Gloom and Doom

I think I must give up watching the evening news or trawling through the newspapers every morning. It really is too depressing. Even on fine sunny days – and we haven’t enjoyed too many of them lately – media people will find something to worry or complain about.

A few weeks ago, it was ticks. It was the local evening news and a woman was brought in front of the camera to explain how she had been bitten by a tick two years ago and it had thereby ruined her life. Then a professor was wheeled in to say that the warm spell – and it wasn’t actually hot – would cause many more people to be out and about on the Moors. She said it was ‘a high-risk situation.’

What alarmist sort of boloney is that? Yes there are a few ticks on Dartmoor, but they don’t amount to a problem for wanderers. But we must all beware or tick-borne calamity will surely befall us.

The news reader went on to advise us exactly what not to do when bitten by a tick. Under no circumstances should you pull the ruddy thing off as you may leave part of the mouth in your skin, thus spreading Lyme disease. Nor must you try and kill it as this ‘might’ make it vomit into the wound. It seems there is only one way to remove the tick that is drinking happily from your leg and that is with a specialised tick removal tool.

A what? That does not sound the sort of gadget that most of us carry around and even my trusty Leatherman doesn’t have one in its assortment of gadgets, but I will try to remember it in future.

The best solution is of course not to get bitten in the first place. ‘Experts’ assure us that we should wear light-coloured clothing and apply loads of insect repellent. We must also tuck our clothing into our socks. Shorts weren’t mentioned for some reason yet down here in Devon, three quarters of the male population seem to be in shorts on even the coldest of days.

I must have removed thousands of ticks from my skin over the years and when I was under the tender care of the Tropical Diseases people after my Zambezi walk, one of their tests showed that somewhere along the way I suffered from tick fever. Is that Lyme disease I wonder? Fortunately perhaps, I was in such poor condition most of the time that I didn’t know.

And here is the best bit from that news snippet. After you have been for a walk on the moors, you must thoroughly examine your entire body and get someone else to ‘inspect the areas that are hard to see.’ These pathetic doom mongers are suggesting that after you have been out for a stroll, you should strip off and have your other half ferret around in your undercarriage for evidence of marauding ticks. Unless one is still young and sprightly that does not sound like much fun – particularly for he or she doing the ferreting.

In an average year about sixty million people do not contract Lyme disease and perhaps a few hundred do. It probably serves those few hundred right for not taking proper precautions or perhaps for not having someone else available to inspect their wedding tackle for ticks after a walk. Why for that matter, did they not invest in a tick removal tool?

Why oh why can’t we celebrate and enjoy the rare times of good weather in this country without having our enjoyment flattened by news readers and so-called experts. Ten years or so ago – it might have been longer – a B.B.C newscaster called Martin Lewis suggested that the nightly news bulletins ought to contain at least one cheerful item. Strangely enough, Mr Lewis disappeared from our screens shortly afterward and his suggestion has never been taken up.

You understand now why I don’t want to watch or read the news anymore. Mind you, I will probably have to or I might run out of complaints about politicians and the modern world.

That would never do!

Talking about fine weather, we certainly don’t have any today up on the Moor. It is blowing a gale and raining in an almost horizontal direction. I drove in to nearby Yelverton this morning to undergo a blood test – not for Lyme disease I hasten to add – and when the nurse had taken half my arm out, she asked how I would be spending my day.

‘I shall put my feet up, puff happily on my pipe and wrap myself around a glass or three of gin,’ I told the lass and she smiled a little nervously.

It sounded pretty good to me at the time but I ended up talking about ticks instead.

Life does jump around in surprising ways at times! Where oh where did I put that gin bottle?

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