The Third Leader: Under pressure

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Much news, we note, about stress and pressure, with hypertension said to affect one-quarter of the world's adults. Difficult, too, to offer much relief when even sunshine comes tinged with warning and guilt. In any event, should you wish to breathe deeply some sea air, we also report that litter on Britain's beaches has increased by 90 per cent since 1994, and, as I advised earlier, there will be no deckchairs in Bournemouth's parks until next month.

Another study has found that commuters employ nine ways to cope, including meditation, chewing gum, staring at other attractive commuters, and reading. It's that last tactic which I should like to explore, as this space today is aimed at providing some assistance.

I am aware that stress is highly subjective, and most often disproportionate, which is why the judgement of Keith Miller, cricketer, Mosquito pilot, and great Australian - "Pressure? Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse" - is often regarded as not particularly helpful.

Nevertheless, there can be calming consolation in the experience of others. If, for example, you worry about mistakes, think how much worse it must be for the Pope, who gets a priest's details wrong in his new book. If you commute by road, consider that on Monday a Hungarian motorway was blocked by 5,000 escaped rabbits.

Nor will most of you be in Japan, where quiet contemplation has not been made any easier by the knowledge that several combination lavatories and bidets have burst into smoke and, in some cases, caught fire. I trust some of this has been of use.

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