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December 16, 2006

A boring rant about water…

Before embarking on this post, I want to emphasise that I do realise I have unusually strong feelings about the subject of water provision!

Last week, I bought a sandwich for nearly a fiver from Subway in Oxford Street and casually asked for a cup of tap water to go with it. But I was shocked to be told that I couldn’t have it free. Until I went home and looked it up, I was under the impression that anywhere food was sold, water had to be offered for free alongside it. I was wrong. ( That didn’t stop me demanding to speak to the manager who seemed to be under the same impression, but informed me that they charged for the cups!

Now, this may sound like the sad ranting of someone with way too much time and that may very well be the case. Nevertheless, the fact that most people don’t drink enough is well documented and I hardly need to explain the importance of water to proper human functioning. I will mention that according to “The thirst mechanism is so weak in most people that they mistake thirst for hunger…One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs in almost 100% of dieters in a Washington study” because I’ve just tried it and it seems to have worked!

Yet despite all of this, on and off campus, it is not as easy as I believe it should be to access water without charge. Yes they’ve started putting jugs of water out in the Union, but every time I pour myself a cup, the girl who is always behind the bar in Cholo scowls at me as if I’m some cheap bastard who is just saving his money by having some water, rather than buying a Coke or a beer. In Café Library, I have to (and I do this) take a cup out to the water fountain out by the male toilets under the library stairs and fill up there to wash down my chilli and rice. It’s worse out in the wider world. It costs roughly £1 per 10,000 litres in the UK. I resent having to pay for something as vital to my existence as air.

This requires a change of mindset as well as policy. You need to stop laughing at the fact I take this so seriously and bar-staff should stop looking so hassled when I ask them for a tap water. It’s not as if they’re paid per drink they sell. Policy-wise, why can’t we bring back public water fountains in the streets? I’d happily stick my head under a well-maintained public tap, but for those of you that wouldn’t, you could always pop into the nearest Subway and buy a cup.

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