Bookmark and Share

Wednesday 27th April 2005

I got a last minute commission to write a piece for the Guardian about men's attitude to hand washing, in light of Michael Howard's slip-up in hospital on Tuesday, when he neglected to wash his hands between shaking hands with two patients. He'd cleaned his hands three times on the visit, but just forgot on the one occasion. Those patients should be grateful: the rest of the electorate risk having their hand shaken by him without knowing where they last were (my guess is that nine times out of ten they have just been dipped into a pie made of dead babies which Howard has bought off a witch and which he scoffs without cutlery). At least the second patient would only be getting the germs of the first.
Of course thanks to two and a half years of doing this rubbish, knocking out 400 words in an afternoon is not a Herculean task for me, though obviously I had the unexpected luxury of being able to revise my work and sharpen it up a bit, something that is not the case for the stream of consciousness that is "Warming Up". I am trying to get a newspaper column based on this site (as well as a radio and TV version - let's see if I can squeeze every drop out of this thing), so hopefully doing little quick articles like this one will help that cause. With a bit of luck I might become a professional blogger, who makes extra money playing poker (or being sponsored by poker) on the side. That would be my ultimate dream. Unless the internet shuts down or gets replaced by something better and then I'd be out on my arse.

This is what I ended up writing:
“Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” asks one of those painfully hopeful Conservative adverts, “I mean, how hard is it to keep a hospital clean?” An email doing the rounds shows the graffitied response, “Well, considering hospitals are full of people carrying highly infectious viruses…”
It’s a shame Michael Howard hadn’t checked his inbox on Tuesday. On a visit to a Neurosurgery hospital he neglected to clean his grubby mitts between shaking hands with two patients. In this election campaign it is ten times worse to have germs on your hands, than blood. It wouldn’t matter if Tony Blair forgot to wash his hands - everyone is refusing to shake them anyway.
Even though Howard actually cleansed with alcohol three times during the visit, this momentary lapse seems destined to mark him, in toilet terms, as a walker not a washer.
But is he really different to any other bloke? Check out any gent’s in the land: the only surface not coated in effluent will be the gleaming wash-basin. Although there’s no toilet roll, the soap dispenser is miraculously ever full.
Men don’t wash their hands. What’s the point? They only get dirty again. Some people drink their own urine, so a spot or two on our fingers can’t hurt none. Personally I have more respect for those religious sects who wash their hands BEFORE they go to the toilet. They’ve got their priorities right.
I’m sure that even when male doctors scrub up pre-operation they pull that sarcastic face which says, “I wouldn’t be doing this if my mum hadn’t forced me.”
Because as kids it was drummed into us to lather up before and after doing everything, lest we were floored by some bizarre mixture of dysentery and the Black Death. Yet we quickly discovered, through eating mouthfuls of soil and cocktails of our own bodily waste that the truth is that dirt makes us immune to germs. So we just ran the tap for a while to appease our eavesdropping mothers and kept our hands in our pockets. No wonder when our only hand washing role model was Pontius Pilate? Not washing hands has harmed no-one. Washing them killed Jesus.
How about this trying this, Michael? “Are you thinking what we’re thinking? It’s cleanliness in hospitals that’s causing MRSA.” You’d get 100% of the male vote and the money saved on antiseptic wipes could fund all your crazy tax cuts."

Bookmark and Share



Buy my new book/ebook/audiobook "Would You Rather?" (get stickers and a signed bookplate from gfs. Also available as a very different audiobook with the brilliant Stevie Martin
Help us make more podcasts by becoming a badger You get loads of extras if you do.