Now wash your hands
I am in Brussels again, doing the interviews for ERC Starting Grants. Long term followers of this blog will know that I have moved from a degree of uncertainty about this Euro Research Enterprise to being a huge supporter of it. (Thank God for the EU whose reaction the recession is to plough money into research, not take money away from it.)
All the same, a week at Euro HQ does occasionally give you a hilarious glimpse of the nanny state. Like the step by step hand washing instructions in the ladies' loos. The male members of the team claimed not to have spotted these in the mens' loos -- whether because it was assumed that blokes already knew how to wash their hands, or whether (more likely) they were believed to be past teaching . . .
In fact I have never quite seen the point of those UK loo notices "now wash your hands". Are there really people who were going to give the hand washing a miss... until they see the instructions? In fact, I'm the kind of counter-suggestible type who is actually less likely to wash my hands when confronted with this kind of finger wagging.
But "Now wash your hands" is as nothing when compared what you find in the Brussels Euro loos.
This kind of stuff make me want to shove my hands down the pan. Is there really anyone who turns the tap off with the paper towel?
Is there really a lower rate of sickness at Euro HQ, thanks to all these notices?
But it's a small blot on an otherwise shining landscape. Thank you Frank and Volker for making our stay so productive (if all young Eurocrats are this good, then Europe is in safe hands). And thank you all fellow panel members. It's a picture of our final dinner below (with Jane Burbank and Carlo Ginzburg and Michael Werner in view).
I think there might have been some face-touching. But never mind.