‘When I found myself punching the coffee vending machine and howling like Chewbacca, I knew it was time’ – Richard Ord’s battle with addiction

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WHEN I found myself craving my first cup of coffee of the day as I drove up the A19 into work, I thought it might be time to try to wean myself off the stuff.

When I found myself punching the coffee vending machine and howling like Chewbacca, I knew it was time.

I couldn’t focus until that first cup was being downed and the caffeine was sharpening the senses.

The brew came from the office coffee machine. Number 30. I like my coffee like my women. Sweet, strong and whipped? No, cheap. 27p a fix.

If the machine was on the blink, spitting out coffee-free milky froth, the day was ruined.

The name’s Richard Ord, and I’m a coffee addict.

It took about four weeks to give the stuff up. The first four days were the worst. Headaches, cravings. Water is a poor substitute. Awful stuff. No wonder it’s free.

By the end of week two, the headaches and the coffee cravings had gone.

Buoyed by my fortitude, I looked up the health benefits of ridding my body of this instant poison.

My heart would surely be revitalised, beating under its own steam rather than an irregular caffeine-induced thrum. I’d be pumping clean healthy blood through the arteries, giving a healthy glow to my smug chops.

Dr Google was having none of it. Typing in “health and caffeine” what appeared, writ large, were the benefits of drinking coffee.

Caffeine, Google revealed, could help ward off Alzheimer’s, increase stamina, and may even prevent skin cancer. In studies, caffeine consumption was shown to increase short-term memory. I didn’t remember reading that. Not surprising, I’d given up coffee.

Denying myself this pleasure was to the detriment of my health. This was three years ago.

So imagine my delight on reading this week that researchers have found that drinking just four cups of coffee a day can increase your chances of death. Well, thank goodness for that.

Unfortunately, after reading of the benefits of caffeine three years ago, I started drinking it again.

Who do you trust?

I bought into the five-a-day fruit recommendations, only to discover that it was a made up number.

Experts reckon we should be eating at least eight portions of fruit a day.

It’s a similar story with the alcohol guidelines. Fortunately, I’m ahead of the game on that one.

The recommended number of units for an adult male is 21 a week. I’ve doubled that just to be on the safe side.

And watching a documentary of medical self-diagnosis, it revealed we should be taking at least 10,000 steps a day. That’s the daily recommendation. Where they’ve dug that figure up from lord only knows.

I’ve started taking shorter steps and I’m still nowhere near. And I keep losing count.

You can get pedometers that measure your steps. McDonald’s were giving them away with their meals during the Olympics.

If you’re getting your fitness equipment from McDonald’s, I’d suggest upping that step count to 20,000.

We’re being bombarded with studies and statistics because we’re obsessed with dodging death. We want to live forever.

Yet, whenever I see centenarians in the paper or on TV, they are never former bodybuilders or Olympic athletes, they’re unassuming old women with no discernible secret to a long life.

And since I am unwilling to undergo the surgery necessary to turn myself into an unassuming old woman, I’ll stick to the Woody Allen diet.

In the movie, Sleeper, Allen is frozen in time only to wake up 200 years in the future surrounded by doctors.

They bring him round by encouraging him to puff on fat cigars and eat cream cakes.

By the year 2173, smoke, steaks and hot fudge have been found to have huge medicinal properties.

I reckon he was onto something there. Woody Allen is 77 and has a wife 34 years his junior.

He drinks coffee, and he’s not afraid of death. He, like all of us, just doesn’t want to be there when it happens.