Friday, 16 March 2012

Dirty foreigner

You don't get a cough in Italy, you get bronchitis. My daughter and I didn't just share a delightful 24 hr tummy bug, oh no, we had gastroenteritis. This is a nation seemingly doomed to suffer horrific illnesses with complex-sounding Latin roots. You know when you get a slight cold but your other half gets pneumonia? Well, this is man-flu on a national scale. If an Italian wants to commit suicide, they don't jump off a cliff, they sit in a cold draft on a hot day - those dastardly cold drafts will get you every time.

The other enemy to Italian health is bad hygiene. In our past life (ie: that mysterious time before we had a child) our bidet, which was right next to the loo, was always stacked with magazines. Now, we use it for Isabel to wash her hands - obviously, she's only 85cm tall so she can't even see the basin. Too many Italians I know would faint from shock if I told them that we very, very rarely use it for its original purpose. Call me a stinking slime bag of a rotten-dirt-caked foreigner, but I have a shower everyday rather than just washing various select parts each morning. I'm a human, not a cat. I'm also not inspired by the leading brand of 'intimate soaps' (what? is it going to become my best friend? share secrets about its love-life over hot cocoa?) which happens to be called 'Chilly Gel'. No thank you very much. I've got this far in life with out ever needing special soap down there and I'm certainly not going to start applying one that markets itself as 'chilly'.

Of course, today I committed the most heinous of all bad hygiene crimes. Isabel dropped her biscuit on the ground in the park and, wait for it, I actually picked it up, dusted it off and gave it back to her. I was thinking '5 second rule', but I could hear the other mums in the park take a collective sharp intake of breath that practically sucked the very leaves from the trees and all simultaneously take a step away from me, covering their off-springs' eyes in shame and horror. In my defense, and I know I'm massively tempting fate here, Isabel learned to crawl in the park and spent the entire crawling-to-walking phase face down in the dirt, licking odd stones and teething on bits of twig. Despite this (and this is where I'm teasing Mr Fate) she's only ever had two very slight bouts of 'gastroenteritis' in her whole little life, a couple of cases of 'bronchitis' and the odd cold (sorry, 'influenza').

However, there are limits. I caught her trying to drink from a puddle on the way home yesterday - thank you Peppa Pig - and even I had to draw the line at that. No dog poop or cigarette butts either (forget the bidet issue, there's a couple of truly filthy habits) but anything else goes. She's also already in her light-weight Spring coat which will no doubt cause untold havoc to her delicate bronchial tract and this, coupled with her inexplicable insistence on not wearing a wooly hat when it's over 15 degrees, will probably lead to a fever (ie: slight temperature). We'll all be house-bound for weeks but it'll be much safer, as at least the house is a totally sterile environment. Well, it would be if the lady of the house was Italian.

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