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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Laughter is the best medicine?

Today is healthy living day in the Welsh Assembly. Nobody is quite sure who designated it thus or what authority they had to organise it. Nevertheless, we have all been bombarded with e-mails, leaflets and posters heralding the advent of this ground-breaking event.

All of the meeting rooms have apparently been booked all-day, a feat that in itself is worthy of note. AMs, their staff and civil servants can avail themselves of diabetes testing and support, blood pressure checks and advice, smoking cessation advice and tests, lung function testing and advice (presumably this is akin to the old New Labour joke about the pager messages to Labour MPs to keep breathing), body mass index readings, binge drinking tests (No, I don't believe that this is a competition to see who can drink the others under the table), and advice on salt intake with 'Sid the slug'. This last one may be worth a visit, though I hope that there is not a real slug involved as it could prove fatal for it.

In addition there is also laughter therapy, Tai Chi, relaxation therapy and exercise help. All of this leads up to a policy talk and the launch of an All-Party Group on healthy living. It must amount to the most comprehensive launch of such a group in the history of the Welsh Assembly. All of this is being co-ordinated by the Caerphilly Labour AM, Jeff Cuthbert, the self-designated health guru of the Assembly, with a mission to get us all fit. Rumours that his previous job involved running a boot camp are unfounded.

Just to make sure that we all feel included, each Assembly Member has been given a rather garish pedometer/FM radio so that we can exercise to our favourite local radio station. I did point out that I cannot pick up Swansea Sound and The Wave or Bridge FM in Cardiff Bay but this did not seem to make a difference. My previous experience with pedometers has not been good. On an Assembly Day I have struggled to get about 5,000 steps. I do not intend to try and improve on that record today.

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