Monday 12 November 2012

Craving common sense

Yesterday, long before the eleventh hour, at which the majority of the nation - the exceptions being some juvenile idiots and some contemptuous Islamists - observed the time-honoured two-minutes of silent contemplation of the only true 'ultimate sacrifice', I encountered an article about sugar addiction.

Alice Smellie [yes, I know!] says she used to consume six stones of the stuff a year, admittedly not by direct addition but by ignorance of how much sugar is hidden in everyday food and drink. Okay, we all eat too much sugar, but 'addicted'? Come on! She claims withdrawal symptoms ensued after she regulated her intake, but then homeopaths claim their remedies - and not just the placebo effect - can cure cancer!

Disengagement from habitual over-indulgence in pretty much anything will cause withdrawal symptoms. Teenagers get bored when their ration of mind-numbing computer time-wasting comes to an end. Parents get hangovers the day after they've had a couple 'to take the edge off'. The news media are going to have one hell of a jolt back to reality when all the millions of prowling paedophiles have been finally rounded up. But, addiction?

I'm not knocking what Alice has done; far from it. I know we eat way too much added, processed sugar. But I'm buggered if I'm going to stand idly by and let yet another 'addiction' enter the national consciousness. How long before some doctor, somewhere, writes a sick note for sugar addiction withdrawal, prescribes diet Coke and bed rest and spawns a whole new avenue for skiving off and claiming disability?

When it comes down to it, true addiction is rare and what most people imagine as addiction is nothing, more or less, than lacking the will power (or inclination) to give something up. From chocolate, to cigarettes, from coffee to alcohol, from gaming to gambling and from pain-killers to heroin, we use and sometimes abuse; because we can, because it gives us pleasure and because, in the main, it doesn't do a great deal of harm.

But once we recognise we have a habit we are reluctant to eschew, we all too readily rely on 'the guvmint' to do something about our habit. Calling it an addiction legitimises what may otherwise be shameful. Use the word 'addict' and suddenly it's not your fault any more; you're a helpless victim of a cruel and uninvited assault on your feeble body and mind, powerless to resist without plenty of soothing public money to dress your wounds.

Maybe the sign of real addiction is denial. The people in trouble who do need help are those who don't ask for it, - not those who embrace it as an excuse. For the record I am NOT addicted to Twitter!


  1. I found your blog today:I read through quite a few previous posts too and I came to the conclusion that you appear to be a merciless,pitiless person. With all your rage against people who are struggling in life ( I KNOW some of them are takers),the mentally fragile, victims of child abusers, women, I came to the conclusion that it is YOU who feel the self pity you so readily scorn, with continued complaints about having to work. Most of us do work: it has to do with self-respect and necessity-- but we don't make martyrs of ourselves. It makes me sad to read your blog so(as you will probably tell me) I won't do it again. Is this what the potential greatness of being human, with the power to love ,to care, to show mercy, to understand each other's pain,to give support,to THIS what it is reduced to? I expect you will reply to this with your usual rapier sarcasm but it won't make you right, however "clever" you are.

    1. You know me so well! :-)

    2. No, I don't "know" you at all--maybe you mean to be sarcastic? But I tend to take people at face value until I know better.... I can only form any view from what you write. I presume you are giving an accurate account of your ideas and feelings? I would prefer to like you but you make it so difficult. I don't mind that human beings will inevitably have failings and weaknesses(including myself): after all isn't that the very nature of being human? But I find unkindness really difficult.

    3. And yet I find it so easy. Maybe yin and yang DO exist? Meh, who cares? (Clue: Not me.)

  2. Dear Moira, for many years I too did not understand that I didn't really have a sense of humour. It's a cold, empty way to view an unforgiving world and the worst of it is that those who do suffer from this affliction never understand what they're missing. But, look on the good side; sooner or later we all die and are mercifully cured forever. If you can't laugh at yourself the next best thing is to point and laugh at and ridicule those less fortunate and thus less worthy than yourself. Works for me.

  3. Mr B., I think that perhaps you may have just found youself your new "Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport, Women and Equalities"

  4. Dear Mr B., Having just returned from the States I thought that I'd miss meeting people who have no concept of irony or sarcasm but....lo and behold, up pops Moira. Moira, with her "chippiness" and awful grammar aims her angst at the author and not the content of the blog. "Way to go girl!" As they say Stateside.
    Keep on doing that which you do so well Mr.B. .....making us think.