The judge who declared last week that there was no such thing as RSI (Repititive Stress Injury) has caused a great deal of real stupefaction and incomprehension (or, as you might say, RSI) among many members of the legal and medical profession, especially those who have been treating this condition for some time. How, they ask, can a judge really come to the conclusion that long-term repetition of certain actions cannot lead to physical deterioration? What, at the very least, about Housemaid's Knee and Tennis Elbow? Will there now be a flood of angry cases brought by housemaids and tennis players?
The truth of the matter seems to be that the judge in question may well have been suffering from RSI, or Repetitive Sentencing Increment. This is a condition affecting older judges who find they have to increase sentences to get the same effect that they used to get. That is, a judge may well have to send someone to jail for ten years to get the same buzz that a five-month sentence for the same crime used to give him. And concomitantly he finds that he comes to distrust the evidence presented to him more and more, and to turn down claims which in previous times he would have listened to sympathetically.
But there are many more forms of RSI than this. If you are trying to fight your way through the nightmare of modern life, or are simply a judge trying to conceal the onset of Alzheimer's, you may like to cut out and keep this guide to the various kinds of RSI now on the market.
Regimental Salvation Instinct. This is a sort of mania which seizes ex-soldiers at about the age of 50, after which they become convinced that if their old regiment is renumbered, renamed or given an oil change, it will mean the end of civilisation as we know it. In fact, many of them cannot stand civilisation as we know it, but this has never deterred them, or cured them of RSI.
Religious Search Impulse. At about the age of 40 or 50, many people start to be prey to feelings that they are getting nearer the end of their life. This is quite normal and indeed logical. But in some of them it takes the form of feeling that there must be more to life than this, and then it can take the quite alarming shape of converting to Catholicism, becoming a fanatical born-again Christian or even becoming very keen on opera. There is no cure, and the patient may linger for up to 30 or 40 years with no pain except to those round them.
Roger Scruton Imbalance. Roger Scruton became known in the 1980s as a right-wing intellectual, a sort of thinking person's Margaret Thatcher, and thus got a huge amount of work from being invited on discussion programmes and chat shows in the absence of any other intelligent representative of the far right, even though nobody was very sure what he was saying. Nowadays, when Birtism is obsessed with every BBC programme being well-balanced, and with all the characters on a discussion having cancelled each other out, a discussion which has no right-wing heavyweight is said to suffer from RSI, or Roger Scruton Imbalance.
Repetitive Scientific Interest. Belated recognition by an arts personality that science not only is interesting but probably has more bearing on the future than the arts. Melvyn Bragg is a notable example on his Start The Week programme.
Rastafarian Sandwich Institute. Chief official caterers for the Notting Hill.
Richard Stilgoe Imperative. This consists of a maddening urge to turn every name you see or hear into an anagram. Occasionally it can flower interestingly, as on the most recent edition of Radio 4'sThe News Quiz, when Stephen Fry announced that Virginia Bottomley was an anagram of "I'm An Evil Tory Bigot ". Exhaustive research with pencils and bits of paper reveals that he is absolutely right, though any junior hospital doctor could have told you the same.
Rare Scientific Interest. An area of RSI or rare scientific interest is one in which scientists rarely show any interest, such as Stephen Hawking's ideas.
Republican Stronghold Interview. A live statement from an IRA leader of a kind which has been totally banned from the media by the British government, thus leading to the present immense peace and calm in the six counties.
Reserve Strength Illusion. The conviction that if the eleven footballers you have picked for a team play badly or get injured, there will be another eleven ready and instantly available to do better instead. Graham Tayl,or is the most famous sufferer from this sad condition.
(Send for free factsheet with many other kinds of RSI explained, including Respighi's Symphonic Illusion, Ronnie Scott's Innuendo, etc etc)