Friday, 13 April 2018

On drinking, sleeping and getting away from the world!

The scaremongers are out in force.

One report I read in today’s paper tells me that every glass of wine you drink over and above the recommended number of units takes half an hour off your life. And then another says night owls - i.e. those who go to bed late and get up late - are more likely to die younger than the larks - i.e, those who got to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn.

This last report seems to change tack part way through. Initially it tells us that “night owls are more prone to smoking, heavy drinking, depression and drug abuse. Oh, and unhealthy eating”. It also warns that “late risers are 30% more likely to have diabetes, 22% more likely to have respiratory problems and 94% more likely to have psychological disorders”. But then it turns around and says that the No 1 underlying factor when it comes to risk of premature death is chronic sleep deprivation. So, as most of us are quite likely sitting up at night worrying about whether our leaders have taken us to the brink of war and beyond, I reckon we are all pretty much stuffed!

 Maybe if we had a properly allotted time slot here on earth, ideally longer than the biblical three score years and ten, we could take a rational decision about whether to have a high old time for a shorter time or to live more moderately for longer!

Or maybe we should opt to live in a radically different way. There is apparently a 72 year old man in Spain, Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja, who was brought up by wolves and now says that on the whole life with wolves was better than life with humans. He was discovered in 1965 living in a cave with a pack of wolves. The story goes that his mother died young and his father sold him to a local farmer.

Note that this was 1965, not 1865! It might seem a long time ago to today’s young people but those of us who were teenagers at the time thought that we were living in really sophisticated times. The music was great, the films and TV were not bad and we were already thinking that soon we would be travelling into space! And there, in Spain, was a child being sold! Yes, SOLD!

After his owner died, when Marcos was about 6, he ran away into the mountains and was adopted by wolves, where he stayed until he was “rescued” in his late teens. He has thought about going back but he says “it’s not what it used to be”. It seems that the wolves have forgotten him. “If I call out they are going to respond, but are not going to approach me,” he says. “I smell like people, I wear cologne.”

I seem to remember there being a spate of stories back in the late ‘60s about feral children, discovered living wild and uncivilised lives. Some of them never truly adapted to life with other people. We don’t hear such stories nowadays. Maybe the open spaces have shrunk, or at least are more visited than they used to be. Besides, everything is more documented and although cases of child abuse still slip though cracks, it appears harder for children just to disappear and go off and live with animals in the hills.

Having said that, in 2001 ANNC News reported the case of the “Dog boy”, who has not been named. This Chilean boy was abandoned by his 16-year-old mother and, after spending a period in care, fled to live among a pack of wild dogs in a cave. The boy would scavenge with the dogs for food and eat out of bins. It is said the boy wanted to remain with his new family so much that he even jumped into the Pacific Ocean to evade capture by the police.

But even that story is almost 20 years old now. We have other, more troublesome, stories in our newsfeeds these days.

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