I was out during my lunch hour yesterday when I happened to pass an outpost of the Church of Scientology. And they were offering free stress tests.
Well, I had to stop really.
The machine they use – an e-meter – is a big old clunky device with an old-fashioned meter on the front, and a couple of dials to twiddle. It has two large chunky metal cylinders attached to it by wires.
A nice young lady came out and showed me how to operate the device. One first holds a cylinder in each hand, and the machine is calibrated to a neutral point, about a third of the way along the meter. The needle moving to the right detects more stress; the needle moving to the left detects less.
She asked me to think of something stressful. I did, and lo, the needle moved some way to the right. Impressed (I think) by such a large leap, she asked me what I was thinking about.
I was, of course, thinking about monsters. Which can cause a lot of stress.
My answer appeared to disconcert her, so I checked that the device was working properly by thinking about money (stressful) and my girlfriend (not stressful).
The e-meter performed as advertised.
So when next asked to think about something that relieved stress, I thought about Doctor Who.
You’ll be pleased to know that thinking about Doctor Who can significantly reduce your stress levels. I put this down to the knowledge that he can – and indeed has on several occasions – save the universe from destruction, and is therefore a good person to have on your side.
After revealing that Doctor Who helped relieve stress, I noticed that my companion seemed somewhat puzzled.
In an effort to find out more about this new technology, I brought the images of the Cybermen – terrifying half-human half-machines from a parallel world – into my mind.
The needle went off the scale.
Concerned, I think, for my well-being when faced with such a stressful mental image, my new friend enquired what was worrying me. On the revelation that it was, in fact, one of the Doctor’s most feared enemies, she relieved me of the cylinders.
I think she may have been under the impression I wasn’t taking it terribly seriously.