THE problem with reading too much is that you can’t unread what you’ve read. That’s all well and good if you’ve just finished a fluffy chick-lit novel – but not so cheery when the topics are so outlandish that you may never leave home again.
It feels as though the world has become weirder very quickly. I’ve spent almost my entire adult life researching trends, reporting on everything from hideous crime to housewives going under the knife and being face-to-face with some seriously kooky characters; but things were never as odd as they are now.
Perhaps we’re bored or just fed up with the seemingly endless global problems plaguing us – maybe that’s why humanity is pushing the envelope of sanity and common sense behaviour.
And the funny thing is, most of this bizarre stuff comes straight from the heart of science, technology and engineering.
I blame Google for its ability to predict what I might want to read about, even though the theme of my online search is usually outrageously innocent. In this case, I was looking for sugar-free biscuits.
Instead, I found whiskey made from urine. I’m truly unsure how "sugar-free biscuit recipes” morphed into a link to designer James Gilpin’s peculiar method for making single-malt tipple.
But that’s how it goes. Bodily functions, grisly accidents, horror stories and "check this out it’s for real” ghost stories can’t be unseen, unread or un-thought. And I don’t believe that you wouldn’t find it just as difficult to not click the link – because we’re all suckers for trivia.
The "wee whisky” thing, I think, was a join-the-dot situation: mention "sugar” online and you’re dealing with a word that has loaded meaning. I suppose diabetes is a natural sub-topic – and so I happened upon James Gilpin, whose biomedical technology turns the "sugar-rich urine of elderly diabetics into a high-end single malt whisky”.
Thankfully, I drink wine, but imagine if I didn’t? I’m squeamish; no matter how often health experts advise that urine is one of the most sterile liquids, I’ll never be able to have or pour a tot without mentioning this. It’s the ideal dinner party anecdote – for wine drinkers, at least. And from there, downhill. The same website has a section titled "weird news”. How could you not? Headlined was jewellery graduate I-Ting Ho, who punts a selection of earrings, brooches and other accessories that look and feel exactly like human skin.
At first, I thought that it was, in fact, human, but it’s not: it’s silicone rubber. Still, I don’t understand why she did it.
There are several other things that I can’t unread this morning, all of which are gross or unsettling and may radically change the way I eat, dress, parent and go to the bathroom. They may or may not involve fake faeces made from soybean extract, jewellery manufactured from cat fur and a helmet equipped with sharp razors that shaves your head every time you wear it.
The invention of the light bulb was a smart day for science – and I’m grateful for the electric toothbrush. But somehow, I think we’ve run out of good ideas.