Saturday, 4 June 2011

Expectoration

To copy the words of Stephen Fry, "I am angry. I am really angry. I am so angry I can hardly go to the lavatory". The cause of Stephen's anger was that he'd lost a sock. Mine is because I've really had enough of people spitting.

Yes, I know that there are probably more important things in the world that I could be ranting about, but just at this moment I can't think of any. Why am I suddenly so angry?

The dislike of spitting is not a new thing; I have always disliked it, but today, dislike turned to anger. I was sitting on a seat in town enjoying the sunshine and a take-away coffee - yes, I was back outside the Gala Casino. Two young men came outside the Casino for a smoke, and after almost every drag of the cigarette, they engaged in the act of expectoration - forcibly ejecting saliva from the mouth  (Spitting). It was disgusting.

Now, I heartily agree with Albert Einstein when he said, "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it". I should have spoken to the young men, but in my pathetic defence they were much bigger and younger than I am; they would possibly have taken no notice, and may well have hit me. So I moved.

You see people spitting on the pavement all of the time don't you? And it's not just the young. If you Google saliva, and click on images, you are presented with some horrific sights. While watching football on television, you are constantly assaulted with close-ups of players spitting on the grass. Sometimes I'm surprised that the referee doesn't have to call off the match because of a flooded pitch. Have you seen American Baseball as well?

Generally, western society at least has moved on a bit from the Middle Ages, when frequent spitting was part of everyday life, and at all levels of society. It was thought ill-mannered to suck back saliva to avoid spitting, but by the early 1700's it had become seen as something which should be concealed. Wikipedia says that by 1859 (why such an accurate date?) many viewed spitting on the floor or street as vulgar. In addition to its vulgarity, spitting can spread diseases and infections such as tuberculosis, influenza and the common cold. It also looks disgusting.

Now I am perfectly aware of the importance of saliva to the human (and animal) body. In a healthy person, the salivary glands secrete about 2 to 4 pints of spit into the mouth every day. It is important for such things as;
  1. Saliva wets food and makes it easier to swallow
  2. Saliva helps begin the process of digestion
  3. Saliva cleans the inside of the mouth and rinses teeth to keep them clean
Spit is therefore highly advantageous to the human body, but that's where it should stay, in the body, not forcibly ejected from it.

Lastly, human saliva is 98% water; it won't do you any harm - swallow it.

I apologise for the unpleasant nature of this Blog, and I can only hope that you haven't tried to read it while having your tea. But you see, I was so very angry. But I'm better now.

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