Monday, 3 August 2009

Here's to your health, Fleming and Hassan

‘If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life.'

So said Sir Alexander Fleming, who obviously watched too many zombie films with a bottle of Oloroso by his side.

But he’s got a point. While medicine can cure us of our ailments, science can tell us how to avoid getting ill, and doctors can strive hard to keep us going while we fall apart, we insist on attempting to adapt the functioning of our mortal coil. Some of us inhale smoke, some of us go vegan, some of us shove silicone under our mammary glands, some of us want biceps like Arnie, some of us pump a gram of class I opiates into our bloodstream.

The thing is: we’re a social and metaphysical beast. Our interaction with other humans causes us to be unhappy with our condition, or to want to alter it slightly/greatly. Imagine if we were to ignore our desires and do what the doctors say.

In the Ridley Scott film Black Hawk Down, Abdullah Hassan, a Somali militiaman, talks to downed helicopter pilot Michael Durant and offers him a cigarette. Durant declines and Hassan says this:

‘You Americans don't smoke anymore. You live long, dull and uninteresting lives.'

Now, I understand that science has told us to disinfect our wounds, boil water before drinking it, told us wine is both good and bad for us, depending on the wind, and it’s told us that we can’t fly, and we’ll hurt ourselves if we try to.

Sometimes, though, we want to fly.

And can we please stop all these bloody ridiculous wine and health stories. Let’s all drink wine moderately, enjoy it, and leave it at that. Even the wine industry banging on about how good wine is for you, latching onto every single positive story and ignoring the rest, is getting on my (unaltered) tits. We’ve got far more pressing concerns. Like zombies.

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