Who wants to eat pizza off pristine parquet?

Share

If cleanliness is next to godliness, as we were always taught at school, where does the Almighty stand on the delicate question of dust? Scientists have just come up with the theory that certain bacteria present in house dust are beneficial to children suffering from asthma. Since most of the kids I know, including two of my own, are asthmatic, it is clear that the sooner we lay down our dusters and unplug our vacuum cleaners the better and the healthier we shall all be.

If cleanliness is next to godliness, as we were always taught at school, where does the Almighty stand on the delicate question of dust? Scientists have just come up with the theory that certain bacteria present in house dust are beneficial to children suffering from asthma. Since most of the kids I know, including two of my own, are asthmatic, it is clear that the sooner we lay down our dusters and unplug our vacuum cleaners the better and the healthier we shall all be.

I've never been a great one for housework. The highest compliment my mother ever pays anyone is to describe their house as so spotless you can eat off the floor. Who wants to eat off the floor? I'm less interested in floors than food, and in my experience, the sort of women who spend hours servicing their floors spend no time at all preparing food. Given the choice of eating microwave frozen pizza off pristine parquet or home-made shepherd's pie off a dusty table, I know which I'd rather.

The crucial question of course is when does healthy dust become unhealthy dirt, and then again, what exactly is dirt? The other day in the supermarket, I filled the special see-through bag provided with four croissants from the loose bread section only to be reprimanded by a woman beside me selecting organic wholemeal baps for not using the bread tongs. "I couldn't see any tongs," I said irritably. "Besides, since I only touched the croissants I've taken for myself, I don't see what difference it makes."

"Oh, but it does make a difference," she insisted, waving the bread tongs in my face. "You may not actually have touched the other croissants, but how do you know that the dirt from your fingers hasn't dropped on them and contaminated them?" How indeed, but then, how do you know that the assistant with his back to you at the fish counter hasn't sneezed all over the cod fillet you're just about to buy?

You have to take certain standards of hygiene for granted otherwise you'd end up as loopy as the acquaintance who came to stay recently. She'd barely unpacked her suitcase before she asked if she could possibly borrow a dust-pan and brush.

Getting up in the middle of the night, I heard a noise. I discovered her in the kitchen boiling the Brillo pads and J-cloths. "Don't mind me, it's just one of my little foibles," she said cheerfully. "I always do it. It makes me feel more at home."

Now I come to think of it, it was this very house guest (used to be a neighbour) who almost persuaded me to go halves with her on an incredibly expensive German vacuum cleaner that had just come on the market. You couldn't buy it in the shops, she explained, they sent a special technical adviser to demonstrate it in your home. From Germany? I said, impressed. Well, no, from Godalming, but he was certainly a persuasive salesman. His machine was so powerful, he said, that it could remove a kilo of body ash from the mattress of a double bed in less than five seconds.

Body ash? Yes indeed, said the man from Godalming, who had clearly played this scene many times before. Body ash is the dead skin that we humans shed all the time, particularly in our sleep. Our beds are full of it. He fixed a special nozzle to the machine and five seconds later, emptied a bag full of what looked like mouldy flour on to the floor. Ugh! we said. Body ash, he said triumphantly.

Now he would show us the special attachment for dusting our walls. It was attractive, light and portable and most of the women who tried it described it as great fun to use. "Gosh, yes, it is," enthused my neighbour, dusting furiously.

I didn't go halves with her. Call me a killjoy, but my idea of fun isn't sucking body ash from my mattress or dusting my walls with a handbag. I want to live. There's a great big dirty world out there waiting for me.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power