Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Living on borrowed time

Well, according to a website that I visited yesterday, I am living on borrowed time, and should really be dead.

I am 48. I smoke, despite the fact that my boozing days are behind me, I still drink alcohol on average more than once a week, I am at least five stone overweight, and I have a history of recreational drug abuse. I should, apparently, be dead.

Yesterday, when I read this edifying and uplifting snippet of information, I was in the third day of the worst cold that I have had for ages, and was quite prepared to believe that my death was imminent.

Today, I am not so sure.

Not only is my tiresome virus in retreat, but the sun is shining, issue 34 of Animals & Men is being enveloped up as we speak, my blasted book is finished, and just awaiting a foreword from Biffo, I managed to finish episode seven of `On the Track` in the wee small hours, we have just posted out the first trenche of sponsorship request packs, and Graham is just about to start painting the outside of the museum. Jon's in his office, and all is reasonably right with the world.

But it gets me thinking about mortality, or more particularly, about current thinking on the subject.

My mother drank reasonably regularly, but never smoked a day in her life. She died of lung cancer aged 79. My grandmother smoked like a chimney, and drank like a fish for years, and died aged 85 of an illness completely unrelated to either of her habits. My father is one of the only two men I have ever met who could drink both me and Graham under the table, (Tony Shiels is the other) and was merrily mixing sherry and morphine together every lunchtime until a fortnight before his death aged 81.

A fellow traveller in the cryptozoological rat race died a few weeks ago aged a few years younger than me, and as far as I am aware, he was teetotal.

I'm not quite sure what point I am trying to make here, or, indeed, if I am actually trying to make one at all. It was quite a shock to read that my race should, statistically at least, already be run, but in the cold grey light of dawn, or rather in the bright, brisk sunlight of April Fool's Day in sunny north Devon, it does not seem anywhere near as frightening a prospect as it did yesterday.

My life has carried a government health warning for years. I have achieved a fair amount, but only scratched the surface of what I intend to achieve. My father refused to die until he finished his magnum opus on the history of modern Africa. I intend to follow in his footsteps, light another cigarette, and tell the grim reaper to sod off until I'm ready for him.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the website I found was only in April Fool's prank from my doctor, anyway. Everybody knows that fags, and the occasional slug of brandy in your coffee are actively good for you!


Nick Redfern said...

Colds? Pah! Colds are unknown in the glorious Midlands. We laugh in the face of colds. We pour scorn on colds. As we do on anything of a southern and shandy nature.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

My uncle is dying of a heart condition that often affects many people with "unhealthy lifestyles". The thing is, he was a fifty-nine year-old super-fit gym-gerbil! I'm not kidding! He used to be a champion cyclist; not quite up to Tour-de-France standards, but still very top-level. Every time he could he'd be off on a bike race. He was in the army most of his life and used to take his unit on long-distance speed-marches at least once a week.

What I'm saying is, as the great comedian Bill Hicks said: "Non-smokers die every day! I know you non-smokers entertain this eternal-life fantasy, so let me have the pleasure of bursting your fucking bubble! You're dead too!" We can't escape it, Jon. I reckon when it comes to life quantity is nice, but quality is better. You could have gone on working at that horrible hospital, but you started off the CFZ instead. That's making the most of of life! What's more I'm certain that death is not the end of our existance. I'm not religious and I don't believe in heaven or hell etc, but there's something afterwards. We go somewhere else.

(BTW, I met David Boyle at the Probe conference at the weekend. You're right, he's utterly asdorable!)

Finn said...

I know a fellow who is a little over weight but not what you would call obese, he doesn't drink, never smoked a day in his life, and never did any kind of drugs. And he was recently diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 38. So I don't think your lifestyle is the be all and end all of how healthy you are or will be. I think luck and your frame mind also plays a role. I'm sure lifestyle is a factor but not everything they make it out to be.