There have always existed in the world the kind of malignant gnomes who like nothing better that reporting their neighbours to the police, town hall, inland revenue, or the pokenose army from Whitehall but not since the religious conflicts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have we been given such a great incentive to become a nation of spies as the Government is now offering by asking us to grass up our neighbours for watering their grass.
Not so long ago the twitching lace curtains of suburbia indicated that the milkman or window cleaner might be lingering longer than necessary at a certain house but such misdemeanours carried only the prospect of being the star of local gossip which was a lot different to being accused of Catholic jiggery popery in the era of the Stuart monarchs. The penalty for that was torture and execution.
Now the stakes have been raised once more, the hose may have changed from obligatory male legwear to lengths of green rubber tubing but the crime of using the garden sprinkler is just as heinous.
And the reward for the informant is just as great, that wonderful feeling of self righteousness some people get when they can feel sure they have served queen and country.
Why are you looking so pleased with yourself, you might well ask a cheshire-cattish acquaintance. And they will just not and cheshire-cattishly grin. And you will know they have grassed up their neighbours for having greener grass on the other side of the fence.
This is a shrewd divide and rule ploy of course. If we cannot trust our neighbours, traditional bonds of community break down leaving us all at the mercy of central government who are even now negotiating to put mercy out to tender as a PFI initiative.
We should not have a water shortage in Britain, there is no shortage of actual water in fact my back garden is soaked with the stuff. What there is a shortage of is the willingness to invest in renovating the water delivery system. Even in the dry South – East there would not be a crisis if most of the processed water did not leak into the subsoil through holes in pipes that have remained unmended for years. But of course since the water industry was handed over to Private Finance the directors have been far too busy trousering the money in the maintenance budget to actually think about getting the work done.
In this only for profit age the answer as always is to blame the irresponsible consumer.
Were we all to give up watering the garden, flushing the lav and basic personal hygiene the taps might flow for a few days longer but the water companies revenue streams would dry up, giving them a perfect excuse to jack up