Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The bear facts: eat, sleep and wake up slim

Billy Simpson, Belfast Telegraph

Overweight and depressed? Never met a bun you didn't like? A "gimme fries with that" person who resists exercise on the grounds that it might kill you?

Well, despair no more. At last someone has come up with the perfect diet for the fat and the lazy. The Polar Bear diet.

And, no. You don't get to eat a polar bear. You just hibernate for a couple of months and your body will eat that fat right off you.

Hibernating animals survive the winter in a state of torpor. Their body temperature plummets, their heart and breathing rates drop and their metabolism changes from primarily glucose burning to fat burning. They live on their body fat reserves for a few months then wake up lean and mean and ready for dinner.

A leading molecular biologist at the University of Texas, Professor Cheng Chi Lee, claims in the latest issue of the New Scientist magazine, that a new drug being developed could induce a similar state of torpor in humans and change their metabolism from glucose burning to fat burning. It is the kind of weight-loss programme that could alleviate a range of conditions associated with obesity - diabetes, high blood pressure and eating disorders.

It works on mice and, what with rodents being second cousins to man in the evolutionary scale, there seems no reason why it shouldn't work on people. As any women will confirm, there are many similarities between men and rats.

So you just take the drug. Go to sleep for a couple of weeks or months and awaken stones lighter without having to get involved in any of that messy liposuction business.

And while you are asleep you won't be eating any of nature's bounty so you'll be doing the environment a favour too.

Since you won't be driving a car, flying in a plane or taking a bus anywhere, you'll have a smaller carbon footprint than a fruit fly.

Of course, like all great scientific breakthroughs, there is a downside.

If all the fat people sleep through the winter there could be massive redundancies at abattoirs and cake shops. Gymnasiums would fold and aerobics studios dance their way to oblivion. Although thin people will have more room to spread out, they may start feeling insecure since there'll be no fat people around to provide contrast.

Go around me

My friend Stewart Mackay has forwarded on some T-shirt slogans that have turned up on his e-mail.

"I'm Retired. Go Around Me."

"To Err Is Human - But To Blame It On Someone Else Shows Management Potential."

"If A Man Speaks In A Forest But There Is No Woman There To Hear Him - Is He Still Wrong?"

Go to life

It was my privilege, many years ago, to interview the late, great Joseph Tomelty. His advice to anyone thinking of making a living out of writing, was simple. "When in doubt always go to life."

I was reminded of that advice last week when I read about the deaths of two men who provided the inspiration for some of comedy's funniest moments.

The first was an American talent agent, called Roy Gerber, who was the model for the character of Oscar Madison in Neil Simon's classic comedy The Odd Couple. Gerber was a friend of Neil Simon and his brother Danny.

When Danny separated from his wife, the recently divorced Gerber invited him to stay at his apartment for a few weeks. Unfortunately Danny Simon had some of the characteristics of the other half of the odd couple, Felix Unger. He was a neat freak and compulsive picture straightener. Heavily into cooking and cleaning.

It was a fraught experience for Gerber who came home late one evening to find Danny throwing a fit because the pot roast was ruined. Danny related his experience to his brother Neil and the rest is theatre history.

Actor Walter Matthau said playing Oscar was the easiest part he'd ever done. "I just did Roy Gerber and it worked out great."

The other story concerns the late London restaurateur, Andrew Leeman.

Over dinner one evening with writer/comedian John Cleese, Leeman told of an experience he had when he was a young trainee in the hotel business. He found a dead guest in a bedroom at the Savoy and was instructed to " dispose of the body discreetly."

An anecdote that inspired Cleese to write the classic The Kipper and the Corpse episode of the TV series Fawlty Towers.

When in doubt, go to life.

Gratitude

Man to grim faced wife. "I don't know what I did to deserve your not talking to me, but I want you to know I'm grateful." - (Courtesy of Mitchell Smyth)

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