Derring Dos & Don'ts: Health - Mustard comedy magazine
Colonel Mustard

Derring Dos & Don'ts
An instructive guide for the English adventurer

Part Three: Health

Don't you just hate those people who've never been sick a day of their sad, pointless lives? 'At least you've got your health' generally means 'because you've got bugger all else'.

Sickness as a Weapon

All manner of foul contagion has confounded my immune system over the years, and I'm a better man for it. I've carted some bacilli around for so long that we're on first name terms.

Thus, if I take a serious dislike to a person, I can hospitalise them just by clearing my throat. Into their gin & tonic. If they're not within minutes of an Institute for the Study and Treatment of Tropical Disease, it's generally curtains. Opening to welcome their coffin.

Since the age of nine I have been building up a resistance to poisons through regular consumption of vast quantities of liquor. It would take something pretty remarkable to send me to my sick bed.

As my Doctor explained, most diseases are simply unable to survive in my bloodstream, disintegrating upon contact.

In my time I've had, amongst others; beri-beri, scurvy, diphtheria, English measles (a fine disease), German measles (to my shame), dropsy, parasitic infestation (both vermicular and venereal), rickets, crickets, malaria, ingrowing toenails and gout.

Ah, gout; now there's an ailment. "A disturbance of uric-acid metabolism occurring chiefly in males, characterised by painful inflammation of the blah-blah-blah."

Cutting through the medical Johnny's tosh: your joints become internally encrusted in crystalline piss. Not nice, eh? Comes from overindulgence in fine foods, old wines and French women, and can result in yer legs ballooning up like a frog on a gas tap.

Being partial to the odd port (Calais, usually), I was a martyr to gout until I discovered a wonderful herb grown in the tropics. Not only does it undo the worst effects, it also conditions one's hair โ€“ leaving it tautened, plumped-up, with a dewy glow.

Our Great British Diseases

However, these seem to be a thing of the past now, which brings me to two important questions. One: where have all the good old traditional British diseases gone? And two: how do we get them back?

Because it's not just me who has much to thank them for, it's Britannia herself!

Those diseases arising from vitamin deficiencies were particularly useful. When our Glorious Armed Forces were prone to rickets and scurvy, we had a sound advantage over armies raised on the 'Mediterranean diet' (Spaniards, Southern French, Californians etc.). Our bow-legged chaps presented a far smaller target and were, therefore, considerably more stable.

Indeed, if Lady Hamilton hadn't been plying Nelson with fruit in the run up to Trafalgar, he'd have had rickets like the rest of us, and that Spaniard's bullet would have passed inches above his head (and 50 foot above mine, as I was 'checking the bilges for leaks' throughout hostilities).

So much for fruit; lethal stuff. It's no coincidence that the peoples we've had most trouble subduing are those whose diet is similar to, or worse than, our own โ€“ the Irish and Americans spring to mind.

I've modified this anti-fruit stance only once, during a venture into the arid wastes of the Gobi desert. Here I fed a vitamin and mineral supplement to the youngest of my servants, a lively fresh-faced boy of some 13 summers. My care was rewarded when, lost for 40 days, we ate him. Not only was he of a high nutritional value, but his carcass stayed fresh for a week.

However, as well as the dietary deficiencies that were our strengths, we were also ravaged by terrible plagues. More on those next time โ€“ until then, keep eating those limes!

~ R.A.

Illo: S.C.


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