Pictured here is a human head louse. Ugly little bugger ain’t he. But how did we combat such an ugly foe? This is a job for Nitty Nora – The Bug Explorer!
I am of course referring to the lady in the white lab coat who came every so often to your school to check the hair of every kid looking for head lice, or nits as they are more popularly known. Her name probably wasn’t Nora, but her appearance struck dread into every kids heart. Every school class took it in turns to line up before Nora, who would then examine your hair by pulling it about checking for both nits and, more importantly, their eggs. This wasn’t usually too bad for boys, but for girls with long hair it was much more of a chore, as they normally had to have any plaits etc. taken out first, which meant that the younger girls were then wandering about for the rest of the day with a tangled mess of hair.
The worst thing was she wouldn’t tell you that you had nits (if indeed you had). No, that was revealed at the end of the day when an envelope was given to each child with nits to take home to their Mum. This was probably more embarassing since every kid in the class saw you collect your envelope. It didn’t matter how much you protested that nits only lived in people with clean hair (I’ve never worked out if that’s true), you were then called a fleabag for the next week or so, and no other kids wanted to play with you because their parents had told them to keep their distance, just in case.
If you did end up with one of the letters that made you a social outcast, then it was time for a trip to the chemist to buy a bottle of that foul smelling shampoo. It really had a terrible smell and it was made worse by the fact that it had to applied and then left for ten minutes before it could be washed out. After that, your Mum would go through your hair with an incredibly fine toothed comb to get out all the dead nits and most importantly the eggs. “Break their legs so they can’t lay eggs“, she used to say, which always made me feel a bit sorry for the poor little things. Any that she found would be picked out and squashed with the tip of a finger nail, which made a surprisingly large cracking sound for something so small.
Sadly, Nitty Nora has hung up in lab coat and no longer keeps the nations children head lice free. Apparently she was abolished because her job was deemed to be an invasion of privacy and possibly even assault! If this is the case, then it is surely yet another sign of the world going mad. So what if a few kids had their hair pulled a little! At least they wouldn’t cause an outbreak of nits throughout the entire school. There are also reports that nits are becoming resistant to the various lotions and potions concocted to kill them, so there’s even more reason to get rid of them as soon as possible.