The topic of the night in the Parrot household was spitting. (Keeping our end up in the political/philosophical debate, d’ y’see.) The reason was the ManU v Cheslea game on the box and the perennial objection to footballers gobbing.
From Mrs P at least. “You don’t see Paula Radcliffe spitting and she works much harder than this lot,” she said. Oh..kay. So Paula doesn’t spit, but we know what she does do and I haven’t seen any ManU players doing that, if you exclude the way they’ve played all season.
The point is a good one though. For kids watching footie live or on telly take the players as role models, despite what they might say about Wayne Rooney, so if they spit, so shall we spit. Hence the pavement is a mixture of gob, goo and discarded chewing gum.
But this suggests a lost golden age when blokes didn’t spit and that we have entered one of resurgent barbarism of expectoration. I don’t think that’s so. I’m old enough to remember signs on the top floor of the bus that said, “Please Do Not Spit.” (The wags rearranged this into a Paula moment, but let’s not go there.)
And that’s the way it was. When I was “courting” a common enquiry was, “As’t spittin’ in fire yet?” Mostly we weren’t, but the question was synonymous with “feet under the table,” as in acceptance by the family of your heart’s desire. It was tantamount to a proposal of marriage. Or carnal knowledge.
Anyway, the point is that it was an out-moded concept, one handed down from an earlier and hornier-handed industrial relative. From the ones who worked in mines and factories, laden with coal dust and asbestos as it was. They spat into coal fires because they had to. Physically.
It didn’t quite endear one to parents in the age of gas-fires and the three bar electric.
There was a point to the earlier warnings though, and it was simple one — spitting spread diseases, notably TB. Given the propensity for footballers for spitting and the increase in the cases TB today, Andrew Wakefield and the Daily Mail could have a field day.