IT’S TIME to add “hydrology” to the ever-growing skills section of Jeremy Clarkson’s CV.
In his latest update from Diddly Squat farm, The Sunday Times columnist takes us back to GCSE science — the water cycle, specifically, and the 0.69% of the world’s H2O that is found underground. It represents 30 times as much water that is to be found in all of the world’s inland seas, rivers, lakes, soil and atmosphere, he says.
This solves the world’s water shortage issues, says Clarkson: “We can bathe and shower until we glisten with a pinky, wholesome goodness. We can water our gardens until our plants are giddy with the refreshing zestiness of it all, and the entire population of the planet can hydrate itself until we all look like some kind of hosepipe-based accident in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.”
Obviously its not quite that simple, as the Grand Tour host found to his own detriment when he drilled 300ft into his back garden in the search for a water source. The liquid that was pumped up looked and smelled like water (in that it was odourless), and seemed to work just fine, to begin with. That’s until all of his crops turned chalky white, and all of his water-based appliances (dishwasher, washing machine and shower) seized up.
The liquid that Clarkson was hydrating both his farm and his home with was, in fact, a “lethal cocktail” of various chemicals whose presence in water is, like most things, very strictly regulated by the government. Said cocktail included high levels of manganese, too much of which can prove detrimental to memory and motor skills, sulfates, which can have a laxative effect when combined with other components in hard water, and sodium, which as we all know contributes to big blood pressure numbers.
The issue, says Clarkson, is that the water we consume now is the same water we’ve had on earth since the beginning of time. It’s the same water that the “amoebae climbed out of, after they had grown legs,” it’s the same water that the dinosaurs drank, and the same water that cooled volcanoes back when everything was “hot and messy”.
One solution could have been to invest unfathomable amounts of money in a fancy-sounding machine that removes all of the minerals so that he could put back in whatever he fancied. He didn’t fancy parting with such wads of cash however, so he decided to carry on digging holes in the hope that, eventually, the perfect drop could be located.
After finding water indelibly mixed with everything from e-coli to faecal matter, he finally found the right spot. It turns out that the spring in question actually used to nourish the entire village in which Clarkson lives, before it was switched over to the mains in the seventies, to a reaction of near pandemonium. And he can see why: “Even though I’m not a man who could tell red wine from Red Bull in a blind tasting, I can see why. It just tastes — what’s the word? Better.”
He decided, therefore, to take this now-privately-owned source of superior water, bottle it, and sell it on in his farm shop for a tidy profit (which the business could use, by the sounds of it). So he set about creating the convoluted-sounding infrastructure one needs to set up in order to legally and safely bottle water, including a bottling site in two welded-together shipping containers.
A great plan until Clarkson realised the complex system of pipes that he’s created to deliver the water to the shipping container had polluted it. Back to the drawing board.
To read Jeremy Clarkson’s column, head to The Sunday Times website or grab a copy of today’s Sunday Times Magazine.