OPINION - Thames Water to announce hosepipe ban for London

·3-min read
 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

What is it with the English and their hosepipes? We’re not Americans, in that we’re hardly averse to state intervention in our lives (I mean, look at the tax burden).

Is it because an Englishman’s home is his castle? To quote an unnamed taxi driver from Kate Fox’s brilliant book, Watching the English, “He can’t actually have the moat and drawbridge, but he can make it bloody difficult to get to.”

Is a well-manicured, pleasingly green lawn still an important status symbol? In other words, what might a bleach blond, uncared-for patch of grass say about the state of your kitchen or heaven forbid, your bedroom?

Is it that a typical ‘English’ garden is the last vestige of privacy in a world where your school, employer and various foreign-owned social media giants know about your every last desire?

Or does it get even weirder than that? The frankly phallic nature of the hosepipe feels vaguely Freudian. Who do we speak to about this?

Perhaps it’s me. If I had access to more than a tiny patio, I’d probably be like the rest of you, constantly on the lookout for the white smoke indicating a hosepipe ban. Clandestinely watering my lawn in the dead of night, dobbing in those neighbours to the left who do the same. You know, the ones we don’t much like for good reasons we can’t quite recall.

Anyway, bad news. It hasn’t rained for roughly six months so Thames Water is set to introduce a hosepipe ban for the capital. They’re not saying when yet.

You may recall that last month, the Environment Agency took the somewhat unusual step of suggesting the bosses of water companies should face jail for the worst pollution incidents as it detailed the sector’s “shocking” performance in 2021.

Measured against the agency’s four-star rating system for environmental performance, Thames Water received only two, meaning it requires significant improvement. So I’m not sure how much difference a hosepipe ban will make, given that water mains keep bursting every few days at present.

But as Donald Rumsfeld might have said, you water your garden with the privatised monopoly you have, not the one you might wish to have.

Elsewhere in the paper, you can run from Londoner’s Diary, but you can’t hide. Have you heard the one about the group of MPs – including Conservative chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris – on a cricket tour of Jamaica?

In the comment pages, Nimco Ali is no fan of festivals, but spent the weekend at Wilderness in Oxfordshire, which she declares glamping at its finest.

And finally, Serena Williams, holder of 23 grand slam singles titles, has announced she is to retire from tennis after the US Open. I wrote about her in the Standard a few weeks ago, and why at 41 years of age she is proof that going out on top is overrated.

You couldn’t possibly sum up Serena’s greatness in one graphic. But this one the New York Times created a few years comes pretty close. What a player.

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