Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Notes From Beyond the Veil
Alas Poor Hamlet

I’m dead. This is not paranoia, nor some kind of acidhead hippy fantasy. It’s a clinically proveable fact.

How do I know this? Science, of course. First, I live in Lewisham. A survey says that male residents of this impoverished (in patches) area of London have a statistical chance of dying at 70.8 years. I regularly see men walking about who are over 70.8, but I address them bluntly: “What makes you so special? Think you’re cleverer than the doctors who’ve spent years studying this stuff?”

Another survey says that people who sit down for longer than 3 hours a day lose 2 years off their life. I’m a writer. I also love watching Scandinavian detective drama, sitcoms and the Toyota “Mob Guy” advert. None of this stuff is improved by doing it while sweating over an exercise bike. 3 hours seated? I did more than that when I had piles.

Yet another survey warns that every cigarette cuts 11 minutes off your life. I only smoked for 10 years of my reckless youth, but 25 cigarettes a day adds up to 91,250, which by my reckoning is 1.90 years deducted off my account.

Lewisham’s rated highly on the pollution scale. Our contribution to the world carbon monoxide count is pretty impressive. An EU survey says living in areas like this cuts up to 8 months off your life.

I’m 65.25 years old. I think you can see where this is heading.

My cholesterol is on the low end of the highish spectrum, although I reduce it by thinking of Chris Moyles whenever I pass a cheese counter. Totting up an average of cholesterol survey results, by my calculation a whole year’s gone ping.

So, if you have the adding up skills of the average 15 year old - change that – of the average bank clerk – you’ll see that there can be no arguing. 70.80 – 5.62 = 65.18. Statistically, I’m no longer alive.

Having said that, life improves when you’re dead. For a start, I’m much less worried about my health. I read fewer surveys. I’m probably more fun to be around. Who knows, I’ll come across another survey which says that being dead increases your life expectancy by 5.62 years. And I’ll be back to where I was when I started. Except 1 ½ hours older.


  1. You had me laughing out loud and the dog staring at me like I was crazy. What a wonderful post! Thanks for writing this, and I wish you many more years of sedentary writing. Your words make you alive and that's what counts much more than your actual years.

    1. Thanks, Darlene. That's a lovely thought.

  2. Well done! For either being alive but dead or being dead but least one of the two. I can imagine the Hollywood guys salivating at the prospect of some more creative movies like The Grateful Undead, The Ungrateful Living, Honey, I stole 5.62 years of my life, or some such.

  3. Thanks, Ankur. Movies, you've got me thinking.... Zombies, they have so much fun!

  4. That's a nice piece of calculation you did up there.
    What interesting subjects death and life are, especially because they often defy statistics and leave statisticians open-jawed. So don't worry, be a good guy and you'll leave much longer than that.