Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 17th 2015 Contents The first time I went to Eng-
land I was astonished to
discover that the manager of the
University of Bristol flat where we
stayed was immensely proud of
the bathtub inside the apartment.
Returning from the States where
every apartment in the city of
Baltimore had at least one shower
and bathtub, to clean Trinidad (in
those days), I expected more from
the so-called motherland. Yet here
was this smelly Englishman
pointing out this tub (no shower)
with two taps, one for cold water
and one for hot, that is after you
put in your 10p to get electricity
for light and hot water.
Not being accustomed to put-
ting money into a slot to get
power, the first time the electrici-
ty went we thought it was a typi-
cal Trini outage, made some noise
and were properly quieted when
told what to do. Savages!
The second shock was the
smell. Not only of the patients
but of the ordinary Englishman,
in the bus, in the tube, in cafes
and restaurants and even some of
the medical and nursing personnel
on the wards. I had been warned
by several of the English-trained
nurses at POSGH that there was
nothing worse-smelling than a s,
hairy, old Englishman and sister,
was that true.
To some extent that is a matter
of sweat glands, which Caucasians
and people of African descent
have in profusion, while Asians
have less but as I soon learned,
most people did not bathe daily. I
have to confess that I soon fell
into that category. It was so cold
(even in August) and I was doing
so little physical work that I was
not sweating much.
Then the tub! Accustomed to
showers, I felt like a whale in a
swimming pool, heating the water
took time and then you had to
cautiously sit down, spoon water
over your body and soap. Then
you had to get the soap off! I
managed by inducing my eight-
year-old daughter to pour water
over me. It took time and effort
to bathe and didn t seem worth-
while, until my mother began to
So it was interesting to read
some facts about cleanliness from
the book titled The Dirt on Clean,
by Katherine Ashenburg, which,
though written from a very west-
ern and upper-class orientation,
cleared up some colonial miscon-
ceptions about dirt and cleanli-
ness in England and Europe.
Until about 1930, few houses in
the UK had anywhere to clean
yourself. In fact, the word bath-
room appeared in the Oxford
English Dictionary for the first
time in 1972! When Victoria took
up residence in Buckingham
Palace in 1837, there was no bath-
room. She bathed, whenever she
did, in a portable tub. Lady Diana
Cooper, at one point called the
most beautiful woman in England,
was born in 1892 in Belvoir Cas-
tle.There were no bathrooms until
1906. You washed in a bowl and
you washed your face and hands.
Occasionally your feet. No men-
tion is made of other, more "deli-
cate" parts of the body. Even
though the so-called "backward
races of the East" (Arabs, East
Indians and Chinese) had been
using toothbrushes and toothpaste
for centuries, it was not until the
1930s that such instruments came
into widespread use among the
upper classes in Europe.
Halitosis and other foul smells
were widespread even though the
socialist writer George Orwell
could write in The Road to Wigan
Pier in 1937 that the secret heart
of class differences in the West
was that, "The lower classes
smell." The aristocrats at least,
washed their faces daily. Menstru-
al pads appeared in the 1920s.
Before the invention of Kotex,
women used cotton cloths or rags,
which they washed and reused.
Actually the idea of personal
space went hand in hand with
personal cleanliness and BO or
Body Odour. The maverick Roman
Catholic priest and philosopher,
Ivan Illich, believed that the
French Revolution (1789), where
the idea circulated that every man
deserved his own bed, was an
important starting point in that
evolution. "In a world where peo-
ple regularly slept in the same
bed with their family or co-work-
ers or fellow guests at an inn,
where you emptied your bowels
at a public latrine with no
dividers between you and the
other users and might expect to
be buried in a mass grave, that
was a radical step towards dignity
It was also the first step
towards the loss of our common
humanity and the development of
that most modern of diseases,
But in Europe, as opposed to
the USA where the Methodist
phrase, "cleanliness is next to
godliness," became the order of
the day, progress was slow. Fifty-
five per cent of American houses
had a complete bathroom in 1940.
On the Continent only ten per
cent of Italians had a bathroom in
1931. Twenty years later in France,
in 1954, only one house or apart-
ment in ten had a shower or
Things have changed, you say?
Take a tube ride in London, nuh?
In 1998, a French publication,
Francoscopie, reported that the
average French person showered
or bathed 4.4 times a week, com-
pared with 3.7 times a week for
Britons and 3.8 for Italians. More
recently a number of polls report
that half of French men and 30
per cent of the women do not
use deodorant. As for putting on
fresh underwear every day, 40 per
cent of French women and one
on four French women don t.
Like Napoleon, they must know
something. Returning from a
campaign, the great man is reput-
ed to have written to Josephine, "I
will return to Paris tomorrow
evening. Don t wash."
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago
Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training (TEST)
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago invites citizens to apply for
financial assistance pursuing post-secondary or undergraduate studies.
resident of any other country.
tertiary level institution.
GPA of 2.00 if they have been enrolled in the
programme of study for more than one academic year.
NOT hold a previous bachelor's degree.
MUST be accredited by the Accreditation
Council of Trinidad of Tobago (ACTT).
institutions provided that:
relevant to the current development needs of the country
provide supplementary financial support in circumstances of need and
is not intended to be a student's main source of funding and is a ONE
TIME ONLY assistance:
MUST BE at the post-secondary or
Trinidad and Tobago are not eligible for funding under this
with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and sign an undertak-
ing to serve and undertake employment within Trinidad and
Tobago for a period as determined by the agreement upon
successful completion of the programme of study.
with a duration of nine (9) months and over.
6. Approved financial assistance is non-transferable to another
programme of study or academic institution.
Committee shall accord priority to applicants undertaking studies
undertaking studies in areas identified as a high priority for
publish the names of applicants selected for financial assistance.
Applicants must consider and accept the terms and conditions of
the financial assistance being provided.
official visit to the applicant's home to verify information.
Applicants are assessed based on the following:
expenditure and commitments.
to pursue the programme of study.
financial assistance please visit the
Application forms can also be collected at:
APPLICATION FORMS ARE NOT TO BE COPIED.
LATE APPLICATIONS, AS WELL AS INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS,
WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.
THE LOW-DOWN ON DIRT...PHEW!
DAVID E BRATT, MD
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