Is something happening to my brain, I wonder?
It’s not the onset of Alzheimer’s, I’m sure, but could it be something almost as insidious – like turning into a Daily Mail reader?
Some of my friends would say there’s little difference between the two, and that the one leads almost inexorably to the other. First, they say, one starts secretly agreeing with Mail editorials; then one begins to read them, approvingly, out loud over the breakfast table; and then one is moved to start writing outraged letters to the editor. After that, the brain cells crumble away at an ever accelerating rate until one wakes up one morning to realise one is being spoon-fed by a carer while watching Big Brother highlights on television.
I’m told the symptoms are worryingly familiar. Having spent an adult lifetime embracing open and usually unimpeachable liberal attitudes in all matters, social, political and economic, I found myself last week adopting an increasingly conservative and intolerant stance as the news headlines on the state of the nation descend from appalling to worse.
During the recent riots in England, my liberalism took one helluva hammering. Having started off wondering where society had gone wrong in producing such wretched creatures as the adolescent looters and arsonists seen nightly on television, I ended up, after a week of such mayhem, wondering why I’d ever bothered to wonder. I didn’t go so far as supporting a return of hanging, or even flogging, but unusually stiff prison terms didn’t sound too draconian, and a few retributive whackings administered on the spot by the police didn’t seem too harsh a form of justice.
Luckily, as the riots subsided, and the final test match of the summer got underway at the Oval, a sense of proportion gradually returned.
All is not lost! England has a splendid cricket team and is once more giving the poor Indians a proper stuffing. Even the rain-out of most of the first day’s play – for which, naturally, I had a ticket – didn’t dampen the spirit. As for the rioters, well, we shall have to give the matter further considerable thought. Blah, blah, blah.
I’ve had due warning, though, not to feed that worm, or whatever it is inside the brain that munches away at the precious cells as the years roll by. I take a statin for my cholesterol. Is there an equivalent for that munching worm?
I think I’ll call my newsagent tomorrow and switch the Daily Telegraph to The Guardian. When it comes to mental health, you just can’t be too careful.