A NEW trend in the USA called ‘soap-dodging’ – a carefree attitude to personal hygiene that’s already well established in the UK was reported by The New York Times recently. Research by tissue manufacturer SCA found 41 per cent of British men and 33 per cent of women don’t shower every day, with 12 per cent only washing properly once or twice a week.
And Mintel found more than half of British teenagers don’t wash every day, just a quick spray of deodorant – figures placing the UK behind Australia, Mexico and even France in the cleanliness stakes.
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Now, the UK has form here. Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, claimed the reason her tribe were able to hold off the invading Romans for so long was because, whereas the Romans used hot baths and were consequently “soft” and “flabby”, the Ancient Brits just washed in the stream keeping them tough and hard. (Drinking real ale, not poncy Roman wine was another, but we digress.)
Surely things have improved in the intervening centuries? Apparently not, it seems. Take a friend of mine who emigrated to Australia in the 80’s and was constantly teased about pommie bathing habits. Comments like: “My tongue’s as dry as a pommie’s towel!” (thirsty), and “where’s the safest place to hide your money in a pommie’s house?” – “Under the soap of course!”
When she recently returned to the UK, she couldn’t believe what she saw – or smelled. And how phobic many Brits still are to personal hygiene. Living in flats that don’t have a shower you could drown a mouse in, co-workers who smelled of stale beer and sweat, and a smelly Tube which at rush hour makes you long for a head cold.
Now, maybe some think they’re saving the planet by inflicting others with their stench and grime. They’re not. They’re just being smelly. If that’s their contribution to a greener planet, we’re all good and stuffed. If they really want to do something positive, they should ditch the car, walk, use public transport. Stop flying. Stop using plastics and non-recyclable containers overloading landfills for centuries. Live in a yurt and raise free-range, pot-bellied pigs (for Waitrose or posh locals who’ll happily pay for anything “organic”) in the woods where nobody will notice just how filthy they are.
The New York Times apparently has form for reporting bogus trends. Maybe inventing trends is a trend. Maybe publishing rubbish is also a trend. Either way, the homeless will doubtlessly be thrilled to be way ahead of this “soap-dodging” one!
Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca