The fictional detective Inspector Rebus finds his unhealthy lifestyle has serious consequences.
Many of us, particularly the young, have a sense of immortality. Bad things, we sometimes seem to think, happen to other people, not us.
So we like a smoke, a drink and a diet heavy on the chips and light on vegetables? Don’t worry, we tell ourselves, somehow we’ll be fine.
It’s almost as if we think we’re living the charmed life of the hero of the story, we’re the main character of our own lives, so we can’t be bumped off early or even towards the end of book two. Nope, not us, we’ll be around until the end of our long, fascinating story.
Do the writers of fiction share any of the blame for this perception, one that is at odds with the reality that an unhealthy lifestyle will almost certainly not result in a happy ending?
If so, Ian Rankin may be doing his readers a service by giving his hard-drinking and smoking detective, Inspector Rebus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which leaves him struggling to climb stairs and forces a move to a ground-floour flat.
Rebus may be fictional but he is not immortal and his life is catching up with him. And that’s a reality some of us need to face up to.