The human condition: world in action

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Indy Lifestyle Online
EYE EYE

The eyes, according to Adam J Jackson, definitely have it - his new book Eye Signs (Thorsons, pounds 7.99), out this week, argues that they're a lot more than mere windows of the soul - one look at them can reveal physical and mental health, emotional states, and even thought processes. From their colour, size, shape, and movement, doctors can detect stress, psychologists can pick up anger and fear, optometrists can diagnose diabetes, and, more prosaically, the police can identify signs of alcohol and drug abuse. Jackson's book tells us how we can analyse ourselves and our nearest and dearest with a searching look - so if you're going to give it as a present, you might be advised to invest in a pair of impenetrable shades.

ARC DE TRIUMPH

It looks like a medieval torture device, but its makers claim the Arc Chair is actually good for you. Working on the principle that "the pelvis determines your centre of gravity", it throws you into all sorts of crazy shapes - from inverted A to collapsed V. Sadists can snap one up for pounds 99.95 by mail order from Body Furniture, 88 Victoria Rd, London NW6 6QA, or phone 0171-625 6577.

JUST WALK IT

As walkers and hikers don kagouls to cope with the onset of sodden autumn/winter conditions, Nike has been preparing state-of-the-art equipment to keep their lower extremities defiantly unmoist. Its Air Tarn hiking boots, the company's first venture into footwear for the fell-bound, were launched quietly in the summer, but should now come into their own. They boast a Gore-Tex lining, rendering them completely waterproof, and the company guarantees "immediate support and comfort", with no break-in period required. They cost pounds 130; phone 0191-401 6453 to locate your nearest stockist.

ATOM BOMBSHELL

He's already put them in skirts, but Jean-Paul Gaultier hasn't finished heaping indignities on men - his pungent new men's fragrance, launched at Harrods later this month comes in a torso-shaped bottle with a bulge that is guaranteed to prey on nagging feelings of inadequacy; the "Prestige" version also comes with a rather dandy bulb-spray atomiser which should go down a storm in the locker room, and will set you back pounds 44 to boot.

FLAKE TREATMENT OF THE WEEK: SOUND HEALING

BEAT THE RETREAT

Are you addicted to music when you are running? Well, it might not be as necessary as you think, according to new research from Connecticut State University. Scientists asked female athletes to pound an exercise treadmill until they were exhausted. Meanwhile, they blasted their guinea-pigs with techno beats, ambient-style twittering birds, and complete silence. The result? None of the sounds made the slightest difference to performance.

GREAT LENGTHS

The National Asthma Campaign is urging swimmers to pool their resources this month and raise money to help it tackle Britain's fastest-growing malady, as well as hayfever and related allergies. The be-cossied are invited to clock up the mileage with as many sponsored lengths and widths as possible through October in the Great British Swim; the Campaign is hoping for an eventual grand total of 4650 miles - the total distance around the UK coastline. They're also hoping to collect a grand total of pounds 175,000. Registration packs are available from Lorna Smith at the National Asthma Campaign, Providence House, Providence Place, London N1 0NT, or phone 0171 226 2260.

CONTRAPTION OF THE WEEK

Velcro the Electronic Elysee Exercise Belt firmly around thighs, waist or bum, with wetted sucker cups firmly clamped against flesh, and turn the dials. The resulting current is supposed to exercise muscles without you having to move from the couch. It prickles alarmingly; not a pleasant sensation. Even tough macho men couldn't turn the dials more than half- way. pounds 49.95, mail order from Home Free Catalogues, phone 01793 542685.

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