The Third Leader: Let there be light

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The Independent Online

Dull, grey, the wet flecking the lamplight and the chill nipping around the backs of your knees, seasonal festivities over, transport disrupted, credit card bill in, bird flu coming, jolly people pushing diets: it's enough to turn even a Liberal Democrat nasty. Small wonder, then, 'tis the season to be affected by seasonal affective disorder.

You know: SAD, resulting from a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus caused by fewer daylight hours and lack of sunlight, symptoms include lethargy, overeating, anxiety, and mood swings. Some half a million people in Britain are affected, mostly women; several million more suffer from the milder Sub-Syndromal SAD, or Winter Blues, as it's sometimes known.

One cure, prolonged exposure to intense light, has just been made available in an experimental café at the Science Museum in London, using lighting more than five times stronger than is normal in the home.

An excellent idea. But if you're outside London, and tending towards the lighter end of the Blues, I have some suggestions that might just be of use: 1. Put a really bright light in the fridge. 2. Sit near the photocopier. 3. Go to a floodlit soccer match (although probably not such a good idea if you support Manchester United, Newcastle or Everton). 4. Get a friend and take turns interrogating each other. 5. What about spot-welding evening classes? 6. Do you have an aged relative with a birthday coming up who likes a cake? 7. Lie back and imagine you're on holiday with the Prime Minister. 8. Remind yourself you're not in the Celebrity Big Brother house. 9. Whistle a happy tune. 10. Just pull yourself together, for goodness sake.

Sorry, forgive me, but it's this damn weather.

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