“Too much in the sun”

This paraphrase of a mourning and recalcitrant Hamlet, not wanting to spend time in the glitzy court of his murderous stepfather, came to mind with the latest knockabout findings of health scientists. For years the skin cancer lobby would have us returning to those Victorian days of white skins and multi-layered clothing, parasols and factor fifty. There was always a slight chink in their armour when it came to the sunless winter depressions suffered by people of the north but, they would argue, a skin stays young that sees no sun.

Research, out yesterday, suggests a new take on the place of the golden orb in our health and happiness. Vitamin D, which slides down sunbeams and into our bodies on magical motes, actually keeps us younger at a cellular level. We may look like wrinkled cow-hide handbags from the outside but, unlike most of that kind of container, the contents are ordered well and maximally efficient.

We are vaguely aware that health is the new politics and the body, the subject of ideological war, as vested interests seek advantage for their product ranges, their personal careers or their belief systems. But, typing this in a still hot south of France in November, my body feels pretty damn good and I try to listen to what it wants, rather than what scientific experts might tell me.

I want to be like Hamlet and stay out of the health spotlight, refusing to spend time in the media court or be subjected to media courting.

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