Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Water, Water everywhere........

........and not a drop to drink."

According to the Book of Genesis, God said: "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures." As Britain is surrounded by oceans of the stuff and bucketfuls descend regularly on the nappers of the inhabitants, it’s surprising that the nation seems to be running out of fish. Even a predilection for fish n’ chips can hardly explain this away, much as I used to live on them when I was a student.

Perhaps it’s all part of this love-hate relationship with matters aqueous. Even with the vastly improved summers of recent years, a triumph of government policies, no doubt, visitors are still surprised to hear, as the rain drips off their sou’westers on to their sandwiches, that there is a water shortage.

They fail to understand that this announcement actually comes from a government office where, having finished the Daily Telegraph crossword (the quick version) they have become bored with watching the raindrops trickling down the window panes and decide to have a bit of fun at people’s expense. It is a relief to find such a sense of humour in high places.

The mystery of the water shortage in Britain continues to exercise the minds of some of the world’s finest thinkers. Had Charles Berlitz not got hung up on the Bermuda Triangle thing I’m sure he would have tackled it and Albert Einstein would have been a shoe-in for the job but no, it’s left to a couple of jokers in a Whitehall office to issue dire predictions on the subject. They’re probably the same ones who are responsible for the kipper shortage.

There are some desultory attempts made to catch the stuff (water not kippers) as it falls from heaven and stuff it down pipes for the benefit of the populace. Most of it leaks out of the holes, cracks and crevices of these, causing no end of grief to the water works companies. These have now decided to charge their customers for these unfortunate losses on the grounds that if they hadn’t wanted the water in the first place, there would have been no need for the pipes and hence no leaks would have appeared. This fine example of logical thinking has clearly been taken from some government White Paper.

But back to the fishy business. It is said that the shortage results from over fishing. But this must surely come from a result of over eating, yet I don’t see too many chomping on a halibut regularly. I’m very fond of fish but I don’t eat it every day and I don’t think most people do either.

Much of the stuff comes from faraway places with strange sounding names, as the old song went. And that’s a pretty scary thought. Once in Japan I stayed at a place called Chigasaki, just outside Tokyo which my hosts said was “by the seaside.” It was and I went to take a look at the sea. It was the colour and consistency of used engine-oil, something that I reflected upon as we had our mandatory dose of Sushi that night.

In Istanbul, I was rather enjoying a fish dish at a restaurant alongside the Bosphorous. Idly, I enquired of my host, “where had the fish come from?” “From there,” he said, cheerfully waving his arm at the river. The Bosphorous is an interesting river and seems to have cornered the market in a varied collection of detritus and dead bodies in about equal proportions.

And around Britain, the mackerel are always at their finest and fattest around the sewage outfalls.

Maybe if people thought a bit more about this, the fish stocks would recover, although I still can’t believe that the world population is eating its way through the entire piscine population.

Along with Britain’s failure to trap enough water for its population, this is something that needs looking into.

Something fishy here, I feel.


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