Ooo, I'm all over itchy...must be time for my monthly bath.

There was a time not so long ago when bathing was thought to be the cause of many ills and was to be avoided if at all possible...but it was also thought that smoking tobacco was an excellent aid for asthma and other breathing problems and cancer was so rare a disease that your Doctor would have invited his colleagues to come and have a look at you if you were unfortunate enough to contract it. Especially breast cancer...once so rare an occurance that women who did have it were asked to become 'teaching aids' for would-be Doctors.

Going a little further back in history to the 15th and 16th centuries, everyone drank beer...including children. The water was dirty and unfit to consume and the beginnings of the connection between dirty drinking water and disease was just beginning to take effect...so it was much safer all round to drink the beer that most people brewed for themselves

If you were of the upper classes of society and had good furniture, then it was polished with raw beeswax twice a year at most and only if the servants were willing to take on the real elbow grease which coating the wood and then buffing it off entailed. Now we whizz round round with a tin of Pledge or Sparkle and breathe in the fumes of chemical 'Apple Blossom' while rubbing our televisions and chipboard furniture to a high glossy shine.

Hams were hung in the fireplace to slowly smoke until dry...no-one ever thought of adding nitrates and water and preservatives...whatever was the point...the woodsmoke preserved the ham so you couold eat it all winter long with no harm. Now we are told not to eat processed meat too often...it causes cancers.

Your pig was fed on acorns from the forest and scraps of food from the table...potatoes boiled into a mash...they didn't need to eat special foods with added minerals and vitamins and the all important preservatives...they were killed swiftly without any foreknowledge of their fate, so the meat wasn't tough or stringy from the excess of adrenline caused by fear..

And everyone...children and women and old and young men smoked...they smoked tobacco in clay pipes at work and in the fields and at funerals and weddings and American Wakes and when a baby was born and when driving the donkey cart to the weekly mart. But tobacco was simply...tobacco...it wasn't adulterated in any way...it didn't come from a suspect factory in the outer reaches of China...it wasn't pushed across a counter in a slightly dodgy back street shop or exchanged for pennies in a 'pub.

The people of a hundred or so years ago died from diseases we have conquered...T.B. typhoid, smallpox...and many others are no longer a common cause of death...we have heart disease and cancers as ours...and how many of those are caused by our lifestyles...eating heavily processed foods rich in fat and chemical preservatives and smoking tobacco which has been adultarated with heavens knows what...we use washing powder which carries a warning to rinse your hands throughly after contact and we spray air fresheners and polish about with gay abandon and then wonder why we suffer from breathing problems and have over active children...though I personally think an over active child has too little to do...we eat rubbish actually. Crisps high in fat and salt and packet cakes which last for months before their sellby date and bread which just never goes stale no matter how long it's in the breadbin...

If it were possible for you to live more simply...without biological washing powder and blue stuff in your loo and ham sandwiches for lunch with a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and if you could clean your home with nothing more than vinegar and baking soda would you be willing to do so? Could you perhaps go backwards and resist the allure of the air fresheners promising a scent of orange blossom and remember you don't need an oven cleaner...just lashings of baking soda left overnight...could you manage without a loo blue block and pour a hefty dose of vinegar down your toilet instead to flush away the limescale and those awful germs in the morning...could you have your bath with a decent handful of lemon balm straight from the garden or a pure essential oil rather than the manipulated chemical cocktail of a 'proper' bath essence...

I'm not Little Miss Perfect...I like Dove bath stuff which promises me softer skin and smells delicious...and although I'm careful about which washing powder to use sometimes it's only the tough biological stuff which will tackle the grime on Himselfs jeans...I'm not prepared to stand at the sink scrubbing you see...

And while I'm fighting a battle to beat the addiction I have to tobacco, I'm just a little bit envious of those who came before me who smoked the evil weed without a care in the world because presumably their baccy was simply that and was never adulterated with crap from heaven only knows where or what.