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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Left in limbo: Refugee children in a processing centre in Brownsville, Texas  

Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Rupert Cornwell
Harman has said her gender affected her employment  

Gordon Brown could have had a woman as deputy PM. He bottled it

Joan Smith
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?