Monday, March 11, 2013

Don't panic? On the contrary. It's recommended that you do.

When I was suffering from depression and anxiety a little while back, I attended a Stress management course held at our local library. Ignoring the fact that getting a place on this course was one of the most stressful things I've ever had to do (and that they kept changing the room it was held in randomly any given week, almost transforming attendance into some game of Crystal Maze designed for socially awkward neurotics) one of the things I took away from this course was that we all need a certain level of stress in our lives, because it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us up and about doing things – but this level of stress needs to be managed and within tolerable levels.

It’s when we’re running constantly at an unmanageable level of stress that we start to encounter problems – high blood pressure, anxiety and heart attacks, running naked around the aisles in Waitrose hitting strangers with baguettes, etc.

On the date of writing this – the 11th of March – the genius satirist Douglas Adams, had he not died of a heart attack in 2001, would have been 61 today. In the Hitch-hikers series of books, he came up with a slogan that isn't just infinitely fucking preferable and succinct than the “keep calm and..” bollocks - but one that could also easily replace 80% of self-help text books overnight, resulting in that section of Waterstones being considerably smaller and therefore leaving more space for the bizarrely increasingly important “Supernatural romance” and “Tragic lives” demographic.

The phrase was simple – “Don’t panic”.

Back in 1978 when the Hitchhikers Guide and this phrase were coined, this was considerably easier. It’s a scientific fact that I’ve spent literally minutes researching that the only things to worry about back then were occasional power cuts, strikes, the chosen milkshake flavour choice of Alberto Frog for any given week, refuse piling up in the streets, the economy tanking and the eternal need/got conundrum of a Kenny Dalglish Panini football sticker swap.

If you don't pay attention to this sign, Donald Pleasance
will dress up as the Grim Reaper and scare the
living shit out of you. I kid you not.
Kids could be left unsupervised to roam the streets safe in the knowledge that they had adequate road safety knowledge (courtesy of Tufty and the Green Cross Code Man), wouldn't play around either silage pits, electricity pylons or shallow ponds (courtesy of dozens of nightmarish Public Information films) and the reassuring fact that paedophiles wouldn't be invented until the mid-eighties*

Those were the days when information travelled slowly - the halcyon days before 24 hour rolling news and not believing anything until it appeared on the BBC website. It’s established scientific fact that if you’re famous you can’t officially be declared dead until brain activity has ceased and an obituary has popped in on the ‘entertainment’ page of BBC news. The Eeyore (eey) scale is a universally accepted scientific measurement of the speed of worrying news and the time it takes for it to become common knowledge. Back in 1978, the global eey count was a mere 0.86 but now at the time of writing on March 2013 it’s a staggering 179.82.

To put that into context, the 1978 score is equivalent to nine people lying in bed simultaneously worrying about whether they've switched the heating off whereas the 2013 score represents more than 860,000 people who have just caught the train simultaneously worrying about whether they've switched the gas off. Think on that for a moment.

You're destined to die in a nuclear apocalypse when Kim (Wrongun) Jong-un decides he CAN do one better than his dad, provided you haven't been killed already by an asteroid skimming the top of your skull in a near miss.

Don't panic.

Every single piece of food you've eaten over the past eight or so years has been entirely horse, even the salad - which turned out to be finest horse painstakingly cut, painted and moulded into vegetable shapes.

Don't panic.

You'll end up dying from an infection - not from the infection itself but from the antibiotics you took to treat it, which have ended up evolving into a intelligent life-form that resents you and everything you stand for.

Don't panic.

I'm just off to Waitrose to get some bread. Happy birthday, Douglas.

* - ignoring the 'Savile anomoly'.

1 comment:

  1. I miss Douglas. I did panic for a short while after his death. But I realised he wouldnt like it, so I became depressed. No more panic for me.


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