Good dirt and dirty dirt, Near Death Experiences and the sufferings of high street bookies and Brexit MEPs

7 July 2019

After my comment last week that the Conservative Party could be about to elect the UK’s first dictator, a friend pointed out what I’d missed, that “Vlad the Poisoner has been able to say … [he was] democratically elected, but in Britain it’s ‘the party’ who will decide the country’s next leader!”

Some recent research has renovated the old belief that dirt helped provide some immunity against infection needs to applied intelligently, supporting my family’s belief in my childhood that there was ‘good’ dirt and ‘dirty’ dirt.  ‘Good’ dirt was what covered your hands after you’d been digging holes in the garden and could be left;  ‘dirty’ dirt was what you got from stuff like dog poo and needed washing off.  Back in those days, when you’d see doctors advertising a particular brand of cigarette, I considered my cigarette ash to be ‘clean’ dirt but now I’m not so sure.

However, the general principle has stayed with me and leads to occasional discussions in this house about which is which.  I’m not quite OCD about handwashing but I’ve seen so many people cough or sneeze, putting their hand in front of their mouth as they were taught to do, then use the same hand to open a shop door or hold a grab rail on a train, that I now tend to wash my hands as soon as I get home after I’ve been out.  However, I have to admit this doesn’t stop me eating a brownie that fell off in my hand while I happened to be in a patisserie inspecting the wares.

This inevitably raises questions here when I do wash my hands after gardening – look, you’ve made the towel dirty, you know what you should do differently don’t you?  There is one obvious answer to this and one ‘right’ one.  “Buy darker-coloured towels” turned out to be the wrong answer.

Anyway, science seems to have gone full circle and has now decided that the odd earthworm won’t do any harm but it is very important to wash your hands properly after going to the loo.  It’s also been shown that germs can live for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces like handles and shop doors.

Have you noticed that germs are now called viruses?  I haven’t actually been feeling ill but I had an irritating dry cough lst week so, because I may have mild asthma, I took it to the quack who said “it’s probably a virus infection, come back if it gets worse”.  In English, this means I’ve caught a germ, they don’t know what, but it doesn’t seem serious enough to be awarded anti-biotics (for this relief much thanks – anti-biotics do tend to make me feel ill).

Which naturally leads me to another comment made by the same friend following my recent article about what happens when you die reminding me that most people who go through Near Death Experiences (NDEs) see very similar things.  These are people who are pronounced dead and are then resuscitated or otherwise come back to life.  Many of them say they experienced being in a tunnel with light at the other end, often with people who are already dead waiting to welcome them;  sometimes they just see somebody near them waiting to help.

I can actually think of several people who I would definitely not want to be waiting to greet me after death but I guess that’s my problem.  I did once have an ‘out of body’ experience one Friday evening after a hard week when I was in my late-20s:  I was tired and slumped back relaxing in an armchair when I suddenly felt that I was looking at the room from the ceiling corner above my head, with me down below.  My only feeling was one of curiosity, there was no fear or feeling that I was dying.  It’s never happened again.

Anybody else had NDEs or out of body experiences?  Or any strange events following the death of someone close to you?

There’s mixed news about bookmakers claiming that one in four of the UK’s high street betting shops are likely to close following the governmental decision that finally overcame the profit-orientated betting lobby to reduce the maximum stake from £100 to £2 on fixed odds betting terminals.  It’s naturally sad that the (wholly objective of course) bookies estimate 12,000 people could lose their jobs but, on the other hand, think of the gambling addicts who will lose so much less that perhaps they and their families will suffer that much less.

But save your pity for the poor Brexit MEPs who were forced to stand in the recent elections and were elected and are now expected to go to foreign places every month or so in exchange for a paltry £90,000 a year.  No wonder they turned their backs when some Beethoven was being played in Strasbourg.  Who cares about being rude when one is sulking.

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