The Great Hygiene Con.
The need for clean? Cliff Hatton washes his hands of the entire concept.
For me to admit to being no scientist would be the all-time statement of the bleedin’ obvious, as John Cleese might have put it. More to the coming point though, I am no chemist. Neither am I an engineer or a surgeon. Most of us aren’t, but that doesn’t mean we have no interest in the everyday effects of such disciplines. As lay people ( which, I suppose, we all must be, given that nobody can be good at everything) we have the luxury of seeing things in black and white, of being able to comment on specialist subjects unhindered and unbiased by the minutiae and the politics.
This is no bad thing. An inability to see the woods for the trees is the fundamental all-too-obvious-to-the-bloke-in-the-street cause of so much dissatisfaction with those we elect to represent our interests.
A classic though very simple example of this would be the matter of dog-owners who allowed their pets to defecate anywhere and everywhere: why did it take from The Big Bang until around 1995 before the wise ones in local government realised that a soft-centred canine ‘Richard’ all over the Cyril Lord was not a vote-winner? But back to not being a chemist, the luxury of ‘laymanity’ and, of course, the fishy connection.
Look…( It helps here if, for just a few seconds, you picture Alf Garnett sitting in his threadbare armchair and poking his pipe at the Scouse Git) like it or not, we live in a capitalist society, don’t we? (Stop imagining Mr Garnett now, then continue…) With few exceptions it is profit, the desire for greater personal wealth and, yes, downright greed that gives rise to the incredible choice of products available to us today. Hold on! Don’t leave me! Despite the system’s extremely ugly warts it does work, rather well some might say.
Are you still with me? Now, the implications of what I’ve innocently touched upon are, I believe, explored rather well in a book called Das Kapital by a Mr K. Marx so I’ll make my humble contribution to the rapidly diminishing debate brief and, to your relief perhaps, relevant to our lot as anglers.
Now…how do I put this to the genteel readership of Fishingmagic.com?
Right…When we take ourselves off for a day, a weekend or even a week on the riverbank, personal hygiene isn’t exactly up there with the camera, the waterproof matches and the spare batteries, is it? Staying fresh and socially acceptable doesn’t really give cause for concern, does it? No.
I’ve no doubt at all that somewhere within the eccentric, lunatic fringe there are those who arrange the delivery of a Victorian Military wash-stand plus bowl and pitcher to their swim, but for most of us it’s not an issue.
Back in Civvy street as local government officers, welders, dinner-ladies, company reps or whatever, cleanliness is a natural and top priority in our everyday lives. But on the riverbank? Come on now, we can talk…you’re in good company…Do you pack a handy box of Johnsons Anti-Bacterial Wipes for use after baiting your hook with maggots or worms? Are there rubber gloves in your tackle-bag for when you break out the ham sandwiches, pour a coffee or peel an orange? Is your chosen sprainting-point equipped with soap-dispenser and Initial roller towel? Of course not. For decades you’ve probably taken either a small hand-towel as I have, or nothing at all.
But when was your last bout of dysentery? I bet that pallid network-engineer down the corridor has been off half a dozen times this year…and that secretary who grimaces at the mention of fishing – she’s got a drawer full of potions, tablets, wipes, inhalers, sprays and drops. She and the I.T man had roughly similar weekends…shopping, gym, Homebase, the video-store, pub-lunch on Sunday before returning to rot in front of ‘Big Brother – The Highlights’…a few drinks in the evening, then bed.
You? You spent Saturday night under a brolly in a state of wild exhilaration, hanging on to the pole as a warm but ferocious summer-gale whomped across the lake at 2am. At sunrise, you slooshed-out the aluminium billy in the shallows and knocked-up a Rotarua of bubbling, hissing porridge, stirring all the time with your soup-spoon…A hungry rodent was sent on its way with a well-aimed pebble. Typically, the bobbin rose for the first time in hours just as you lifted the first spoonful of oats to your mouth. Quickly placing your bowl on the gravel, you reached forward and struck into a hard-fighting tench. Ten minutes later, with your catch unhooked and back in the water, you resumed eating your morning meal, then an apple you exhumed from the depths of your rucksack.
In need of sleep (for you had, of course, been actively fishing throughout the night) you laid-out a groundsheet and crashed-out until mid-day, ready for the drive home.
Back in Acacia Avenue, your first routine job was to ‘bin’ the rubbish you’d brought home; living in a flat you use a large communal container that betrays the lifestyles of your neighbours…Antiseptic Wipes ‘Suitable for all kitchen surfaces’…Antibacterial Wipes ‘For sinks, baths and loo-bowls’…Toilet Duck ‘Gets right under the rim’…Loo-Bloo ‘For a fresher, brighter loo’…CIF ‘Kills 99% of all household germs’…VANISH ‘Brings a sparkle to your crockery’…
This is madness. Neither you nor Planet Earth needs all this stuff. Imagine, if you dare, the produce of all of the worlds’ cleaning-fluid factories by-passing the shops and consumers and pouring directly into the seas, rivers, lakes and water-treatment plants. It’s horrifying. They spend a little time sitting innocently behind the toilet-bowl or in the cupboard under the sink, but eventually the endless river of unnecessary pollutants will find their way – in one form or another – to our seas and watercourses.
In search of ever-higher profits to satisfy the demands of their shareholders the biggest companies invest mind-boggling sums promoting their products to billions of well-meaning, conscientious, clean-living mums and dads convinced by now that The Plague could well re-emerge from their kitchens unless they BUY! Think of all the packaging, the fuel consumed in manufacturing and delivering this stuff to the shops and the effect on Mother Earth and the depletion of her life-forms. Consider the problems of disposing of all those spent plastic containers…the back-filled lakes and pits, the nuisance of extra dumper-trucks on the road.
No, I am no chemist, just an ordinary guy brought up in a clean and healthy home by a loving mum who kept us safe and well turned-out.
In our house, you would have found soap in bar and powder form and a bottle of 3-Hands disinfectant. It didn’t cost much either, and that’s the root of the problem!
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