In Australia at the moment, there is a bit of a row going on because childcare centres have been ordered to not allow a child to blow out the candles of a birthday cake that is then to be shared around.
I didn’t think about the custom when I was small myself, but now… It is a horrible custom, especially as small children have a strong tendency to blow rather wet! Imagine a beautifully decorated and so-tempting cake that looks absolutely delicious – and then some three-year-old blows out the candles - simultaneously spitting all over it. No thanks! When my children were small, they either had individual cupcakes with a candle on each, or just a written ‘four’ or ‘five’ or whatever. They don’t appear to have suffered for the deprivation. (If you think they might, just toss an extra couple of lollies on the icing as decoration. I’m sure that will console them.)
But basic manners of food hygiene seem to be being forgotten these days. Look at all those cooking shows. Masterchef, where the judges take a spoon each and eat from the same dish. Sometimes a dozen contestants doing the same thing. There must be a colossal wastage of food on these shows – surely they can afford a serve each of whatever is to be sampled! And you see the cooks preparing the dishes – they seldom seem to wash their hands or hesitate to handle the food with their hands when surely, a spoon would do.
The rules that were instilled into me as a child. They are common sense. Food handlers should not ignore them.
1. Wash your hands before eating. Surely that’s basic.
2. Wash your hands before doing any food preparation. Basic. If you go to the toilet or handle anything not clean, then wash them again.
3. Do not eat food from the same bowl as other people, or drink from the same glass, or lick from the same ice-cream. You are only sharing germs. This has not changed in the last ten years, no matter what you see on TV.
4. Do not lick the spoon and put it back in the stew unless it is for yourself alone. Do not drink from the milk carton that is to be shared. Maybe a more modern rule should be not to share a joint. If you have to be so stupid as to smoke a joint, then you should have one each.
We are all exposed to various germs as we go about our day, but that does not mean that I want yours. Do not offer me food that has not been hygienically prepared, and if your child has just blown out the candles of his birthday cake, sorry – I don’t want any.
Ian MacKender liked to boast that Penwinnard Boys’ Home was the best facility of its type in all of the UK, and perhaps the world. But whatever he could do, the best he could do, his boys still longed for true family.
Young Sid very much wants a new mum and dad, and is willing to put a great deal of effort into finding one. He is goodlooking enough, ‘passable,’ as he is told, but as he says rather too often, ‘You gotta have manners.’
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