Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Swiss are a Godly people

If cleanliness is next to Godliness, the Swiss must be a nation of Saints. How else to explain the fact that, as part of selling your house, you must submit your house to a hygiene inspection, during which a government official comes and roots through every corner of your house?

'Let's start in the kitchen,' said Mr Swiss and I trotted eagerly after him. I was particularly proud of the kitchen - old postcards and invitations were gone from the walls, so too was the odd blob of spaghetti sauce, vintage 2002. The oven shone, the cupboards were bare. But Herr Schweizer was not impressed. He was too busy unscrewing my taps. "Look", he said pointing to the inside of a pipe I'd scarcely known existed. "All these calcium deposits, you'll have to get rid of them." We moved on to the ceramic hob. Mr Swiss bent over it. I could see his reflection in its pristine surface - he could see something else. He produced a razor blade from his pocket and scraped gently - a tiny black speck floated upwards. "Still dirty", he said.
I'm a fairly fastidious person, at least when it comes to other people's dirt. That is, I'm willing to tolerate a certain amount of disarray in my own house, but find off-putting a hotel room that is at about as clean (or dirty) as my own house. Indeed, I remember crossing from Italy into Switzerland once and just breathing a sigh of relief at coming into such a clean environment. Having said all that, I find the concept of a hygiene inspector not only amusing, but Big Brother creepy. Public hygiene is one thing, since it ties to public health and safety. The type of intrusion into people's private lives that the hygiene inspector represents, however, crosses a line I don't think most Americans would care to see crossed in their own homes.