Dr Bongo on...

Dr Bongo on...The Environment

from the desk of Dr Bongo

The Environment

This week one of my patients asked me what I thought about the environment. Once I had got over the sheer impertinence of this question and had admonished the impudent woman with my harshest and most withering stare, I gave the matter some thought. My view at the time was that, on the whole, having an environment was a good thing. After all, if you don't have an environment, where would you be? Exactly: nowhere. On reflection, I think I may have misunderstood the exact nature of the enquiry.

The fact is that I am really quite environmentally minded, and with good reason. I have a significant holding in a chemical factory which relies quite heavily on the environment - chiefly, cutting down huge swathes of it, bulldozing vast tracts of it, digging up dirty great lumps of it and sticking the bits we don't want back down the hole. Inevitably, this sort of activity results in a certain amount of fallout. I don't mean fallout in the 'nuclear' sense, of course... although, actually, that does happen from time to time. No, I mean fallout in the sense of a backlash from the do-goody, know-nothing, tree-hugging vegetarian brigade and whichever opportunist, vote-chasing politicians they happen to have in their pockets that week.

By the way, I don't mean to give the impression that I am trying to disparage these people or belittle their views. Such freaks have just as much entitlement to their opinions as 'normal' people, and the fact that their trippy, new-age bullshit has about as much relevance to the real world as rainbow-coloured unicorns, magic healing crystals and all the other guff that these self-deluding cretins credulously devote their existences to shouldn't deter them from expressing their ridiculous ideas.

However, seeing as how health and wellbeing are my twin stocks in trade, so I'm told, I am well aware of the effect that a person's environment has on their welfare. Good grief, they tell me about it often enough. Time and again I'm informed by my more determined patients - those who somehow manage to negotiate my torturous appointment booking system and refuse to be put off by my highly-trained team of surly and unhelpful reception staff - that the conditions in which they live are detrimental to their health. They speak of damp and squalid living arrangements, unsafe workplaces and airborne pollutants as if they actually know what they're talking about. And when I tell them to pull themselves together and stop being so pathetic and sickly - which is the medically-approved and undeniably correct course of action in these circumstances - they question my advice and start quoting from all manner of articles and research and case histories to support their woefully misguided self-diagnoses.

How do they get hold of this information? I blame the internet. The bottom line is that a few highly-toxic pollutants in the water supply are good for the constitution and a massive cloud of poisonous gas belching from a nearby refinery never hurt anybody. Studies have proven as much beyond all possible doubt. You just need to read the right studies.

And if you need an example of that, just take a look at my own little side-line. You may have read stories in the national press connecting my factory with a number of unpleasant side effects experienced by people living in the immediate vicinity. "Toxic Waste Destroys Village" read one headline, which was a little misleading since we'd already evacuated the village in question following the 'explosion'. "Save Our Mutant Children" was another, echoing the sentiments of one resident who laboured under the misapprehension that the condition of her hideous and disfigured offspring was somehow something to do with us, rather than a natural consequence of her own stagnant and polluted gene pool. One front page simply read "Doctor Doom" and was accompanied by a photograph of myself dressed as the grim reaper, taken at a rather jolly fancy dress do. Actually, I took a shine to that one. I have it on my surgery wall.

The real casualty of all this hysteria is the effect on property prices in the vicinity of the factory. Not that it's done us any harm, as it happens. We've been able to buy up land dirt cheap and are currently getting set to embark on a major programme of expansion.

So, once and for all, let me finally answer the critics who claim that I don't care about the environment. I care passionately. The environment contributes enormously to the wellbeing of my patients and I encourage them to go out and experience as much of it as possible, rather than hanging around my surgery and spoiling the atmosphere. Also, let's be honest, it's useful in all sorts of other ways - for example, if it wasn't for the environment I'd have nowhere to park my car or dump my old fridge. And finally, without the environment and everything I can plunder from it, I'd have to survive on my doctor's salary alone. Let's face it, no one wants that, do they?


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