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Suspend disbelief

The much over-hyped "Da Vinci Code" turns out to have been inspired in a rather unusual way. From The Telegraph:

The hyper-successful novelist plotted his bestseller The Da Vinci Code while dangling upside down wearing gravity boots attached to an inversion bar, it was revealed this week....

Well, I have always fancied myself as a best-selling novelist. And I have fond childhood memories of dangling off climbing frames...

So how does "inversion therapy", as it is known, work?

First, the gravity boots - basically big plastic bands with plastic hooks rather than boots - are strapped to the ankles. The horizontal inversion bar itself is most usually fitted across a door frame, just above head height.

Once you have clamped your ankles into the boots, you clasp the bar and, with gymnastic fluidity, pull your legs right up (let's be utterly honest here - you might have to enlist a spouse or friend to help at this point).

Then, with feet finally at bar height, I hook the boots on to the bar, and slowly lower myself, holding the door frame for support, until I am completely upside down. There follows a noise like musical hailstones as loose change cascades from my trouser pockets and scatters all over the floor.

Then a melodic crunch - the front door keys.

Every muscle initially twitches in protest. This feels so very wrong. But there you are, staring at the world upside down through eyes that are already starting to feel a little puffy. Let the contemplation begin.

It is said that Hippocrates himself, the father of medicine, witnessed a similar activity in the Greece of 400 BC. The patient was tied to a ladder fitted with various weights and pulleys, and then turned wrong way up, for the purposes of therapeutic stretching, to general acclaim.

But it was Dr Robert Martin, a Californian osteopath, who became the great proponent of inversion therapy and came up with the "gravity guidance system" in the 1960s.

In essence, this meant hanging around like a gibbon. Indeed, inversion therapy is possibly a reminder of when we all had branch-friendly prehensile toes.

Gravity boots became ultra-fashionable in 1980, inspired by Richard Gere dangling wrong way up in American Gigolo with Blondie singing Call Me in the background.

The Telegraph expands on this in an opinion piece:

Inspiration strikes different authors in different ways.

Newman wrote The Dream of Gerontius standing - but the right way up. For Coleridge, De Quincey and Wilkie Collins it was opium. William S Burroughs, for similar reasons, said he had no memory of writing his Naked Lunch at all. For Evelyn Waugh it was chloral; for Andrew Motion, Lemsip. Drink, danger and sex have their devotees but seldom ensure a regular output. Money is a sharper stimulus, as Dr Johnson averred and the conscientious bankrupt Scott demonstrated.

A strange vogue emerged in the 18th century of using strychnine as a stimulant. As the poet E C Bentley, a former leaderwriter of this paper, wrote of Jonathan Swift: "He took two minims/ While writing of the Houyhnhnms." Swift may be the better writer, but for aspirant authors gravity boots are safer. 

In case readers are wondering where I got the inspiration for the title of this blog entry, it was sitting at a desk drinking coffee. And it shows.