Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Soap Bubbles

It is blog posts like this that keep me out of Wikio Religion and God-bothering rankings because they dilute my pious message of Godly things. Then again, posts like this grant me an opportunity to be grumpy - and it has been a while, after all!

Now, I am still young (had I mentioned that?) so can still remember some of the things of childhood. Poking poos with sticks, mucking around in buckets of green-tinged stagnant water that are already inhabited by mosquito larvae, digging holes in the mud with bare hands, carting the festering cadavers of post-mortem sparrows with glee, man-handling worms and bugs, burrowing into one's nose with one's digit, bum scratching, ear-picking - and then the best of it all: tea time. That was childhood for me. Grubby, messy, germ-ridden, filthiness. And then tea. Where I come from, by the way, 'tea' is the meal you eat in the evening (and a drink that the elderly drank), as distinct from 'dinner', or that most bourgeois repast - 'suppah' (even now, I have never knowingly eaten a 'suppah', and 'dinner' is of course what you eat at dinner-time, not tea-time. Get it?). No, tea was our end-of-the-afternoon-before-bed feast. 

I know that you are wondering where I am going with this. I doubt you can predict the waffle of my mind, so explain I better had. 

The thing is this; childhood is, in my modest opinion, to do with playing with dirt and then eating food. Schooling fits in somewhere and church too for some of us, but dirt and food largely sum up childhood. I can remember once, gleefully carrying the long-dead Mr Sparrow of the family Sparrow around my Nan's garden in a macabre requiem procession (I was liturgically minded at six). Then, I'd be called in from the yard for tea, maybe wash my hands (but maybe not, to be honest) and then tuck in to sandwiches, crumpets or eggy-bread. 

And then Reckitt Benckiser (the makers of the soap-thing you see here) come along fill the minds of all parents with dread fear that their kiddies are in mortal danger not from the vile diseases that exist in rotting garden birds, or the bacteria that revel in a cat-poo house - no, the greatest peril to the fabric of our society is, my dear friends, the spout on a soap-dispenser. So terrible is this risk, that if you are a parent of any decency, you must buy a 'No-Touch' Soap Dispenser. Why? So that after poking poos and the giblets of dead things, you may not - before you wash your hands - get germs on them from the soap spout. 

Is it me? 

And it doesn't end here. Oh no. The makers of those odd bottles of foul-stinking purple detergent that you lob under the rim of your lavatorium would tell you that it is to kill germs in there. Marvelous. Marvelous because only yesterday I was saying to Mrs Acular how long it had been since I last used my porcelain trumpet as a Tandoor oven and baked naan bread in it. Only the week before I had pondered how long it had been since I last served my kids' dinner in the toilet. 

I think that we, the buying public, are certifiably stupid. I do. I bet that eight-million sensible folk, with one accord, all believed that the greatest peril to our offspring is in the germs we acquire just before we clean the germs off with the expensive soap that is really good at killing germs off of our hands ... just before we fling a rib-eye in the loo and bob for it like an fair-ground stall. Frankly, I am surprised I survived past the age of seven. Frankly. 


  1. ROFL! Blow Wikio rankings if it means missing posts like this! You ought to meet DH and hear his views in that ad :-) In my northern childhood we had tea with grubby hands too and I'm still here to remember it all. I blame overfussiness for the rise of childhood allergies myself. Their little immune systems just don't get any testing.

  2. Sadly. I was raised by a mother who entirely foreshadowed the current trend for such things: if my dummy fell on the floor, she bleached it! I suspect that if I'd just been allowed to train my immune system by eating worms and the like I might not have allergies and immune system problems like I do. Daughter was therefore allowed to eat mud and worms and doesn't have hayfever (also was breastfed, another anti-allergenic tactic).

    I agree with you. As one of our colourful local characters always says when he sees one, "world's gone mad, mate!"

  3. I am so glad you posted this!! I was appalled at the ad for this soap dispenser when I saw it on TV - my poor husband was on the end of my lenghty diatribe after seeing it... It is just bizarre that people have become so obsessed with germs. I have friends who carry mini bottles of anti-bac gel with them wherever they go and refuse to let their kids use the loo next to the playground. Having spent my childhood similar to yours, outdoors in the grub I let me kids do the same. And to be honest they are rarely ill. My son cannot even use normal soap as he has eczema and it causes his skin to flare up. He baths once a week max, never uses soap or hand gel (which the school is obsessed with) and he is absolutely fine.
    It's all about money and trades off peoples fears about their children. Another one that gets me, is that ad where the child eats the food off the floor, but as it's just been cleaned its 'ok'. Gosh if mine drop stuff on the floor, they just pick off the cat hairs and eat it anyway... ;)

  4. I really love the ad' that says " *!=^¬ kills all known germs dead". Is there another way to kill them?
    Unless you or your children habitually play in the sewers and then eat your "tea" I guess you're safe for a while yet.

  5. Great post. Having been brought up in the 1950's, we did not have any of this nonsense, but we did have carbolic soap to wash everything in, including hair, body and floors.

    It didn't do me any harm to get mucky, and I actually think that muck was thicker and dirtier in those days (Like Hovis).

    My kids were also dragged up in the same way, although by that time, we had Sunlight soap, which did the same job as carbolic, but smelt nicer.

  6. The no-touch soap dispenser really is a nonsense for a domestic situation. You only need to press the plunger to dispense soap before you wash your hands. You don't need to touch the thing again when your hands are clean. The soap stops coming out by itself. If you touch it while your hands are dirty before washing, why does it matter if it's dirty? A good example of creating a need where none exists. I get grumpy about that too.

  7. It's the one per cent of germs that they don't kill that get you in the end.

  8. VC, the only reason you are not in the wikio religion category is 'cos you haven't signed up for it. Get yourself in there, join the fun, and the other religios who post about things like football, the AV campaign, the Anglican Covenant, and other non-religious subjects.

  9. I used to love playing in the dirt, but ended up with one of my children refusing to touch anything dirty! Couldn't agree with you more btw.

  10. But Carlos, I have I have - many times :)

  11. Thank you to you all for your warm comments and support for my personal beef of the day.

    Before the kids came along, and brought with them the snotty infections from nursery - I was a very healthy geezer, striking a record for sickness of 3 days on 15 years. Nowt wrong with my immune system



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