A dear friend came to stay and we visited Belton House (National Trust, Lincolnshire).
Following the obligatory cream tea, and a stroll round the beautiful gardens, we visited the house itself.
We both like reading captions anywhere we see them.
One of the portraits, of a lovely young woman circa 18th century, informed us that she died, at 23, of a "putrid fever caused by body lice".
We were absolutely horrified. This was the wife of an earl, living in stately splendour, with many servants (41 in the house's heyday, to run the house and garden).
"Ah," we exclaimed in unison, "This is why we are so obsessed with cleaning!"
Both of us have visited adult daughters and been horrified by the disgusting state of their apartments.
Last time she visited her daughter, they went out for breakfast, because my friend couldn't face eating in the shared kitchen of the flat.
"So," we agreed, "This is folk history and inherited instinct passed down to us by our mothers, to keep things clean for the benefit of health."
We were kind of sad that, with antibiotics and other remedies available, the youth of today does not feel the same anxiety.