The thing is that drought warnings are something which always alarm me. I don’t remember the standpipe summer of 1976, but I am traumatised by it, nonetheless. The idea of queuing in the street for water seems to me only one small step from the end of days, and if the end of days is coming, I would at least like to have done my laundry for it.
But I can’t reconcile my fear of drought with my fondness for not getting rained on. I like it not raining. My ideal world would be like Camelot, in which Arthur boasts (in the musical, not in Malory), the rain may never fall till after sundown.
To make up for my dislike of rain, and glee when it is dry, I try to save water by showering instead of bathing, and I have no dripping taps (though that is because dripping is the most annoying noise on earth).
This may, however, be a sign not of my eco-friendliness, as I believed, but of my essential cheapness. Because the announcement of a hosepipe ban, beginning on Apr 5, has revealed that the consequences of drought are massively wealth-dependent.
You won’t be able use a hose or sprinkler to water your garden. But luckily, I don’t have a garden, because my flat is next to a railway, and they are surprisingly resistant to my suggestion that we replace the commuter line with a lawn.
You won’t be able to clean a patio or driveway, but you need to own a house or garden flat to have either, and those don’t come cheap. You also won’t be able to wash a car or a boat, but I gave up driving when petrol became more expensive than shoe-leather, and I don’t have a boat because I don’t live in Howard’s Way.
Other banned practices include the filling of fountains and swimming pools, but I think I might just slip through those unscathed too. In fact, the only thing I won’t be able to do is clean my windows, and since I hate cleaning, I can only embrace this development.
The uber-posh, however, will be exempt from the drought and its effects. The Environment Agency has promised that ‘The Queen's Diamond Jubilee pageant at the beginning of June will not be affected by the drought.’ I’m no expert on a pageant, having never been to one, but surely if it happens outside, that is impossible.
Can they really guarantee that there will be no brown grass or wilting flowers in the queen’s eye-line at the start of June? Does she have her own personal rain-clouds? Or will she just hose away, regardless? The fine is only £1000, after all, and she probably has that going spare.