The kids aren't alright

You've about as much chance of seeing a dodo waddling down your local high street as spotting a child with bloody knees these days. Such is our paranoia and zealous over-protection of the little tykes, that they've become like latter day porcelain dolls apparently only serving to be cosseted and caressed into oblivion. Both common sense and intuition tell any sentient soul that this cannot be a good thing.

Scientists have now weighed in on the matter, as is their wont, asserting that an overly-clean environment for a small child can, in some cases, increase its chances of developing leukemia. Blimey, that's simply not on. In the interests of infant health, then, I've been thinking of offering my house out on a short term rental basis to worried parents - a couple of days round my gaffe and your toddler would quickly develop an auto-immune system of cast iron proportions.

It's odd how these things work. No-one in their right mind likes cockroaches but I knew somebody who had an extreme phobia of them. She'd spend all of her free time scrubbing and sterilising her flat until it smelt like a hospital ward in the days when hospitals could still afford a bottle of bleach. Needless to say, one fine morning she woke to discover a little gang of cockroaches hanging out in her kitchen, helping themselves to her cornflakes and, generally, having a ball. Instead of calling Insect Busters, like any normal person, she actually moved house and is, presumably, down her hands and knees as we speak, frenetically cleaning every available surface in her new abode to within an inch of its life. Cleaning is a biennial event round at mine and I've never once had cockroaches, although I imagine they've paused at the door a few times to confer on the matter.

“Hey look, Carlos - I bet there's a veritable feast of Cheesy Wotsit crumbs to be had in here. Yum, yum.”

“Keep moving, lad, we've got our dignity.”

Anyway, back to the children and what to do about their sterile environment. First, I suggest giving them a mud bath once a week. Also, in my experience, Brillo pads work well for knee-scuffing if they're not up to the task themselves and if you find they've gone a few weeks without a runny nose (a sure sign of a healthy child), try dangling them by their ankles and dipping them in the sea a couple of times before making them walk two or three miles back home. In November.

Good, that's the future health of the nation sorted. Now, where did I put that mop?

I really need it to reach the last beer on the top shelf.