Harry’s Ramblings. How’s Your Bad Back
by Harry Pope
I can’t understand why we have an obsession with dusting. If you dust, then there’s only going to be some more there tomorrow. I suppose it goes back to Victorian times, because maids had something to do with their time, and dusting was an ideal way to occupy them. Run fingers along a surface to see if there’s any dust equals a clean, nice and tidy house. Any dust on surfaces meant that you were in the presence of a slut.
In a way it’s all about being house proud, because this instinct is instilled in us since we became civilised. Before we had houses, who cared if there was dust. Then roofs came on buildings, dust settled on surfaces, dust must be bad for you, so it must be removed. But what does dust consist of? Part of it, and only a small part, is human skin, so every body sheds some degree every single day. If you leave your windows open, then it’s obvious that other people’s skin is going to settle on your surfaces. What a cheek, take your own dust home with you, we don’t want it in ours. Contrarily, there’s small amounts of plant pollen in dust, hence the more you allow in your house, the more prone you are to hay fever. But if you remove the dust, where are you taking it to. We can’t have nasty dust and nice dust. It can only be one or the other.
So it’s down to perception, either you like dust, or you don’t. but the very act of dusting implies that you are getting rid of it. How can you? Some concept is you gather the dust in a duster, then shake it outside your front door. But if you do that, it’s only going to come back in through your open window. So why dust in the first place.
If the wind is in the wrong direction, it will bring volcanic ash with it, creating more dust to slowly creep in through your ever-open window. Is volcanic ash nice dust, or nasty dust. Don’t know the answer, it depends on what it tastes like. I have never knowingly ingested volcanic ash, but having researched this article it seems as if we all have, at one time or another. You might think that Mount Etna, or Mount Washington, or any other volcano, is a long way away, but winds are pretty powerful, so you just never know.
Minerals from outdoor soil are also minute dust particles, but are they quite so small that experts would have us believe. I’m not so sure. That wind gets everywhere, picking up all kinds of things along the way, so as I live very close to the seafront here in Eastbourne on the south coast, then unknowingly I must be full of sand. Of course, this is nice sand, washed twice a day by the tides, so I don’t mind that kind of dust. But there is also sand from Libya, nothing personal against the country, am sure it is full of lovely people, but do I really want to breathe in dust that has once settled on roaming camels? I don’t think so.
And then there’s human and animal hair in dust. That must be pretty well broken down by the time that wind brings it through my window, but come to think of it I have seen some hairs floating on still air, thinking, hey, I wonder if that’s one of mine, no couldn’t be, it’s not white, and I am almost bald. It’s too short to be one of the wife’s as well, so it must have come in through the window. Why do I bother opening the window in the first place, the atmosphere is full of hair, volcano dust, and Sahara sand.
According to Wikipedia, there’s also burnt meteorite particles. Now where did they get that one from. Yes, of course I appreciate that we must all love our meteorites, but why should we let them deposit their matter on us, with the implication that as well as all the strange things we manage to insert into our bodies one way or the other, there’s also stuff dust from outer space. And where has the meteorite come from? Has it arrived from a far off galaxy, or somewhere close to earth, such as that nice moon that shines so bright now that we don’t have so much interference due to that nasty virus.
One third of all pollution very likely comes from roads, in other words the transference from motor vehicles into our lungs, so the closer you live to traffic jams, the more likely you are to suffer from bugs that nestle inside you, saying ‘feed me with more exhaust and bits of tyre.’
And to return to the title of this article, ‘How’s Your Bad Back,’, dusting is also bad for you. My lovely wife, much against my best advice, decided to dust the fireplace in the living room. It’s black base with an off-white surround, with some heavy china ornaments. While bending over, a protesting muscle decided to give her pain, which has lasted for almost a week. So my advice to you is the same to her. If it settles, it’s not now doing you any harm, it’s the getting there that is not good for you. So let sleeping dust lie, and let your back get better.
Harry Pope has written a book called Buried Secrets. It’s all about his time in the funeral profession, full of amusing anecdotes. Buy it on Amazon, £2.99 for the e-version, or £6.99 for printed.