MOST of you probably have a subscription to the popular magazine, Personality and Individual Differences (PID), and so will be familiar with the following apocalyptic tale.

It concerns zombies. Aye, thaim. PID reports on a study by American and Danish researchers which shows that folk who enjoy zombie films were better prepared for the somewhat irritating Covid-19 pandemic because they had “mentally rehearsed” for such events.

John Johnson, emeritus professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, said: “After factoring out personality influences, which were actually quite strong, we found that the more movies about zombies, alien invasions and apocalyptic pandemics people had seen prior to Covid-19, the better they dealt with the actual, current pandemic.”

Reading between the lines here, I wondered about the strong “personality influences” under advisement. Put scientifically: were these people nutters? Well, no. Many citizens, some of them responsible and decent, are fans of frightful entertainment. I am not.

Similarly, I do not approve of Nordic Noir because I find the sadistic torture of women – the basic starting point of every single plot – to be deplorable. Many punters, on the other hand, appear to regard it as excellent entertainment.

Perhaps I do such viewers a disservice. They are interested in the sleuthing, the Faroese pullovers, the grim outlook on life.

You have to laugh at newspaper websites with their “Most popular” headings, under which at number 1 is a story of child abduction. Recently, under the rubric “Nostalgia” on one site, I found a fond look back at a horrific mass murderer. Yes, these were the days.

It doesn’t mean the people reading these stories liked them and got a warm glow from reading about them. But, in the world of fiction, they do. Of the more traditional horror genre – zombies, vampires and other misfits – I do understand that viewers like to experience a frisson of fear from the safe, warm comfort of their sofa. But I do not approve of this. I don’t want to sound a controversial note, but I am against fear.

The premise behind the zombie report is that fiction can prepare folk for the ghastly real world. I don’t buy this. I have read The Lord of the Rings many times and, if anything, it seems to make me more out of step with the real world than ever. At the supermarket, I have even found people tittering at my cloak.

Some folk believe that zombies do actually exist, but there is no scientific proof for this beyond people who still vote Labour. Zombies are a figment of the imagination.

Aliens on the other hand: that’s different. I was discomfited to find those of us who enjoy a good alien invasion film being lumped in with the zombie brigade.

Alien invasion: I am mentally prepared for that. My plan is to surrender immediately and take them to our leaders, who had better have their excuses ready.

Was I prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic? Och, pretty much. Not because of watching films but because half my life is spent rolling my eyes, tutting and saying “typical”. I have low expectations of human existence (pointless) and the planet Earth (rubbish).

However, on the whole, I prefer to be alive than dead. To that extent, I can agree with a summary of my current state as being undead.

Life’s too shorts

THE decline in standards of a society can be measured exactly in trouser length. The shorter the trousers the more degenerate the morés.

By the same token, if the trousers stretch beyond the toes, that is a sign that a society has become too decent. There are no instances of this in human history, even including Britain in the 1950s.

Shorts per se should never be worn outwith the sports field or, arguably, the beach, where long trousers would still distinguish the gentleman from the hoi polloi. Indeed, it’s a good rule in life never to trust a man in shorts. If he is wearing them in winter, to make some vanity-driven point, you should alert a constable.

Remain at the scene, in case you’re required as a witness at subsequent court proceedings revolving around a charge of breaching human decency.

Unfortunately, a judge at an employment tribunal in Manchester has ruled that men should be allowed to wear shorts at work if women can. A warehouse worker had complained of sex discrimination after he was pulled up for wearing three-quarter length trousers on a hot day.

He claimed female employees had been allowed free rein, with one wearing “cycling shorts just above the knee”. Others wore leggings and, it says here, “skirts with opaque tights”. I cannot even picture such things. But I’ve no doubt they’re disgraceful.

The judge should have ruled that nobody, male or female, is allowed to wear shorts at work. They detract from the dignity of labour. They encourage slovenly service.

Shorts are a gateway drug to indecency. Recently, the mayor of Antwerp was caught giving an online interview while wearing no trousers at all. Covid-19 is no excuse for such a shocking decline in standards. For, once the trousers are off, anarchy is sure to follow.

What’s in store for our shops?

NEARLY half of all non-food purchases last month were made over yonder internet. Who’s responsible for this?

Why, we are! We’re all at it. Internet shopping has been a boon in particular to country folks, who no longer make long round-trips to urban emporia and come away empty-handed.

But there’s a Catch-22 here. We don’t want our shops to go. Recently, I re-watched Breakfast At Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn as a dreamy gal who loves a high-end department store.

You could almost get the same feeling at Jenner’s in Edinburgh and John Lewis, and it would be a crying shame if they ever closed.

That said, I hadn’t been in Jenner’s for years, even when I lived in Edinburgh, and John Lewis has gone awry. Foot traffic on high streets last week was down 70 per cent compared to last year. Covid-19 restrictions must have caused much of that.

But imagine a world without high streets, where we’re all stuck in the hoose. We’ll become more atomised, possibly even more doolally. It’s a worrying time for the human race. But, then, every single moment in human history has been worrying.

Easy meat

AND the lion shall lie down with the lamb. Well, nearly. It’s coming yet.

YouTube has amazing instances of fierce and docile beasts cuddling up. It’s way beyond dogs and cats, who used to be mortal enemies. You can see dogs and foxes, even cats and birds. You can find a lion indulging a baby deer (which usually gets eaten, mind you, when a less woke lion turns up).

I’m not minimising the horror of a cruel natural world conceived by a psychotic deity. YouTube tried recently to make me watch film of a sparrowhawk eating fledgling robins.

But things can only get better, particularly when animals have full stomachs. Finnish researchers say wolves became friendly dogs after we fed them our excess meat. Today, you never see dogs fighting any more because they get proper tinned food at regular meal times.

Love and philosophy require full stomachs. If we were starving, we’d kill and eat every puppy and kitten within range. But when we are fed we are kind.

And, when all the world’s meat comes from laboratories, yea and verily, the lion shall lie down with the lamb.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.