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No pampering, just iodine and Germolene for me

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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"I HATE the word 'pamper'. I do a lot of stuff about being brought up in the North by a Northern mother so I was brought up in a pamper-free zone," comedian Jenny Eclair tells our reporter Rosanna Rothery (Journal2).

Redoubtable Jenny is a comedian who cheers you up by talking about her own insecurities and hang-ups. If you're a woman of a certain age and you spot yet another bit of your body erupting, sinking or mutating, you know you're not alone.

As for pampering, it sounds as if Jenny was brought up in similar environment to me. The word "pamper" never crossed my parents' lips. The concept would have been as alien to them as little green men landing in the back yard.

They were too busy trying to make a living to indulge in such namby pamby activities as spa days, pedicures or facials. And the thought that their children might need "pampering" would never have crossed their minds.

Whatever injury you received while outside playing was cured, not by a "kiss it better" but by the application of Germolene (for minor cuts, grazes, rashes, burns and bites) or neat iodine (for more serious afflictions), my father's reasoning being if it didn't kill his horses, then it wouldn't kill us. If iodine stopped a horse's hoof from going septic, then it would certainly sort out a kid's cut. Believe me, you do not know pain until you have had neat iodine poured over an open wound...

No matter how serious an injury I picked up while playing outdoors – broken limbs, blinding, disembowelment by one of my brothers – it would only merit a scathing, "That's nothing!" from my mother as I was shown the door. If both your feet were facing the right way, there was obviously nothing wrong with you.

The attitude was that if you ignored an illness, it would go away. If you fought it off without outside interference, you would end up tougher. If you allowed a bug to take its course, you would be immune to it next time round.

It's an attitude that has stayed with me into adulthood. My reaction to any affliction that strikes me is, "That's nothing!" and I carry on.

The better half was brought up in a similar way. The day after he had taken the tops off two of his fingers and scraped the skin almost to the bone after a nasty accident with an electric planer, he was up on the roof of his factory workshop to replace tiles, protecting his mangled hand by wrapping it in a polythene bag with string around the wrist.

Instead of berating him with wifely concern, I nodded approvingly. I only wished I'd had a bottle of iodine with me.

There was an attitude that it was bad for children to be "spoilt" in any way. So we learned to be self-sufficient, to fight our own battles and to solve our own problems – although our parents were always there if we needed them, the solid backbone to our lives.

Even so, I admit to a certain hankering after pampering. Spending a day not having to think for myself or cook a meal, drive to work or change a lightbulb while I sit in luxury as someone smoothes and soothes me sounds like bliss.

I AM in real grumpy old woman mode today, having spent days trying to soothe a terrified cat as various people in the village have staggered their Bonfire Night celebrations to cover the four evenings from Friday to Monday.

Every year I am reminded of a little rhyme which one of my teachers used to recite: "Guy Fawkes Night has come and gone, but still the memory lingers. I held a rocket in my hand - Has anyone found my fingers?"

Several neighbours who have dogs had an even worse time of it than we did, trying to cope with terrified pooches.

One told me she had heard about an audiobook read by Shakespearean actor Simon Callow. It was designed to be played to dogs to minimise the stress caused by firework displays.

Unfortunately, she didn't manage to get it in time for Bonfire Night but has high hopes for next year.

The free audiobook, called Teddy And Stanley's Tall Tale, was, so the claim goes, scientifically developed to relax dogs so they can sleep, "perchance to dream".

Pet behaviourist Karen Wild advised the star how to read the book, sponsored by More Than Pet Insurance, which tells the story of a towering dog and his smaller friend. She pinpointed the canine-friendly cadence, lengths of sounds, intensities, volumes, frequencies and pitch to capture a dog's attention.

The audiobook is designed to be played to dogs several times in the days leading up to November 5, allowing them to become familiar with the sounds and learn by association.

Next year, could they please do one for cats.

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