The Wellness Problem
I was woken early one morning by a hammering on my back door.
I quickly dressed and rushed downstairs to find Alun in an excitable state.
"What on earth are you doing waking me at this hour?" I said. "It's barely 4.50 in the morning. What's the matter?"
"I'm not ill Jed. I haven't got a cold."
"You've woken me at 4.50 to tell me you haven't got a cold. That's worse than the time you woke me at 5.15 to warn me that the clocks weren't going back."
"But haven't you seen the news, Jed? There's an epidemic on the mainland. Everyone and his dog has got the bug that's going round."
"It's because it's autumn. You remember how you woke me up yesterday to tell me about the deadly disease making the leave fall off our trees (see the falling leaves problem)."
"You're missing my point, Jed," he said. "We've neither of us ever had a cold, flu or any other sickness. Every epidemic passes us by, I've not had a day off in 40 years."
"You've not had a day's work in 40 years."
"You don't need a job to have a day off, Jed. When have you ever known me be sick?"
It was true that Alun was never ill, and it would be unfair to accuse him of being lazy just because he was unemployed. He's always enthusiastically working on some mad scheme or other. Only last week he built a new language from scratch, using only recycled hat pins.
"It's probably because we never see anybody to catch a cold off. We are a very isolated island and we never get visitors."
"Rubbish Jed, it's the water. I'm convinced that our natural Happy Island spring water is the reason we're never ill. That's why I'm launching Happy2O."
"Happy 20, what's that, some ghastly youth product?"
"No Jed, like H2O, but with Happy instead of an H. It's the brand for our springwater - look."
He passed me a bottle of water.
"It's got a smiley face."
"Yes Jed, that's our logo. Happy Island water represented by a smiley face."
"You know very well that's not what the Happy means in Happy Island. We're named after a celtic god of isolation and misery."
"Yes Jed, but a smiley face sells better than a picture of isolation and misery. We've already sold a thousand bottles at one mainland pound a piece."
I wasn't convinced by Alun's latest scheme, even if it was lucrative, it was bound to end in tears as Alun's schemes always did.
After Alun left I went for a walk along the North Bay, where I was amazed to see people on the beach. Happy Island hadn't received any visitors at all for many years.
I rushed down to the shore, where I found Alun shouting enthusiastically at some mainlanders, who were splashing around in the water.
"What on earth's going on?" I said. "Who are all these people?"
"They're customers Jed. I told you I placed some adverts in the Offmainlander Magazine. They're paying 20 mainland pounds each to bathe in our healing spa waters."
"Healing spa waters! That water's not from our spring, that's the sea. It's the same water as they get in the mainland, you can even see the mainland in the distance."
"Shush Jed, don't let on. I've made over 400 mainland pounds today, that's not counting the bookings for the rest of the week. With this and sales of Happy2O I'm going to make a fortune."
The same thing happened every day for the rest of the week, the beach was packed with mainlanders happy to pay a small fortune to enjoy our 'healing spa waters', even in the freezing October weather. I dreaded to think how many visitors we'd get over the summer.
However, one morning the following week I was woken early by a hammering on my back door. I rushed downstairs to find Alun, who looked terrible, his nose bright red and his voice husky.
"I god a cod Jed," he mumbled."
"A cod? You've been fishing at this hour?"
"No Jed, a bug, the flu. I feel terrible, I've hardly slept, I've a throbbing headache, my throat feels like it's been freshly sandpapered and my nose is sore."
"But you never get ill. You told me yourself."
"It's all these sick people coming here Jed. I must have picked up a cod from them.I'm stopping the healing spa tours Jed, they'll be the death of me."