My mother, that’s her, third cloud on the left centre back most days, will have her hands over her ears but really – I Told You So*. It is an insufferable phrase, she taught me, even if it’s true. Much better to draw breath, shut up and smile quietly.   (I wonder if ma knew what Schadenfreude was ?) And most of the time I do. But two things last week were too much to bear in silence – though I am very grateful for the public airing of both of them.

The first was some British scientific research indicating that there may be (quelle delicatesse!) a correlation between the consistent ingestion of over processed food and certain types of cancer.   The combination of this being science, taken out of context into the public domain, and British prohibits saying something simple like “cut down on over processed food”. That would be seen as prejudicial – to the food industries making a fortune, convenience food in general, buying patterns, the pace of modern life, and the poor.
Of course we don’t call them the poor nowadays, we call them poorer (and they are, than anybody) and we’re all confused about how to differentiate between your being unable to earn more than a certain amount of money, the cost of everything going up round you, what you are entitled to (entitlement alone deserves a whole book) and how much is your fault – enter the politically correct thought police.

The second was some American research which indicated that what are described as “ordinary household products” contain micro organisms which are just as likely to compromise your lungs (and the planet) as anything a busy road can serve up, starting with traffic jams, diesel engines, petrol fumes, every kind of dust and waste. I can’t be the only person who quails at the mention of the word “aerosol”. Something has to be added to make whatever it is come out in the form of a spray. Something else has to be added to stabilise that, for shelf life. Both these putative alternations have to be minimised – another additive ? And so we go on. You have never thought about it ? You’re not supposed to. That’s why they call it “sold”.

After the company changed hands, I recall that a favourite facial cleanser was repackaged. “It’s exactly the same” said the salesperson when I hesitated. “I doubt that” I said quietly. She looked at me as though I had bitten her. “But it is” she insisted and when I pointed out that what you scooped out of a jar was not the same texture as what issued flowingly from a tube, and you’d have to change the formula to make it work like that, she stared at me. “Are you in the business ?“ “General Science at 14” I said” thank you” and left.

I look at those ads about “nose blind” which is a very funny idea but spraying your room to make it smell better ? What ever happened to opening a window ? Soap and water ? Sweeping up ? Soaking sweaty exercise clothes before washing them, preferably in a mild solution of bicarbonate of soda and cool water ?   When Celia Cigarette was still smoking, she bought one of those lozenge fitments for the electrics (“just light it and the air is perfumed for up to 24 hours”).   Well something happened to the air all right and Celia’s doctor asked if she were using such a product – not his first prejudicial experience of such a thing among his patients.

I looked through the list of ordinary household products and I use very few.   I looked through the list of overprocessed food and most of it doesn’t even visit my kitchen. It seems that as I live alone, what others consider usual if not essential, just isn’t to me.   And the moral of the story lies in the only time I have been treated with steroids which were to be taken strictly to time, via sort of puffer though you couldn’t see, smell or taste any difference. But something happened and I got better.


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