Susan Morrison: Keep the hanky to yourself

There's no telling when you might need a hanky but keep it to yourself afterwards. Picture: Getty Images

There's no telling when you might need a hanky but keep it to yourself afterwards. Picture: Getty Images

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Who leaves the house without an adequate supply of hankies? Surely no-one is so immune from the horror of a suddenly leaky nostril that they would fearlessly sally forth without a handy packet of tissues secreted about their person?

I trust we can all agree that we have moved on from the days when a sleeve was considered suitable?

Who would even chose to travel sans hanky? A tissue has a million uses beyond a discreet wipe of the nose. Spilled coffee, dropped milk and running eyeliner all benefit from a quick application of a Handy Andy. I’ve seen presentations written down, contracts fleshed out, mobile numbers exchanged and I think the script of at least one terrible British sitcom entirely written on a hanky. I’ve watched teen tears mopped and a toddler entirely disinfected by just one tissue.

Why, I’m working on a giant super-absorbent arrangement that can be dropped from helicopters to mop up oil spills. In fact, we could probably drop it over entire cities. You’re not telling me that there London wouldn’t be improved by a good old blaw.

Yes, a hanky is a friend indeed, particularly if you happen to be a young man, possibly Danish, sitting opposite me on the train and you have a touch of lurgy. It goes without saying that being male, young and a touch man flu-ridden, my fellow passenger was making a serious amount of noise and none of it pleasant.

My patience cracked at Kirkcaldy. There’s a line you rarely see. The Mucus Chorus was building towards a thunderous crescendo.

In an effort to have some peace and quiet, I silently handed over a paper handkerchief. It probably did look a tad sinister but, on the plus side, it was a balm tissue. All the more gentle on a nose demanding love and attention.

Our rattlin’ lad was surprised. I wasn’t. It confirmed what I have long suspected, that those with headphones on have little realisation of the heinous racket they impose on others.

He took my balm-impregnated paper handkerchief, blew long, loud and glorious, and then carefully folded the soggy mess together and politely handed it back to me. Perhaps it’s a Danish thing?

It would be wrong to say I glared at him. I stared at him, aghast, until he put the hanky in the bin.

It’s one of the perks of becoming a mum, I think. You get lifetime membership to the hanky-carrying sisterhood. There’s not a mum out there who hasn’t waged war on the endless lava flow issuing from a small child with a cold.

It is actually quite remarkable just how much gunk your average three-year-old produces. It’s even more remarkable that George Osborne hasn’t found a way to sell it on the international markets yet.