Today my usually smart clothes are streaked with grey. I want to  

brush myself down but that would be counter productive…it will only

 return to plague me again. It is dust.

         I hate dust. It is the bane of every housewife and househusband. It is relentless. It makes us into sluts without us doing anything. We go on holiday, have a lovely time, we clean the gite from top to bottom before we leave and come home to a house covered in dust. It calls out to us with an evil sneer, “You can’t escape the chores. Relaxing and holidays are not allowed!  Look at me, this house is in a mess!”

         Dust is universal. The Queen has dust at the palace; the prisoner has dust in his cell. No one can escape dust. Charles Darwin, sailing aboard The Beagle noted that dust fell on the ship even when it was thousands of miles from land. Dust can be carried in the air from continent to continent. Given particular conditions cars in Britain get covered in red dust, blown all the way from the Sahara. I even read that rally driving in dusty deserts was stirring up such huge clouds of dust that is causing pollution in other continents.

         Dust is always grey. It never ceases to fascinate me that whatever the colour of carpets and soft furnishings the dust produced is always grey. Dust consists of soil particles, flakes of dead skin, pollen grains, bacteria and viruses and carpet fibres amongst other things. Some of these are amazingly beautiful. Computer generated pictures of viruses are fantastically complex and colourful. Pollen grains are unique to the plants they come from. Individual pollen grains take many diverse forms such as tiny sea urchins and miniature hand grenades. How is such beauty reduced to a grey gritty powder?

         Dust can travel in all directions and is as good at gaining entry as the best burglar. It gets into every crevice. It gets behind clocks and under cupboards and down inside empty vases. It gets into glass covered bookcases and on top of lampshades. It can cling to vertical walls and collect on cobwebbed ceilings.

         Dust embarrasses us. A friend of mine always manages to run her finger over some surface in my house where I haven’t dusted. Once she even wrote her name in my dust on one particular shelf. Dust calls forth emotional resolutions to clean more often. However, seeing dust in other people’s houses can create feelings of superiority and pride, that our dust is not quite as thick or at least not quite so obvious!

I once read that the latest health fad in Sweden was pills that contain garden soil. Apparently soil has an abundance of micro-organisms that we need for effective digestion. If someone can make their fortune from selling soil pills, I wonder if I can put my dust to good use? After all it contains bacteria, viruses, pollen grains and soil particles which in small quantities would almost certainly give a boost to the immune system. There is the theory that living in environments that are too clean has caused the rapid increase in allergies. So therefore dust is good for you! But not of course your own dust, because you have already been exposed to all your own bacteria and soil micro-organisms.  But my dust could be just what you need to give a burst of vitality, a lift up to better health!

Perhaps I could turn my dust into an asset? When I feel people are looking rather too closely at my dusty surfaces, I can say,”Oh yes, haven’t you heard that dust is very good for you? Would you like a finger full? Maybe I could even market it as genuine household dust. I could franchise my ideas and become the first Dust Magnate! My epitaph would read, “From dust she came, dust was her life and after death she returned to it!

P.S. After one year of living in a rented house, we moved into a house we had bought. On moving day I was horrified to see the amount of dust that had collected under the beds and furniture after just one year. Our French friend said that they have a name for balls of dust – moutons -wooly sheep! I am now convinced that there is more dust in France than in the UK. The fact that there is is name for balls of dust and that they grow so quickly.

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