Are you one of the rising numbers of the “worried well?” In the old days you would be called a hypochondriac ---- and avoided at all costs because you were a whingeing, self- pitying bore. Nowadays sickness is the new rock n roll, it's sexy to be sick, hip to be hospitalized, cool to be “crook,” popping to be poorly, indeed many people appear to be mad-for-a-malady.

The reason why I come to this conclusion is that in a recently published report up to 20% of us now surf-the-web for information on illnesses and ailments before we go to see our doctor. In fact Dr Google is very much in demand nowadays as he is consulted constantly by the “worried well” every time they feel a twinge or pass an unsatisfactory stool.

If I were a proper doctor I think I would resent the fact that a patient upon entering your surgery gave you a full run-down of symptoms and potential courses of treatment. It's not funny you know, ---- being second guessed by a hypochondriac with a lap-top and a vivid imagination. I bet doctors get together and ban certain patients from their surgeries, it is quite weird but some people seem to want to be ill, not with some common-or-garden cough or sniffle, something exotic but non life threatening will usually do nicely.

ON the subject of illness, real or imagined, there is an old saying that says “You are what you eat.” Interestingly, if you have an obsession with eating healthily this could in fact be bad for your health. Take for instance some people who will only eat certain types of “food groups,” they have been labeled by doctors as suffering from orthorexia nervosa, or an unhealthy desire to eat only certain foods. Believe it or not there are seemingly sane people out there who will only eat food if it is coloured yellow; I would have thought that to be a little tricky as I reckon you could only consume custard or corn-on-the-cob and perhaps a banana for pudding. It might be me but I would have thought that would get a tad boring after a while.

Celebrities are always doing these sorts of things, do you remember a few years ago when Geri Halliwell almost disappeared, she was said to be existing on a diet of lettuce leaves and spring water. I blame the legions of unqualified and unregistered “naturopaths” gym instructors and loony-tunes out there who know next to nothing about diet or medicine but climb aboard every passing food fad or fancy that comes along.

Why is it that people who are obsessed by food so bloody boring? I was chomping my way though a splendid hamburger a few years ago in a taxi queue, I swaying gently in the breeze as my pal and I were celebrating the imminent conception of his first child when a fierce lady behind informed me that my hamburger was both “disgusting” and in due course would certainly kill me.

I thanked her for interest in my welfare and popped the said burger into her handbag. I seem to remember the arrival of a large policeman and after that it is still a complete blank. Anyway, you can understand my natural aversion to healthy food after that unfortunate incident can't you?

Back to proper medicine, --- I really feel sorry for doctors on one hand you have bloody know-it-all patients telling them how to do their jobs after “Googleing” the word hemorrhoid into their computer.

Then they have to suffer the “worried well” in search of a disease they can show off to their friends. Occasionally, just occasionally, it must be nice to treat a sick person.

DON´T PANIC! THE Swine Flu pandemic is quite rightly a cause for concern around the world. However I must say I rather like the reaction of the Spanish health authorities, after all a shrug and pursed lips is action of a sort, --- rather that than the semi-hysterical over-reaction of the British medical establishment and the media. Isn't Sir Liam Donaldson, Britain's top quack, the cove who predicted that Bird Flu would kill hundreds of thousands in UK?

When I saw him recently being interviewed by a concerned looking Kay Burley, (she has that concerned look of hers off to a T) the cheeky bugger spoke to the camera as if his audience were slightly stupid eight year olds. “Don't panic” he urged, -- this coming from Corporal Jones himself, unhappily as I tend to do on these occasions I swore violently and shook my fist at the TV, ---only to be caught mid-rant by the lovely lady who suggested I sought professional help as clearly I had some mental health issues. Hey, that would be good wouldn't it?

I mentioned the word boring earlier, and what I am going to suggest typifies that much maligned word. My mother-in-law who is eighty years old has never been in hospital in her life; hard to believe but true. She recommends, --- wait for it, -- moderation in all things, --that is apart from a bottle of Gin a day, what a woman!

HAS anyone, or any organisation, got the foggiest idea how many tourists are on the island and furthermore know within a percentage point or two how many we should be expecting before the end of the season? I only ask this slightly sarcastic question because every day we have wildly conflicting figures placed before us and I just wonder if it might be a good idea if we all knew. Surely if you have a problem you need accurate figures to begin the process of putting the problem right. Maybe it is to some people's benefit that straight forward figures are always masked in a fog of uncertainty, however I can tell you this, if tourism is down just 4% this season I will eat my cricket bat.

It's the same with hotel occupancy rates, -- 40%, or 85% I have heard both figures quoted and the truth is probably between the two. But why do we have this constant flow of figures that bear no reality to the realities on the ground, are Balearic statisticians crap at their jobs or are they sometimes told to tell us fibs? It surely has to be one-thing-or-the-other and I think you might have guessed by now what I think!


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