| 8.6°C Belfast


Lindy McDowell

As we’re engulfed by the coronavirus, maybe we’ll finally give cleaners the credit they deserve

Lindy McDowell



Close

People are being urged to wash their hands to the tune of Happy Birthday (Brian Lawless/PA)

People are being urged to wash their hands to the tune of Happy Birthday (Brian Lawless/PA)

People are being urged to wash their hands to the tune of Happy Birthday (Brian Lawless/PA)

If only we'd all had the advantage of economic foresight - and a few quid to spare - we could have cleaned up on coronavirus.

How rich would we be now if we'd bought stocks in hand sanitiser, face masks, tagliatelle and Andrex?

The short answer to that is the hackneyed (but nonetheless valid) old line about your health being your real wealth.

In which case we're talking about "cleaning up" in the more literal sense.

Even before Boris Johnson took it upon himself to explain how to wash your hands I was always a bit zealous about germ eradication.

I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm full blown OCD but, as the experts might put it, I'm somewhere on the spectrum.

I think a lot of people are.

I hate and avoid where possible the following: ATM buttons; lift buttons; supermarket trolley handles; those vile plastic wheelie baskets which some stores have (and which have so much crud in the bottom you could grow tomatoes in them); escalator handrails; handrails in buses and trains; hand driers in public toilets, public toilets in general - I could go on and on here...

I know I'm not alone in this. I've seen other women using their jumper sleeves to open the toilet door. I would never do that myself. The germs! On your good jumper! Better to hang back and wait for someone else to open the door with her sleeve.

When you think about it - and in recent days most of us have been forced to - our modern world is a grubby, germy universe.

And it's only when the likes of coronavirus descends upon us that we have cause to think about those who are front line in our defence against incoming bacteria.

And no, I don't mean Boris and Trump.

I'm thinking of that vital worker people often condescendingly refer to as "the wee cleaner".

Without the wee cleaners we'd be stuck (possibly, literally to the floor). Cleaners, in my estimation, never get the credit they deserve for helping to keep the rest of us healthy. One recurring line in news reports this week following confirmation of various coronavirus cases has been that the workplace or public building involved will be subject to "a deep clean".

Is there such a thing as a shallow clean? Should there be?

It's a bit like that line you hear when something bad happens and politicians and police chiefs all assure us that they're now going to "redouble their efforts". Maybe if they'd redoubled them in the first place the bad thing could have been avoided?

Avoiding coronavirus as we all know was never going to be a realistic possibility. And we all now know it will get worse before it gets better.

It has already impacted on all our lives. I should be writing this in France - I'd booked to go there with a big group of friends to see the rugby. The game was postponed but we were going anyway. Then we all decided to cancel. Common sense prevailed.

Because it's not just about getting the bug yourself. It's also about passing it on, spreading it to others who are more vulnerable.

How scary this must be for those who already have health problems, and for those who love them and worry about them.

There are so many people we have cause to be grateful to for what they're doing - and will do - to get us through this. Medical staff obviously. Workers maintaining essential services.

But back to those cleaners in our hospitals, offices, workplaces, shops, schools - you name it - without their efforts too how much worse would this crisis be?

Maybe one good thing that will come out of the coronavirus emergency will be a new appreciation for the importance of the job they do.

That instead of being regarded as well down the workplace hierarchy, "the wee cleaner" will get the respect she or he deserves.

It's no coincidence that, when Florence Nightingale revolutionised nursing, her priority was good hygiene.

The Lady with the Lamp understood the crucial importance of the lady, or gentleman, with the mop.

Candid and brave Janet an inspiration to all

Close

Janet sharing the YouTube video, detailing her struggle to get sober

Janet sharing the YouTube video, detailing her struggle to get sober

Janet sharing the YouTube video, detailing her struggle to get sober

This week's disclosure by singer Janet Devlin that she's suffered from alcoholism - and is beating the disease - is genuinely moving. "I hit rock bottom early in life," is how she candidly puts it.

A beautiful and talented girl, from the outside you'd think she had it all. But fame isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Janet suffered from shyness and loneliness and the usual insecurities of the teenager compounded by her success. By bravely talking about this, she's a true inspiration to others.

Don’t lose touch with our sense of humour

At least we can still laugh... coronavirus has brought us a few comical moments this week.

Like the pic of the Italian man walking around with a three-foot-wide cardboard circle around his waist to ensure social distancing.

Or the video of the Chinese barbers trimming customers' hair with a shaver attached to a broom handle. One barber was washing a guy's hair with what looked like a scaled-down yard brush.

Brings a whole new meaning to "wouldn't touch them with a barge pole".

Bad call by Dupe of Sussex to spill guts during phone hoax

Close

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London. Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London. Yui Mok/PA Wire

PA

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London. Yui Mok/PA Wire

Just how daft is Prince Harry? This week it's been reported that he was hoaxed by a couple of Russians who conned him into thinking he was chatting on the phone to Greta Thunberg and her father.

The pranksters look like burly blokes. I'm not sure which one did the Greta voice.

Anyway, Harry enthusiastically bared his soul to them covering his views on other royals: "We are completely separate from the majority of my family." Donald Trump: "He has blood on his hands." World leaders in general: "Some very sick people." And his controversial Uncle Andy, who's currently in the royal version of self-isolation: "He's completely separate from me and my wife."

It's not so much that he fell for the hoax - all is us have been gulled at one time or another - it's that he talked so freely to a couple of strangers.

Who, as it turned out, were even stranger than he assumed.

One of the Russian funny men said it appeared that Harry wanted to get a lot of his chest. Nothing new there.

In recent months the Prince of Petulance has given the impression that he's a volcano of self-pity just waiting to erupt.

There was a ludicrous moment during the prank call when he discussed with 'Greta' relocating penguins from the South Pole to the North. Pick up a penguin?

Harry was too busy emoting to notice the alarm bells. And we must assume this is just the start of his gut-spilling.

Brace yourself, Your Majesty.

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph