The Auntie Doris Years: 1928

Alexander-Fleming-penicillin-631That Alexander Fleming was a filthy so and so. I always imagined that all scientists employed a cleaning lady to see to their laboratories. I think Alexander Fleming must have sacked his cleaning lady because she rubbed out some important equations he had been doing on his blackboard or something. Scientist’s cleaning ladies were always doing that. My Mother was a cleaning lady, at the local nonconformist chapel. There weren’t any blackboards full of equations there, although she did once knock the numbers out of the hymn board and put them back all muddled up. That Sunday the Congregation tried to sing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” whilst the organist played “Go, Tell it on the Mountain.” The organist then tried to change to what the congregation was singing at the exact same moment that half the congregation tried to sing what the organist had been playing. It was complete chaos. Nobody knew whether they were coming or going. But by all accounts, Alexander Fleming’s Laboratory was a complete ruddy tip. Worse than our John’s house. There were petri dishes full of staphylococci and streptococci, and goodness knows what, all piled on top of each other at great risk of cross contamination. There were open parcels of cheese and jam sandwiches that his Sarah had made him, and he had said he had eaten, only he hadn’t at all. Unbeknown to her he usually went down to the Crown and Anchor and had a pork pie and pickled onions. There were ancient cold cups of tea, and discarded underwear (after the notorious laboratory Christmas party of 1927) and there were mouse droppings, and cobwebs and all sorts. It stank to high heaven. And in the midst of all that Chaos, he goes and discovers penicillin. Apparently, one day the pub was closed whilst they laid new sawdust in the smoke room, and he ate one of those old cheese and jam sandwiches in desperation. Later that afternoon, he noticed that a terrible red

sore he had had on the end of his todger had all but completely healed up. So he did a few calculations on his blackboard, and discovered that the mould on the jam in the sandwiches was in fact penicillin. So another fabulous invention of the 1920s turned out to be the work of a Scotsman. First Laird Bogie with his television, and then Fleming with his penicillin. You have to hand it to the Scots, they are not short in the brains department. No wonder they want to be independent of us ruddy English who keep voting the Tories in. Auntie Doris’s pop Pick of 1928: “Nagasaki” By Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra. It’s a ruddy shame the Americans had to go and drop an atom bomb on a place where all that happens is the fellas chew tobaccy and the women wicky wacky woo. But that’s American foreign policy all over isn’t it.

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