Thursday, 13 August 2015

Exposure - it gets absolutely everywhere.

In 1966 – my parents took my brother and me on our first flight ever.  We left Liverpool’s Speke airport on a BAC111 for Jersey for a week of sunshine and fun. It was on that beautiful, almost continental island that I experienced my first exposure to two other things: Sunburn and The Tummy Bug! 

I remember the year so well because my skin burned while we were all by the swimming pool watching Everton beat Sheffield Wednesday 3 – 2 in the FA Cup. Dad sent the 'boys in blue' a telegram before kick-off and my parents would probably have noticed my skin turning lobster if they were not celebrating into the early evening.  

The source of The Tummy Bug was less obvious. Dad had hired an open-top Triumph Herald and we trundled round the island from our St Helier base at the 30mph maximum speed limit. We took in the wonderful scenery; rocky coves, sandy beaches and the remnants of Nazi occupation during  WW2. I also learned a little French but the most lasting memory is of being confined to bed with a bottle of Vichy water to help me through the dehydrating symptoms. It tasted like fish.  

Since last Thursday, The Fylde Coast and other parts of Lancashire have been affected by a water-borne parasite (No, I don’t mean The Prime Minister, who has been on his holidays) Cryrtosporidium, also known as The Tummy Bug.  What began as a shocking revelation, (we never have problems with our water supply, except the obligatory hosepipe ban every time the sun shines for more than two consecutive days) soon deteriorated into ca complete shambles.  Panic buying began in earnest as supermarkets struggled to restock rapidly dwindling supplies of bottled water.  Never before has so much, needed by so many been provided by so few.   

Of course, our British supply of clean, drinkable water has never been free but as I write, the infestation has lasted a week and despite their stalwart efforts, United Utilities have only managed to reduce the level of risk and not eradicate it.  So we face the double whammy of boiling kettles and running up increased power bills or buying it in bottles. I am reminded that the CEO of Nestle is quoted as saying that human beings do not have a right to free water and whether or not he was taken out of context, it has certainly been the case here this week. Usually, for a mere £36 a month, my family can have a luxury that is not available in many other parts of the world: Clean drinkable water.  

This week reminded me of one of my favourite poems, The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner. “Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.” Here we are, living by the sea in one of the wettest parts of our lovely island, having to drink bottled water! Of course I avoided the Nestle Pure variety because of its dubious origins:  India and Pakistan have little enough water without it being diverted and sent over to the US and Europe, depriving poor people of their only free natural resource.  I also avoid drinking Evian which is naive spelled backwards. Not that I think someone is taking the mickey, (it is possible that the connotation is purity but nevertheless, I think the Swiss have enough money.) I have boiled many kettles, filled jugs and placed them in strategic positions around my domain.  It is almost like being on holiday abroad. The weather has certainly perked up.  

In Egypt in 2002, I was exposed to a rather vile variety of The Tummy Bug that my family now call The Mummy’s Revenge.  I was sent to the local doctor because it laughed in the face of Imodium. It was 45˚C in the shade (a June heatwave even for the natives) and we were cruising the Nile. Expose to strange bugs, insects, heat and dirty water is no deterrent to The happy Wanderer. I thrive on adventure. But this is England, for goodness sake chaps and it just isn’t cricket? Besides, the sun is up now and this intrepid explorer wants some ice in her Gin and Tonic.

 Water, water  - please! 

There’s “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!”
We’re boiling kettles by the hour to pour them down the sink.
There’s a bottle in the fridge door and another for my teeth.
There’s Volvic on the top shelf, Buxton Water underneath. 

Although it rained all Summer long, the land on overflow,
supply up here in Lancashire is running very low,
we're parched as peas,
we’re on our knees for precious H2O. 

Come on you water boys! Come on United Utilities!
I can’t drink tea from dawn ‘till dusk, I need to chill my G and T’s.
This cryptosporidium may be a nasty little bug
but if I catch the blighter in my sink, I’ll squish him with the plug!

Have a good week.   Adele