I microwaved my broccoli and guess what fell out? | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

A few years ago there was a theory that we were all becoming too sanitised. Children weren’t playing in the dirt enough.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 6:36 pm
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 6:36 pm
Hand sanitiser has changed our lives...

There was a general belief that seemed to say some germs were good and if we didn’t have them then we’d end up getting ill.

A selection of studies found most of that thinking had little grounding and the reality was, we would still get colds and viruses and it was probably quite a good idea to get children to wash their hands before dinner and keep our homes with clean(ish) surfaces.

We were all ticking away with the push and pull of the concept of the germ until the past few months (nearly two years now!).

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Now we have sanitation on a whole new level.

At work, it used to be that if somewhere ran out of hand soap it was annoying.

Now I think people will pass out or at least send a strongly-worded email to everyone letting the entire workforce know how unacceptable this is.

I’m used to, indeed I expect, to have bacteria gel around now.

I’ll even recognise it if a new one turns up with a nice smell.

In fact, I have found myself putting multiple squirts of gel on my hands while talking to someone. I think it was a nervous, I-must-look-busy, overreaction.

That’s everyday life now.

Poor people who get colds now have to go through the process of letting everyone know they have a cold. Just to deal with the staring and judgment.

If you have a cold, you have two choices. Hide. Or wait until it gets better and wear a mask all the time until you’ve finished hacking and sniffing.

With all this new sanitation a seemingly small event caused horror in our house this week.

I had batch-cooked some (far too many) shepherds pies and no one really wanted them.

They had become the food equivalent of ‘I simply can’t be bothered'.

I was forcing another selection on to plates accompanied by the now hugely popular broccoli which I had microwaved (I know, no water added, just microwave, three minutes 30 seconds and you’re done).

I served this reluctant delight and we all tucked in.

However, just before my wife had finished her last few mouthfuls a rather large, microwaved caterpillar dropped out of her greenery.

It was a whopper. She glanced up. I caught her eye. The eyes communicated, ‘say nothing or this meal is over and they’ll be a riot’.

My eyes widened at the size of the cooked creature. The daughter spotted my eyes. Looked at my wife’s eyes. Looked down at the plate.

Then the screaming started. Nothing more could be eaten.

Try as Mrs Newman might to play it cool and claim that it didn’t matter, no amount of poking around could persuade her to swallow another mouthful. We were in freefall.

The Spanish Inquisition started over whether the vegetables had been washed (of course not, the microwave sorts all that out).

There were claims that broccoli could never be eaten again.

There was outrage that the additional protein hadn’t been spotted. It was a moment.

My feeling is that we may have become too clean. Too sanitised. Too fussy.

Could it be we’ve all travelled too far down the road of hygiene and we can longer cope? Have we become a nation obsessed?

The answer. No. A massive fat caterpillar in your evening meal is just as off-putting as it was 100 years ago.


There are moments when you either experience something so good or you see something so funny you feel compelled to pass the message on. This state of mind boils down to the word ‘evangelism’.

This used to be a word reserved for religion. However, over the years, I’ve seen this word used increasingly in other sectors.

I was recently sent an email from a company looking for a Product Evangelist. Unsurprisingly the company was based in Silicon Valley, California.

The role seemed to include travelling and being unrelentingly enthusiastic. I think the word ‘evangelist’ works in job ads and it communicates what’s required and the level of excitement needed for the role.

Being British, I rarely fall into the desire to be an ‘evangelist’ for anything. Indeed, the brilliant comedian Bill Bailey said something like this, when you ask an Australian ‘how’s your day?’ They reply ‘awesome!’ If you ask a Brit, they reply ‘could be worse’.

It’s a cultural thing. In order to go against my culture, I will enthuse right now about this product. It made me laugh straight away and I instantly gathered the rest of my family to take a look. I saw it via an email news alert.

The Yorkshire pudding manufacturer, Aunt Bessie, has launched a – wait for it – Yorkshire pudding-shaped dog bed! Take a look online. It’s hilarious. It also comes with toy carrots and peas to keep the dog amused. In a world that seems so serious. The plus side here is the bed is raising money for the charity Guide Dogs.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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