COLM O'REGAN: Irish mammy will be a ’lunatic’ over the water charges

UNINTENDED consequences: the focus on water charges over the last while has, rightly, been on things like handing over our PPSNs. We don’t know where that data is going to end up. Will it be left in a laptop in a taxi, after an EPIC Friday night, and then the emails you normally get from the ‘Widow of Brigadier Celestine Agabi, formerly of the Ivory Coast’, will start getting a heck of a lot more specific?

And, of course, there are the tens of millions of euro spent on consultants. But if it makes you feel any better, some of the ‘consulting’ money was legitimately spent on IT systems. ‘Consultants’ are often coders and web designers, but they’re called consultants as it sounds better around the parish. I should know. I was a consultant once and I wrote computer code.

However, there are other consequences. Water charges are going to seep into the public psyche, and genuinely change the way we think about using water.

Imagine you have a visitor and they ask to use the toilet. Just as they are going out the door, you realise, to your horror, that you have been stringently enforcing a ‘mellow yellow’ policy all day. What are they going to think when they are faced with the results of your morning’s micturition? Do you run out the door ahead of them, or just shout a cheery “flush and don’t look”.

On the other hand, picture a new boyfriend being introduced to the family. He thinks he has passed the first couple of tests. “Eimear tells me you’re a consultant,” says Mammy, impressed.

There is a bit of sportsy joshing with the father. They both agree the under-age game is “gone to pot altogether”. Once he’s left for the toilet, his new girlfriend realises, with horror, she has forgotten to explain that Mammy is “like a lunatic about the water”. He arrives back in great spirits, only to be greeted with stony silence: the whole family is listening to pipe-gurgles and water-gasps as the cistern merrily refills and CASH drains out of the tank in the attic. “Money must be no object in his house”, mutters Mammy to Himself, later that night.

It will become perfectly acceptable to explain, in advance or afterwards, that “this one’s going to need a flush”. In fact, you may not be offered tea with alacrity, if the host thinks they’re going to be paying double for the water.

And definitely nothing with fibre; perhaps a boiled egg will keep a visitor out of the ‘spending room’ for the duration of their visit.

Showering will need to be organised with military precision. And if more than one person needs to use it, the electric shower, it can be practical to leave it running in between. That will all end.

Either the second person has to wait outside or they’ll have to restart the shower. And we all know if an electric shower is restarted shortly afterwards, within one minute the water circuit will appear to have travelled to Svalbard, in the Arctic Ocean, in the next will have descended into the core of the Earth, in and out of the Hoop of Satan, leaving the human underneath it covered in chilblains. You choose.

Restaurants will change as well. “Still or sparkling” will have a third option, as they now may charge when you ask for tap.

To make you feel better, ‘tap’ will change to faucet — pronounced ‘Faussay’.

This is a brave new world we are entering. Or, at least, a drier one.


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