NOW they’re saying you should be skateboarding, particularly if you’re depressed. I’ve always taken the view that, given the state of the world, if you’re not depressed there’s something wrong with you.

Be that as it may, a study by the University of Exeter claims that skateboarding provides a boost to the wellbeing and happiness of middle-aged people, with some older respondents even saying the essentially pointless activity had “spiritual meaning”. I see.

Apparently, it helps with relationship breakdown, career challenges, parenthood and substance abuse. But I don’t have any of these. Not right now anyway. And I’ve never insulted any substance.

I don’t even know where you go to skateboard. Are there special gymnasia? Can you just do it in the house? And what do you wear? I’ve seen pictures of youths in backward baseball caps and unpleasant trousers. But I don’t have any of these. All my baseball caps face forwards.

Would I look out of place in a tweed jacket and flannel trousers? Must I lose the cravat? I fear folk would titter. Well, they do already.

Oh dear, this is just something else to get me down. It comes in the wake of reports about a Scottish tourist organisation urging folk to go into wild places with snorkels, scuba diving equipment, portable hot tubs and mountain bikes. Oh Gawd. Why can’t they leave nature alone? Why do we always have to take some toy along with us?

I can’t abide all this “leisure amenity” use of nature. Just be in nature. Just stand there. Look. Listen. Walk if you absolutely must. Never take any equipment beyond an anorak, a woolly hat and, if you’re inclined toward hedonistic excess, a book of poetry.

Never trust any practice that requires equipment, folks. You read that here first. And you’re unlikely to read it anywhere else.

I’ve long suspected this purchasing of equipment to be part of the thrill of these hobbies or, in the case of cycling, crimes. “Oh yes, you’ll need a Lycra thong and a set of goggles, mate.” Such a lot of nonsense.

All right, in the sea I admit you’d probably benefit from a pair of water wings and a kayak. Nothing against these, as long as the place doesn’t get too crowded. But people carrying toys, or on wheels, should be banned from the countryside. They’re a thundering nuisance to decent ratepayers and wildlife alike.

As for these well-meaning organisations, they’re humanising the wild when they should be wilding the humans. Don’t speak to me about “spiritual meaning”. This news just in (literally): spiritual peace comes from inside your heid, not from external gewgaws purchased on Amazon.

You’re not going to be listening to the wind or watching the clouds if you’re ascending a hillock in a snorkel or barrelling along on a mountain bike, scaring away every bird and beastie in the vicinity.

They’ll be telling us next we should be skateboarding in the Cairngorms. Enough toys already. If you’ve a pair of feet about your person, that should be enough.

Cannibals to that

AFTER giving the matter some considerable thought, I have decided against starting a new life on Mars. Much though I dislike it here on so-called Earth, the Red Planet sounds even worse.

Reports this week suggested that travelling to Mars, or indeed anywhere in ooter space, could speed up the ageing process, which I feel has been going quite fast enough recently, thank you very much. Already, as we age, we experience cell senescence. The microscopic nuclei – ken? – enter a state of torpor and have accordingly been dubbed “zombie cells”. That’s why bruises and injuries, of the sort frequently incurred in journalism, take forever to heal.

But going into ooter space, with its rubbish gravity, not to mention the high G-force when a rocket takes off, reportedly accelerates this process.

That’s the first problem. The second problem is the prospect of cannibalism. Here’s Charles Cockell, professor of astrobiology at Embra Uni: “Even with the best technology, isolated human communities can degenerate very quickly.

“If things start going wrong and the plant growth module breaks down, they are going to eat each other if there is no other way to survive.”

Yep. You can escape the Earth, but you cannot escape the Earthlings. Early Martian communities are bound to fall prey to alpha male jousting, office politics, and folk falling out over rumpy and, in some cases, pumpy. The game, as no space scientist said ever, is a bogey.

In the meantime, we must just deal with the horrible feeling of being stuck here, as the weapons get larger, the weather gets hotter, and the prevalence of loony beliefs grows ever greater.

I won’t leave you on a grim note, though. It was also reported this week that a hangover-free booze is on the cusp of being developed. The football should be back in a couple of weeks. And while contagion will always be with us, it’s getting weaker. Yay. Make the best of it here on Earth, folks. Keep your feet firmly on the ground. Never let gravity get you down.

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