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Two glasses of red wine every evening? Tick

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And if two glasses are good, only imagine the benefits that accrue to me from five

By my reckoning, I must be the healthiest person in the country. Brisk 10-minute walk a day? Tick. Two glasses of red wine every evening? Tick. (And if two glasses are good, only imagine the benefits that accrue to me from five.) Four cups of coffee a day? Tick. No smoking? Tick. No recreational drugs? Tick. Sunscreening? Tick. Statins? Tick. More than five hours’ sleep? Tick. More than six hours’ sleep? Tick. Emotional agility: as, for example, overcoming negative emotions by welcoming them with self-compassion? Tick. Porridge? Tick. Porridge and berries? Tick, tick. Cheese (I was once off it to avoid fat, now I’m on it again for protein, calcium and vitamins A and B12)? Tick. Not wearing Lycra? Tick. (I’m not sure whether I shouldn’t be wearing Lycra for health or for fashion reasons, so I’m not wearing it for both. In which case, make that another double tick.)

So why aren’t I feeling well? Could it be that some people are simply not fashioned to feel well no matter how many boxes they tick? There’s a presumption in the health industry that all any of us wants is to get ourselves into shape and live for ever. We are shepherded into blooming longevity, and before we are able to ask ourselves if we wouldn’t rather burn with Walter Pater’s “hard, gem-like flame” and then go out early, we find ourselves 110, unable to remember our name.

Related: Howard Jacobson: ‘My personal trainer has me doing tai chi’

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