Like most of us, I feel that life is a joyless, desiccated husk of a thing just waiting to be crushed under the wheel of one last cartload of misery, so it is with a strange sense of relief that I bring you the news that that cart has finally arrived. It was bringing the news that the Food Standards Agency wants calorie counts to be printed next to dishes on menus of restaurants, canteens and takeaways.
Historically, for whatever reason - possibly something in my childhood - I have had quite a high tolerance for having tyrannical rules suddenly imposed on me ostensibly for my benefit and yet curiously often detracting from my quality of life. But with this latest news, I find I have reached my limit. That's it. No more. Do you know how carefully I already live my life? I don't take a step without calculating how it will affect me, Toryboy, the cats, my finances, the family, the climate, the world. My internal voice yammers ceaselessly on, listing possible alternatives, consequences and further questions for investigation at a later date until I'd like to crawl inside my own skull with a tiny spade and batter my brain to death.
I am sure that you, as lovely, mindful types with far greater familial responsibilities and more acute socioenvironmental consciences, are plagued even more profoundly thus. The only way we can survive is in the few tiny pockets of willed ignorance that survive in this hyper- informative age. The restaurant menu is one of these. On the odd occasion that I quiet the voice within that would otherwise insist on telling me the carbon footprint of takeaway packaging and expounding upon the unsustainability of fried rice, I like to treat myself to a non-home-cooked meal. It is one of my few remaining pleasures and now it is to be cursed with calorific blazonry.
What's next? How are the last drops of happiness to be wrung from the filthy, damp dishcloth of life? I still like sleeping, so should I expect a government directive requiring that all duvets be printed with giant photos of the dust mites and parasites that live in every bed but whose existence still falls under the heading Things We Know About At Some Level, But Upon Which We Choose Not To Reflect In Order To Safeguard Our Mental If Not Epidermal Integrity? Will the restorative powers of hot ablutions in the morning also be suitably attenuated, with every shower retro-fitted with a device that broadcasts the screamings of the rainforest whenever you crank the temperature up a notch?
I expect chocolate will soon be sold in the shape of tumours and crisps will be sold in packets mimicking an enlarged heart. From there it will be but a short step to requiring all pets to have their species' average lifespan shaved into their fur - or perhaps doomsday clocks hung around their necks - to remind any owner under 90 that their beloved beasts will never outlive them, and that sometime between 2012 and 2020 they are going to be digging a tiny grave in the garden and trying to explain that Floofdafloof has gone to a better place in a futile attempt to assuage the fathomless grief of his household's juvenile population.
Adding calorie counts to menus will do nothing to arrest obesity. The only way you can stop a dedicated fatty eating a burger is through a carefully organised programme of nutritional and psychological re-education. Or by offering them a bigger burger. All it does is increase resistance among those previously disposed to accept the rules. And now, if you will excuse me, I am off to poison a waterway or two. Remember, it's the FSA that drove me to it.