“The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.
If nothing is done, then all will be well.”
TAO TE CHING by LAO TZU
Obesity does not kill. I am 10 stone overweight, I have shrunk to five foot six and at 82 I continue to confound the medical profession. Diabetes under control, alcoholism a distant but happy memory, liver recovered. Couldn’t wait to tell the doctor my glad tidings.
“Old news,” he told me. “Recent research has shown us there is no relation of obesity to mortality.”
Sometimes I think doctors enjoy watching us suffer on endless diets and denials.
That at the end of another Week Dolorous in which no orifice remained unplumbed.This picture is more a motorway map than portrait. The medical profession is at its happiest snapping away at my innards in pursuit of cancer camps. Now they have a new and thrilling quest: the Mystery of the Missing Blood, about an armful on the Hancock Scale. Wielding an intrusive camera, Dr Bloodhound left no bowel cranny unturned this week. What used to be my colon is now busier – and as often photographed - as the road from Benghazi to Tripoli.
And all this in the week when my rival the M25 had its 25th birthday.
Eager pharmaceutical paparazzi have once again photographed my every available tubular wall and some I had always hoped were unavailable. But no. They seek blood here, they seek blood there, those cameras seek blood everywhere. And that is not the worst of it. Ownership of a colonoscopy adds a fresh dimension of horror to the pre-op purging.
Nothing more to do but lie back and think of England. As so often at times of stress I went scurrying to the past. In this case to the Beaumaris Festival, my favourite time in my favourite town, where every year I interviewed the stars before a lovely audience.
So many golden memories. Asking the opera giant Geraint Evans how he got the ideas for his splendid make ups and being told, “If I had known you when I was preparing Falstaff I would have modelled him on you.” And then shortly afterwards getting a photo inscribed “From One Falstaff to Another”.
Telling the glamorous pianist Moura Lympany I had fallen love with her as a child because during austerity wartime she had worn such glamorous frocks. “Made out of second hand curtains,” she confessed. So I had fallen in love with soft furnishings, I told her, which amused her so much she invited my wife and me to stay with her in Rasigueres in the South of France. Alas, the proposed biography did not come off.
I usually insisted on one to one interviews but on one occasion I agreed to interview four. Alas that meant I only had time for a brief chat with soprano Rebecca Evans of whom I am a slavish admirer. She was still nursing in a South Wales hospital and singing in off duty moments and she too confessed she had made her own frock.
I have the fondest memories of Tito Beltran, a thoroughly nice man and supremely talented. Pursued by women who were to become his downfall. One persuaded a court in Sweden she had not consented to love making. Tito, the gentlest and most courteous of men, was sentenced to a term in gaol I am convinced he did not deserve.
Meanwhile back at the Blood Letting - or to put it more accurately Veins to Let - Dr Bloodhound is forced to admit failure. Intestine, intestine everywhere but not a drop to drink for eager vampires.
Dr Bloodhound is not beaten yet. He is sending me to another branch of the questing camera. This time in Kettering, where more of the Bloodhound pack has got a tiny camera housed in a capsule which I swallow. It enables them to draw coverts as yet undrawn in body parts unhunted. Truly a blood sport but as yet no word on how they are going to retrieve their camera. I don’t like the idea of it endlessly questing like some tireless vein vole.
Tycoons’ salaries have leapt up 50 per cent and are rightly condemned by politicians who are refusing to increase their contribution to their own over-generous pensions.