Your average human body contains a ridiculous number of atoms – 7 billion, billion, billion to be exact – and 99% of those atoms belong to the chemical elements Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O), the remaining 1% being micro-stuff that doesn’t really show up on the radar. I’m guessing, in my particular case, that roughly a billion of those billions of atoms make up Anxiety or (He Lp!), to give it its correct chemical symbol – the one I just made up.
Alas, the scientific community, in its woeful ignorance, does not classify Anxiety (He Lp!) as an element, going with the popular consensus that it’s more a state of mind and, therefore, does not include it in the Periodic Table, which currently ends with Ununoctium (Uuo), atomic number 118. (Uuo) is an atomic particle which is absolutely useless to anybody, outside of obscure scientific research. Indeed, it’s so useless they had to name it after its atomic number – Un=1, un=1, octium=8, leading to much confusion in the scientific workplace. ‘Just get me 118 will you,’ says one boffin to his mate. ‘No, not that directory enquiries number you idiot, I meant that useless atomic particle.’
Wouldn’t it be better to replace this hopelessly anonymous element with Anxiety (He Lp!), the widely known chemical element (that’s what I’m calling it), just to enliven that dull old Periodic Table. Speaking of dull, that’s just the way I like to live my deeply uninteresting life. The duller things are the better, because this means that nothing untoward is going on, i.e. nothing of a scary nature. Let’s go to the cinema you will say, as I’m sitting there on the couch, engaged in knitting something riveting. In theory this will seem like a good idea. Yes, Avengers Age of Ultron does sound mind-blowing and Robert Downey Jr can do no wrong (except when he did do something wrong and went to jail*.) But then a distant memory of a cinema-based massacre will slowly surface from the depths of this angst ridden brain, to be followed by the thought of bombs going off in dark enclosed spaces. But to the movies I will go, to sit there in an eerie half-light, surrounded by strangers, any one of whom could be the next perpetrator of another cinema-based atrocity, or have just planted a scarily homemade, internet-based bomb, right in the middle of the Pick ‘n’ Mix section. There will then be a 30 minute advertising onslaught, whilst I carefully monitor the Dolby sound system for ‘loudness’, which tends to start off on a scale of ‘I can just about sit here without escaping to the toilet,’ to ‘this system has been specifically designed to make your ears bleed and your head blow off.’
Iron Man, and the rest of the Super Crew, will make their entrances, while I’m busy checking out the exits, in case the bloke in front (loudly consuming a container of Nachos covered in something that’s supposed to resemble cheese – 1% cheese and 99% other stuff), turns out to be a raving psychopath.
Or, how about a bit of socialising you will say. You know, going out of the house and doing things with other people. Yes, People, I will mutter, can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Was it Sartre (I’m affecting ignorance here) who famously wrote ‘Hell is other people’. I’d say Sartre hit the nail on the head there, even if he didn’t quite mean that hell was other people. The memories dredged up from my dim and distant past, of times not well spent by socialising with other people, woud make pretty good stand-ins for your average vision of Hell. Nightclubs, for example, seem to have been invented by Satan. Your ‘friends’ drag you along, whilst you plead with them to not leave you alone on the dance floor only to find, 20 minutes later, that they’ve consumed industrial amounts of alcohol and have happily ditched you for their new-found, equally spaced out friends, all of whom are performing acts of public indecency which would, in differing circumstances, land them in jail. Being stubbornly sober, because you worry about the effects of alcohol and exactly how much is required to bring on alcoholic poisoning, means you sit out the rest of the night in a dark corner, imagining you’re on a tranquil beach far, far away, with absolutely nobody else on it.
And then, the other week, the man of the household wilfully drank from a bottle of milk that I discovered had expired two days previously. Rapidly typing the words ‘what happens if you drink off milk‘ into Google, whilst he carried on regardless, revealed that milk, past its expiry date, can cause anything from symptoms that are barely noticeable to imminent DEATH. And I now know that pasteurised milk contains some stealth type bacteria, which survive the pasteurisation process and also laugh at your fridge while they’re in there, as they carry on reproducing themselves (Yukk) in freezing cold temperatures, making a mockery of that use by date.
Anyway, the fact that I worried about the milk drinking calamity meant that I somehow saved the man of the household’s life. You see a good many people claim that Anxiety (He Lp!) is as useless and time wasting as that Ununoctium particle, but I disagree. I’ve come to think of it as a kind of Super Power. As long as I’m sitting there fretting about EVERYTHING, leaving no stone unturned in my quest for things to worry about, then the world spins happily around on its axis. Taking my eye off the ball though results in the planet going to hell in a handbasket. Just as I was doing a spot of Zen like gardening the other day, feeling remarkably worry free, my neighbour felt it necessary to inform me that he’d caught a pair of unknown legs on his night camera, at 2 am the night before, advancing towards his back door. Damn, if only I’d been worrying about intruders instead of slightly off milk, then that neighbourhood prowler wouldn’t have made it past the garden gate.
Take this laptop (please do, it’s knackered) which is perched upon my knees and currently causing me to question just how safe balancing an electronic object, which is getting hotter and hotter by the second, on your person actually is, when I have no idea what’s inside this thing and how many particles of radiation I’m being bombarded with. Not to mention the hours of time I waste staring at this and various other technological devices. Are they emitting eye ball melting rays of digital-type light? Do these electrons seep into your brain via your eyes, nose, mouth and ears, causing any number of horrid brain diseases several years down the line?
Time for a cup of Anxiety (He Lp!) soothing chamomile tea I think.
* Apologies to Holly for bringing up Downey Jr’s sordid past.