Prigs Might Fly

Discontented with denuding soft drinks of the sugar which makes them pleasurable, health tsars here in Great Britain propose something rather more exquisitely demented than their usual fare.

The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper for people who wear mustard corduroys and those with endearing eccentricities, asks: “The public wants more done to improve health and wellbeing – so why isn’t the government acting?”

First, there are a few problems with this little assertion. Any newspaper employing the hyphen in place of the em dash employs far too many Millennials than are decent or civilized and has lower standards than a dating app for lepers.

Second, “the public wants…” and “why isn’t the government acting . . . ” are two phrases when aligned in a sentence that lead always to show trials, gulags, mass murder, and forcible consumption of falafel and/or cold soup.

“Addressing smoking, poor diet, and harmful alcohol use not only improves an individual’s health and wellbeing but drives economic growth,” the story goes on.

The British middle classes read with religious devotion the Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph’s older readers, reassuringly hostile to this kind of puritanism, are at war with the newspaper’s Millennial contingent who’ve never seen a meddlesome measure they didn’t like, or literally think was actually a vibe.

Or something.

You can tell the popularity of an idea and the confidence of the writer espousing it by whether or not they permit comments below the article.

Whenever I read something particularly demented, I notice comments are forbidden. So confident is the writer in her assertions, deploying the despotic “we” when she means “me,” she dares not subject her “majority opinion” to the opinions of the majority.

The authors claim membership in an organization with a name so sanitized it cannot be anything but utterly sinister: The Health Foundation.

Helpfully, the authors lay out exactly what improving one’s health, and well-being would entail: “Since Steve Barclay took over as health secretary in October last year, he has continued the recent government trend of unwinding public health policy. The tobacco control plan remains unpublished, restrictions on junk food advertising have been delayed, and plans for a national approach to tackling health inequalities have been dropped, with focus instead turned to a major conditions and disease strategy.”

Curiously, the authors would much rather the government spend its time meddling in the lives of taxpayers rather than concentrate on “major conditions and diseases.”

If these nosey parkers had their way, they’d record and regulate, praise and punish, monitor and meddle with one’s entire life—all in pursuit of a colorless utopia. I’ve seen this film before.

According to the Collins English Dictionary, well-being is defined as ‘the condition of being healthy, contented, or successful.’

(For the Gen Zs reading, I’ll translate in your native Adverb English: Basically, a dictionary is literally like a massive book with, like, words in it. Honestly? Yes, like, actually.)

The article claims that three-quarters of Brits want the government to do more about other Brits who smoke, drink, and dare sink their Hampsteads into a sumptuous slab of fried chicken.

Now, I don’t know about you, reader, but my well-being depends upon a few sensual pursuits.

Without an hourly infusion of nicotine, my less-than-beachy demeanor treks to the borders of the unhinged. Without a daily dose of alcohol, my well-being sinks through the floorboards and into Dante’s third circle. For that reason, I’ve endured around three dry days since I evacuated my father’s testicles.

I can only imagine life under the yoke of such do-gooders.

According to their parameters of acceptable indulgence, I could live a life of well-being and good health, provided I die within five to seven business days.

Limited to one cigarette per day, half a glass of red wine per week, and a ribbon of ribeye per month, your faithful narrator would take the next flight to Switzerland and book himself into Dignitas—a clinic in which one drinks a funny-tasting concoction and drifts off to the big sleep.

I’d rather that than surrender to the prigs and the puritans. A world in which the hall monitors have won the final victory over everyone else. A world in which falafel is considered edible.

Perhaps I have one of those personalities on which advertising and propaganda have no effect. This kind of furtive fascism drives me toward militant wankery.

As I write, the clock says it’s two minutes to respectable (11:58 a.m.). I’ve poured a glass of Portuguese red blend.

The great writer and bon vivant Jim Harrison loved wine so much that he often finished a bottle in around half an hour.

In the interests of civilization, I recently finished a bottle in 32 minutes. Like Usain Bolt, I slowed down in triumph at the end.

What happened? Such an indulgence improved my health and well-being and drove economic growth.

Or something.

I heartily recommend you try it sometime.

Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared originally at Christopher Gage’s Substack, “Oxford Sour.” Click here to subscribe.

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About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist and a founding member of the Gentlemen of the Swig. Subscribe to his Substack, "Oxford Sour."

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