you supposed to know when you’re mentally healthy! I always feel pretty good after a few beers, but the next morning is a different story.

I ought to have the healthiest family in the world – but I don’t. I have just come away from a night nursing these health fanatics through a stomach bug (you will recall I no longer live with paragons of fitness and wellbeing, being no fun to live with). I’ll spare you the bug details but if they’d been throwing up in oil paints Pro Hart would have had some serious competition.

I suggested to them that the state of their health at that moment was not a good advertisement for the myriad health regimes they have adopted.

“That’s got nothing to do with it,” said my daughter, whose voice had that resonant echo that comes with being buried in the confines of a toilet pan.

Her latest idea is acupuncture. She is on the way to having more puncture wounds in her body than a heroin addict, but it’s all helping to make her feel better, not counting last night’s galloping trots.

My wife has a cupboard full of creams, ointments, tinctures, oils and juices that all have one thing in common (besides being terribly good for you) – they are made from stuff that grows without a pulse.

It doesn’t matter that it smells like a camel’s armpit. Indeed, if it smells like a camel’s armpit I suspect that’s considered a good thing. We all know it’s the disgusting things that are good for us, and the yummy stuff that’s going to kill us. Compare sex and chocolate with colonic irrigation and castor oil.

One of my other daughters is growing healthier by bending her body until her toe’s in her ear. I asked if it had to be a toe, or whether a carrot, or a plum would do instead, and she told me to go away.

And the youngest has caught Ayurveda. I haven’t caught up with all the details yet, but I know it involves eating rice, and examining your tongue in a mirror.

Do I sound sceptical? Cynical, even?

Well I would, wouldn’t I, when their hobby has ended up with me spending the night listening to the guttural agonies of their technicolour yawns?

And what makes it particularly galling is that when it’s all over they’ll compare notes on how lightly they escaped because they’re all so healthy. “Thank goodness for herbal medicine otherwise I might have died,”… that sort of thing.

The dawn has come. The sounds of sickness are abating. I shall leave before the chanting starts.