the Rambler 01/03/2002
DWHEN a few elderly neighbours dropped in to my parents' home of a winter's night no notice was taken of little boys - what some ancient scribe termed, 'A child amongst you taking notes'. But notes I took.
I recall that most of the old folk could neither read or write and when the 'Lisburn Herald' came in, I think it came on Fridays, Dad had to respond to the question, 'Is there anything fresh in the paper the day?' If there was, he would read it out to them.
With no other means of communication, no telephones, radios, TVs or anything, except letters and local gossip, if something 'was said in the paper' that was it. Who would have dared to question that?
I mention that to bring in what it says in the papers nowadays, about our need for water to sustain health.
On the farm where I grew to manhood, drinking water came from a pump in the yard. It was connected to a 15 foot deep well and at times, when the sucker (plunger) needed a new washer, it had to be primed with a couple of pints of water before it worked.
A neighbour who had a tank in his roofspace had a more sophisticated pump - a 'force pump', which had two plungers, fitted in series, which enabled the operator to raise water from the well to the roof tank. Another enterprising farmer who had a dairy herd, had a 'ram', ie, a mechanical device installed in a running stream.
This yoke pumped water from the stream to a tank. It was established circa 1925, and it was the talk of the parish.
In the hayfield we regularly drank water from a slow-running stream which marked the townland boundary. It was clear enough to reveal the 'spricks'.
But, to get back to the subject, all the published hints on health are unanimous on the need for us to drink a minimum volume of water every day.
Whether shoppers are influenced by what it says in the papers, or just driven into it by the poor quality of mains water, stockists of bottled water have a lucrative trade.
Every week new varieties appear on supermarket shelves; still and sparkling, local and Scottish, Italian and French, flavoured or plain. We really have a wide choice.
Most health advisers say that if we drank, say, a litre of water a day we would get rid of our aches and pains and a wide range of common complaints. Personally, I cannot warm to drinks of cold water. I prefer tea half a dozen times a day, before and after tea!
Recently I got a present of a handsome stainless steel flask with a pump incorporated in the domed lid. All that is needed to dispense the water is to press the dome. It works! So look out for an improved flow (of words) from me.
PS: Judging by the frequency with which 'stars' on TV and quiz participants have to reach for a drink, isn't it time we had a generation with glasses at the ends of their arms, instead of fingers? Clone that one!