Mother’s Lament

baby Firstly I feel the deep need to congratulate the reporter on an excellent two paragraph story. That’s right, two paragraphs is all you need to get anything said, to instill mirth and leave a long lasting impression. OK, so it’s not hard hitting journalism, but no doubt it will be shared worldwide and not forgotten!

Apart from the fact that the child involved was born with the surname Snodgrass… (a name I though was just made up by Roald Dahl) it really is the most daft situation. I mean, only in Yorkshire are they STILL using what is essentially a Victorian mop bucket… and the fact that the child is so happy and not distraught at the possibly they may just become the mop woman of Conisbrough is just weird. .

One also has to question why Mum was filming WHILST driving… not the smartest move, but then I’m not sure intellect is something high on their family trait list… Would you publicise something that is clearly a personal matter? When your child gets a bit of Lego stuck up their nose would you go to the press? Isn’t it embarrassing enough that you have to walk into A&E with your child stuck in a bucket???

So most children visit A&E at least once for something daft, so I won’t ask how this happened-with kids you never know what was quite going on in their cute little curly haired heads at the time… Obviously it seemed like a great idea to Millie and no doubt it fits into some Piagetian stage somewhere… So I won’t ask how it happened…

However, one further thing that slightly bothers me about this is that the photo looks decidedly photoshopped… especially the head… it seems so unreal… perhaps I am just totally unable to accept the possibility of a child getting stuck in a bucket… perhaps it is photoshopped and it’s all a big hoax… or perhaps somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales in a small village where wifi is still non-existant and people still use wooden handled mops children really do get stuck in mop buckets…

The whole story reads to a soundtrack of ‘Mother’s Lament’ by Cream.

A mother was washing her baby one night
The youngest of ten and a delicate mite
The mother was poor and the baby was thin
‘Twas naught but an skeleton covered with skin

The mother turned ’round for a soap off the rack
She was only a moment but when she turned back
Her baby had gone, and in anguish she cried
“Oh, where has my baby gone?”, the angels replied

Oh, your baby has gone down the plug hole
Oh, your baby has gone down the plug
The poor little thing was so skinny and thin
He should have been washed in a jug, in a jug

Your baby is perfectly happy
He won’t need a bath anymore
He’s a-muckin’ about with the angels above
Not lost but gone before

Antibacterial Nightmare


Last night I caught episode 2 of the BBC2 programme “The Men Who Made Us Spend“. Both fascinating from a psychological and consumer perspective it left somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth about the fakeries of the pharmaceutical industry.

However, the overwhelming thing that stuck in my mind was less to do with Statin over-prescription and anti-aging and more to do with the advertising of antibacterials.

Having been brought up in the countryside by a mother who felt that a little (or rather a lot) of mud never did anyone any harm I have always held the opinion that the increased use of domestic antibacterial cleaners were to blame for the growing numbers of children with allergies and respiratory and digestive problems. It seemed to me that the near eradication of bacteria from within our homes was leading to lower levels of protection from and tolerance of those that cause infection.

BUT, a simple experiment performed by a scientist at the School of Tropical Diseases and Medicine showed that, in fact, antibacterial soaps are no more effective than ordinary soaps. Does this mean that my long held (and often discussed at length) views were indeed incorrect?

When I was at school children suffered with the usual colds and occasional sickness bugs (especially in the boarding houses), but generally few children were off sick at any one time and it was not often that they took more than a couple of days off a year.

Ten years later, whilst working in an inner city London secondary school, I was surprised by the large numbers of children who had allergies and asthma and others that missed quite substantial amounts of school due to illness. Of course I am aware that firstly, illness from school is not always illness and secondly, the environmental situations have a definite impact. City living will always mean more chance of catching illnesses and disease simply by the larger number of people one comes into contact with. Adding to that traffic fumes and poorer diets environmental conditions certainly have a role to play.

Nevertheless, when I talk with friends and family still living in the country they too agree there is an incline in childhood illness. Is this due to parental over-protection? Due to better diagnoses by GPs? Or something else?

How did I arrive at the conclusion that antibacterials were responsible?

I believe that at some point information on increased antimicrobial use and antibacterial use has been mixed up in social consciousness. I am not the only one to have come out with things such as “children are more ill these days because their tolerances are lowered by obsessively “clean” mothers”. It seems to make sense and yet it is looking like a bit of a “young wives tale”.

Antimicrobial use has been greatly researched over the past decade or two and there are numerous articles and studies that demonstrate how the use of antimicrobials can lead to resistance by bacteria: European antimicrobial resistance surveillance as part of a Community strategy. There are campaigns to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed by doctors to limit the growing resistance: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the lists of pathogens that are growing in resistance is enough to terrify you:

So is the cause of increased child sickness a result of those old-school GPs getting happy with the ‘script pad and doling out antibiotics for every little illness? Perhaps this going a little too far?

I still believe that a bit of dirt never did anyone any harm and when I have children I won’t balk at the first sign of mud. I won’t spend my days washing floors and walls and worrying if my child dropped it’s dummy on the floor and then stuck it back in their mouth. Maybe I will be wrong not to worry, but all I can go on is my own experience. I was nicknamed “Munty” (Muddy) because that’s what i called myself after playing in the mud, I was rarely a sick child and still have a fairly high tolerance to the colds that fly around London. Nonetheless, I will continue to use Dettol (because i love the smell of it) and wipe my counters down with Flash so and so spray – why? Because the man on telly told me to…