- At dinner-time we landed among a party of Fuegians. At first they were not inclined to be friendly; for until the Captain pulled in ahead of the other boats, they kept their slings in their hands. We soon, however, delighted them by trifling presents, such as tying red tape round their heads. They liked our biscuit: but one of the savages touched with his finger some of the meat preserved in tin cases which I was eating, and feeling it soft and cold, showed as much disgust at it, as I should have done at putrid blubber. Jemmy was thoroughly ashamed of his countrymen, and declared his own tribe were quite different, in which he was wofully mistaken.
- In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty. A smear of soup on a man's beard looks disgusting, though there is of course nothing disgusting in the soup itself. I presume that this follows from the strong association in our minds between the sight of food, however circumstanced, and the idea of eating it.
I was down with Pat the Salt with his daughter The Beloved last weekend and she discovered a tin of fancy biscuits at the back of one of the kitchen cupboards. She passed these round at 'afternoon tea'. As no vicar was expected we didn't have cucumber sandwiches. aNNyway, Pat poked around in the tin looking for something from the 1930s (when he first met chocolate biscuits) and TB baulked: You have to take the first one you touch, Pat, she said. Clearly the protocol is the same as playing championship chess. If I reflected too long and imaginatively on whether the towels and door-handles were 'clean', why I'd get nothing done when I'm down there. You may bet that he doesn't regularly take 20 seconds [sing happy birthday through in full twice] to wash his hands after using the toilet. I don't, you don't; only pediatric nurses and surgeons do. But you/I/we all should do that; anything less is just a waste of water. Dame Sally Davies, the UK's Chief Medical Officer CMO [equivalent of the US Surgeon General], shows how and why you/I should do that at the end of her lecture to The Royal Institution. Don't watch if you worry about the future in a world without antibiotics. I've mentioned this before . . . and given the Happy Birthday rule . . . but also have given an alternative view.
At the end of the last century, when I was working in TCD, the department stumped up for tea and biscuits at 1100hrs every morning M-F. The biscuits were presented in an old Christmas biscuits tin. We had a post-doc from foreign who would root through the biscuits picking up several with her fingers eeeeuw! before making her decision. Why did I specify the from foreign back there? Am I a closet racist? Probably! But I would have been equally 'disgusted' if Cathleen ni Houlihaun herself had picked over the biks in that manner. Except that she wouldn't because, in Ireland, we don't do that.