If cleanliness is next to godliness, I am one streak of snot away from being cast down into the raging inferno of Beelzebub.
It’s not that I intend to get slowly covered in a smorgasbord of stains when I get up in the morning. In fact, as I pull on freshly-washed top and trousers, I will often send up a little prayer to Persil, the god of clean clothes, to protect me from the onslaught of smears, dribbles and moist debris that seem to be attracted to my person. But my plea mostly falls on deaf ears.
There are the obvious, intentional stains. My delightful older son is at the root cause of most of these, particularly when he has a cold. There is nothing, repeat nothing, more utterly hilarious to a three year old than wiping his dangling pendulum of snot on my sleeve. And boy, is that stuff sticky. I should be collecting it all into small tubes and flogging it as a miracle glue to stick plane wings onto fuselages. If I don’t get to it with a damp cloth within ten minutes, the drying process takes effect and it transmogrifies into a substance harder than concrete and more abrasive than a Brillo pad. There have been the odd occasions where somehow, he has managed to decorate my sleeve with nose slime without me noticing, and it is only when I bend my arm and there is a curious cracking noise that I realise that Bogey Boy has struck again. (Now there’s a superhero if ever there was: Bogey Boy, who fights evil and catches baddies, embalming them in sticky ropes of snot so they can never escape. Just stand well back when the buggar catches a cold though).
And then there are the baby stains. I don’t know what the collective noun for these is – a spatter of baby stains, perhaps – but all I do know is that I have a tendency to collect them, frequently. Shoulders are the most at risk, absorbing milky dribbles and flecks of sick as I carry B around. I am often seen sporting that most common part of a mummy’s uniform -the asymmetrical sicky epaulettes. But the baby stains can pretty much appear anywhere, without warning. I can get up from a chair, my arm brushing my trousers, and I can suddenly feel a wet patch that wasn’t there ten minutes ago. Or I can scratch my face and find it peculiarly damp. Careful investigation then ensues, with a tentative smell and a close-up inspection. I’m like Poirot with a muslin cloth, me.
Added to which are the general splats and splashes as a result of opening yoghurts, poking straws into juice cartons whilst foolishly allowing them to be held by a three year old, oh, and the fine spray of mucus from a baby sneeze, creating an impressive circumference of glistening globules given the tiny nostrils it exits from.
Barely an item of my clothing makes it to the washing machine without being doused in a liberal spraying of Vanish. Or Shit Out, as I prefer to call it. I am not sponsored by Vanish, more’s the pity, but credit where credit is due: I have yet to meet a stain, regardless of whether it originated from nose, bottom or mouth, that cannot be eradicated with the stuff. I’m thinking of carrying it around with me in a holster for rapid deployment. It certainly removes all stubborn stains I know of. It could only be improved one way, really. Stubborn stains are one thing, but if it could remove stubborn toddlers? Now that would be bloody marvellous.