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Nobbut laiking: Ross Brewster

Date: Tuesday 1st September 2015

MIGHT just nip in and see the doctor about getting a prescription for those swish new Nikes, the £140 running shoes designed to take all the sweat and tears out of this exercise lark.

And, while I’m about it, maybe the doc. can give me a note for some fruit and salad from the supermarket.

The thing is, I’m trying to up my exercise routine and eat healthily, which entails giving up some of things that make life more bearable, but aren’t necessarily good for one.

Chips, for starters. Takeaways, too. Much as I’m an addict of Indian and Chinese food, it puts on weight and anyone who has ever been on a diet will tell you it’s far easier to gain a stone than shed a pound.

And why not get a prescription for things that will improve my health? We’re always being told there’s an obesity crisis, that diabetes is increasing and that we need to change our lifestyle for the better if we are to avoid a sickly old age.

So what’s the difference between a pair of Nikes and e-cigarettes? Three health organisations have suggested that you and me, through the NHS, should provide e-fags on prescription to users. Ridiculous.

This is one of the barmiest proposals of all time. I am all in favour of helping smokers give up. But at the end of the day they have got to want to quit and do it for themselves.

Okay, so I admit there’s nobody quite as smug as a reformed smoker. I smoked in my teens, working in offices where everyone lit up and you felt bad if you weren’t handing round your share of the ciggies. But I gave up because I loved sport more and fell running and Players No. 6 were not compatible. It was tough for a week or two, but I managed, and won a fiver bet with my mate, also a smoker.

If people want to smoke that’s their look out. I’m no nanny state sympathiser. We do a lot of things in life that aren’t good for us. I actually feel a bit sorry for them as they stand outside pubs in the cold having a last drag before resuming drinking their pints. They look such a sad bunch.

The newest lifestyle choice, vaping, is said to help some smokers give up tobacco. Nobody knows for certain if vaping has any adverse effects in the long term. So far tests seem to show it’s far less damaging to health than cigarettes.

But pay for people to take it up? No way. Already we are seeing clubs and cafes spring up, where vapers sit around puffing at their little tubes trying to look cool. They have simply adopted a new addiction.

And have you noticed how the e-cig industry is lobbying to have its products approved by the NHS? Someone out there is about to make a multi-million pound killing — and I don’t see why we non-vapers should be helping to finance it when our money could be better spent in many other ways.

If vapers can afford their indulgence it’s outrageous that non-vapers should help to pay for their tutti fruitti and butterscotch-flavoured liquid.

I could try it on over those Nikes with the trendy swoosh and air pads, but I suspect I’d get short shrift from the medic. Which is exactly what I would give those vapid vapers who have not given up their nicotine fix at all, just found a less dangerous way of continuing to have their cake and eat it and their drug and smoke it.


SAMUEL Ladyman was one cool guy. He was years ahead of his time as a philanthropist, providing, often at his own expense, soup for the poor and water to drink for the weary traveller.

Ladyman, who was born in 1812 and died at his home in St. John Street in July, 1885, provided Keswick with seats and fountains as well as promoting a soup kitchen for the less fortunate in the winter months.

He would have been right in there today, as campaigners seek to restore many of these free Victorian facilities to reduce the nation’s use of bottled water which so often ends up as discarded plastic and an environmental blight on the streets and in the hedgerows.

About half of Britain’s water fountains no longer work. “It’s a great shame,” said Ralph Baber, secretary of the Drinking Fountain Association. “Not only are these fountains useful, but many of them are beautiful as well.”

The Victorians left us many great legacies, from the railways to modern Christmas, but one of their greatest public health innovations has been left to fall into ruin in many towns and villages.

Keswick has been assiduous in protecting and restoring its fountains. It was one of the projects adopted by the now defunct Civic Society. There are examples at High Hill, near Fitz Park and beside the Moot Hall. People usually pass by, blissfully unaware of their presence and history.

In Victorian times a glass of gin was cheaper than a glass of clean drinking water. When bottled water started becoming trendy the price zoomed upwards and plastic bottles became the bane of towns and the countryside, with more than four million being thrown away every year.

Time for some modern Samuel Ladymans to step forward. History man, the late George Bott, once wrote in the Herald that Ladyman was an example of “simple philanthropy, a fine example of private enterprise who was not inspired by profit”. The “Big Society” long before David Cameron ever thought of it. And this Big Society actually worked.

“Hercules”, of the Lake District Visitor newspaper, considered that Ladyman would have made “a suitable MP for Keswick” had the town ever been granted one.

The spirit of this notable Keswickian seems very much to the fore as enthusiasts and corporate sponsors are reviving some of the country’s best drinking fountains. Perhaps the time is right for those who possess these hidden gems to bring them to the public’s attention again.

For, as The Times said in a recent editorial, “water, the driving force of nature, should again be part of our streetscape”.

I can almost hear the ghost of Samuel Ladyman saying “hear, hear” to that sentiment.


IT’S as clear as mud. If you’ve bought an electrical appliance lately you will probably be as confused as one reader was when poring over the instructions that came with his new fridge freezer.

The freezer arrived from Milton Keynes, but reading the instructions it seems they were written in China, which is probably where the appliance was manufactured in the first instance.

For example, this advice on power failure: “If it is last within 24 hours.” Or what to do with a noisy appliance: “Not position on even surface.” So does that mean you move it from an even surface to one that’s on a slope?

Strange things must go on inside fridge freezers because the booklet also advises that “bottles and containers are contacting with each other”. A scary thought in this robotic age.

I bought a new car earlier this year. It’s right hand drive, but the manual is designed for left hand drive. For a month I was putting the hot air fan on every time I tried to get Radio Cumbria.

Poor spelling and bad grammar is something we’ve come to accept these days, but you would think, as we are spending plenty of cash on cars and household goods, the least they could do is present the instructions in reasonably plain English.


SHUCKS, that’s another birthday come and gone. I don’t celebrate them these days. I resolved, when reaching 60, I was going to stay that age for the rest of my days, simply by refusing to acknowledge any further ageing.

Mind you, there’s this secret me that still looks for the postie on the day. Not that there’s much encouragement there because new figures from Ofcom show the art of sending birthday cards is dying fast.

I should be grateful for the e-cards and text messages, the mentions on social media. But it’s not the same. Old-fashioned cards are said to be scientifically proven to make recipients feel happier than messages that disappear into the clouds once you’ve opened them on your computer.

Even an old curmudgeon, a birthday denier, secretly looks forward to the “happy hormones” a real, tangible card provides.

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