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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 17 September 2016


We had a guest from a small village in the UK Midlands last week, my wife’s cousin, Tim. He hadn’t been to South Africa for 24 years, but had come primarily to visit Kaz and her Mom (Tim’s aunt).  One day Kaz took him on an outing to #Tala Game Reserve. Kaz described the service they had at lunchtime as simply diabolical. When the time came to pay the bill, Tim added on a tip. Kaz asked him why he had done that when the service had been so poor. His reply: “It’s worth it just for the entertainment value.” He’s quite an extraordinary person.

Despite the allure in our house of green juices, vegetables, smoothies, muesli and other food generally regarded as good for you, for the whole week he was with us Tim stuck to his customary diet of chips, cake, the occasional pie and baked beans, supplemented by the delightful discovery he had made on his last visit to South Africa, Yogi Sip.

Now Kaz would probably be having a meltdown if any of her family were to follow Tim’s diet, but she’s quite uncharacteristically relaxed with Tim because he’s been roughly on the same diet for the past 50 years – perhaps it’s a bit more sophisticated now than it used to be when he was a child – and he is not an ounce overweight, is never ill, has a perfect complexion, no wrinkles and looks a good 10 or so years younger than he actually is. Granted, he could use a decent dose of sunshine, but then again that is so for most Brits.

So have we been doing it all wrong? Should we bin the Mediterranean diet, or Banting or whatever else is supposed to do us some good and just stick to chips, baked beans, cake and Yogi Sip?  I can confidently say that if I were to do so I would put on 10kg in a month, almost certainly get run down, develop acne and constipation, fart a lot and spend my time trying to ward off colds and other infections. So how does one explain Tim as a picture of health?

What I haven’t yet mentioned is that he is simply one of the nicest human beings ever to grace the planet. He is steady as a rock, has a wonderful sense of humour, nothing gets him down, he bears no malice to anyone, doesn't have a bad bone in his body, connects with everyone he meets, is grateful for everything, takes everything that Life delivers in his stride and in the same accepting and philosophical vein. He is absolutely happy with where he is and what he does in his life, so in short he simply has no noticeable stress. 

As it happened, whilst he was here we had a week of mini-domestic disasters – stuck garage door, burst water main, broken gate and a few others not worth mentioning. Tim was the one at the house whilst we were out at work, quietly befriending and managing the contractors with no drama or fuss. As I say, quite a remarkable person.

And that, I reckon, is why he can and does eat any cr*p he feels like and still shows no ill effects after all these years. My theory is that, because he carries no personal baggage, his body is able to devote all of its energy and resources to dealing with his diet and extracting what few nutrients there are in what he eats.

For the rest of us, we fuss about our kids and stress at work and worry about the world and our government and our President and the economy and money and health and our relationships and whatever else happens to be in our lives, so we don’t have the resources to deal with bad food as well. And the health consequences follow.

So I’m not suggesting that you retire to a desert island (or even to North Muskham in the English Midlands)  and eat chips and baked beans for the rest of your life, but imagine how well and vital we could all be if we could see the entertainment value in absolutely everything in our lives.

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