Knysna is suffering a crisis or two. Top of the pops is the state of our economy. Businesses are closing as fast as you can say Julius Malema. Much of the malaise is externally driven. So when conflagration in Libya and now American jaw-jaw in respect of Iran pushes up oil prices (it seems exponentially) not only do we have to pay more, nay, a lot more for diesel and petrol to put into our cars. But also the cost of food, clothing, paint – in fact any consumable you can think of – goes up too. And often by an amount which seems entirely arbitrary and disproportionate.
So while the packet of muesli that we habitually buy at our ‘favourite’ super-market was R36 last month, it is miraculously five rand dearer today. Boy! That’s inflation with a head of steam behind it. And you could all, couldn’t you, provide me with a hundred other similar examples. Yet our government continues with the lie that the official inflation rate sits at 5%. Don’t even get me started on ESKOM, the organisation we all love to hate, whose contribution to the economy has put us, realistically, closer to hyper inflation territory.
As always, I digress. Because the particular crisis that I’m concentrating on today is water. Yes, I can see it has been raining. Aren’t we lucky. As we enter winter, we will soon quickly forget the words ‘water shortage.’ So in order to keep this fresh in our minds, I’m deep in negotiations with Knysna Municipality big-wigs to devise something ‘in the national interest.’ I’m sorry ladies, but local legislation is soon to be enacted which will oblige you to surrender that most precious of sanctuaries – the bath.
I have recently concluded an 18 month study (financed of course by the Ministry of Water and Forests). My terms of reference were to determine where the most pressing demands on our scarce water resources lay, and to summarise how best to reduce the most extravagant usages. My analysis (for which I was paid handsomely, thank you) concludes that the current water shortage has nothing whatever to do with garden hoses or irrigation. It certainly has sod all to do with a dripping stand pipe or two in the townships (I can already hear the howls of protest from Thesen, Leisure and Belvidere). Knysna’s industrial consumption is but a drop in the ocean. No, we are short of H2O for one reason only: Female addiction to baths. The fairer sex (are we still allowed to call them that without the anti-sexist brigade climbing on our backs?) typically spends half her life immersed in a solution of heated liquid to which various unknown-to-male substances have been applied. To simplify matters I shall call this a generic bubble bath. When their skin has begun to melt, the bath plug is pulled and about a million gallons of frothy water finds its way into the lagoon each day. You think I’m joking don’t you.
I wonder how much water could be saved by the simple imperative of the Knysna’s Sea Cadets being recruited to remove bath tubs from all houses, then to be stored (and guarded) at a convenient collection point – let’s say the area of waste ground next door to the Angling Club. Destined to be turned into much needed submarines and fighter aircraft for President Zuma’s beleaguered armed forces? A lot methinks. And not just here in Knysna. I recall last year during a trip to the Kalahari that each campsite had notices up everywhere with a memorable appeal: “Water is shot. Place use sparefully.” Indeed. Yet each of the ladies washrooms had five baths (none in the gents’) to which those of a certain generation, oblivious to the appeal, retreated each and every evening. They were on holiday after all.
Come on girls. Get a grip. A shower will do the trick.