Wheels come off for car washers

PUBLISHED: 11:39 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

I RAISE a commiserative glass this week to a bunch of people who are perhaps kicking their heels after being forced out of a job they love to do in their spare time. The vessel contains water and I am talking about those souls - I have never been one of t

I RAISE a commiserative glass this week to a bunch of people who are perhaps kicking their heels after being forced out of a job they love to do in their spare time.

The vessel contains water and I am talking about those souls - I have never been one of them myself - who can think of nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than get the hosepipe out and wash their beloved cars.

They used to be seen all over the country, good weather or bad, giving the motors a shampoo and soaking.

I can barely imagine the anguish it caused when the water companies brought in hosepipe bans.

In the blink of an eye, powerjets were banished to the back of the garage and realisation dawned that the only way to keep the car clean from now on - apart from paying through the nose at a commercial car wash - was the old fashioned bucket and mop method.

How many, I wonder, dismissed that idea as much too energetic and much less fun and decided to follow my tried and trusted method of washing the car - waiting for it to rain.

So I don't have much sympathy for the shiny motor brigade. The ones I do feel sorry for are gardeners, especially those towards the wrong end of the spectrum from youth to old age who now have the daunting task of lugging out numerous brimming watering cans in an uphill struggle to keep their lovingly cared for flowers and plants in a condition other than dead.

It is a cruel and back-breaking alternative to switching on the tap for the sprinkler or hosepipe.

The powers-that-be - water company bosses and bureaucrats - say it is essential to restrict use of water because the drought is making it a scarce resource. And there are dark hints that just a tiny deterioration in the situation will mean widespread, much more draconian orders leading to the supply to homes being cut off and people having to get their water from standpipes in the street.

So to avoid that horrific scenario, it makes clear sense to suffer a hosepipe ban now.

But hold on a minute, why is it only households that are being targeted at present?

It's still true that Britain is a nation of gardeners so thousands of them must be affected in one way or another.

Why must they go through all the extra bother of trying to keep their plots looking good while council workers are unrestricted in the amount of the precious liquid they can legally spray, splosh and slosh on municipal flowerbeds.

Lots of gallons flowing off down the road into the drain because of over-watering? Never mind, there's nothing to stop the council doing it.

Water is an environmental issue, of course, as is packaging. There has been a noticeable increase lately in the calls for wide-scale reductions in the amount of packaging use by retailers.

So I was a little surprised to receive an email this week urging people to keep their clothes as fresh and crease-free as when they were packed by using tissue paper. The stuff is available in packs of 500 sheets - and once used, just throw them away.

Madness!

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