Saturday, 19 May 2012

My Wife's Bitter

Right.  This is another one of those 'real life' posts.  

You may or may not recall the neighbour I mentioned, the one who gathered our post and even cut the grass while we were away.  Just before we left we got an invitation to Dave's 60th birthday party.  It was at a lovely venue in Newcastle's city centre, with food, live music and all.  We went and had a great time catching up with a lot of the neighbours.

The invitation said that if we were feeling generous we could buy him beer, particularly beers we didn't think he would have tried before.  Otherwise, we could consider making a contribution to his favourite charity.  We did both.

My usual gift wrap - an old road map + several lengths of yarn & cloth ribbbon
from my Aunt Rita's stash. No idea what Dave thought, but this sort of thing
makes me happy...

As we were going to Australia, it seemed the obvious thing to bring back some Australian beer and this is what Bill did, wrapping several bottles in bubble wrap and ziplock bags and packing them in the centre of his suitcase.   We also found a perfect birthday card in an Australia mall:  the man on the front had golf balls for eyes (Dave's an avid golfer) and said 'Few women admit their age, few men act theirs.'   I think after reading this you'll agree it was appropriate.

One of the beers Bill and Chris selected was called  My Wife's Bitter.  The label said:  "Some marriages drive people to drink. Some drinks drive people to marriage."  It helps to know that 'bitter' is a term for 'pale ale', so the manufacturer may or may not be referring to his wife's attitude.  I must admit that I didn't write down the names of the other beers they bought; I didn't think they could top this one.

Now comes the serious part.  I visited the website listed for contributing to his favourite charity.  Dave works for our local water provider and so it seems natural that WaterAid would be of interest to him.  He's always climbing, hiking, trekking somewhere - or riding a toilet bike - to help raise money for them. 

The famous toilet bike.

When I logged onto his web page for accepting donations - he's chairing some group feat that involves climbing another mountain, apparently - I looked around the website to learn more about WaterAid. 
What I found interesting was the point that the lack of safe water is a women's issue, because guess who gets to tote water for the family if it's not immediately to hand.   Lack of safe water and sanitation is a major cause of infant and child mortality due to diarrheal disease.   It's been a while since I made any charitable contributions, so I had no trouble opening my pocketbook and donating to Dave's fundraising project for WaterAid.

Whether or not you are interested in contributing, I invite you to take a moment to appreciate your effortless supply of safe water with choice of temperature, force of flow, even fineness and firmness of shower spray.    

I think this was another fund-raising effort...or he just likes to get
his kit off...

Though a lot of people my age in Britain remember having outhouses instead of indoor toilets, think about the luxury of the sanitary convenience, the privacy and the ease of good hygiene we are privileged to enjoy.  Anyone who has travelled to a developing country and coped with or even just seen the insect-infested holes in the ground called toilets surely has a greater affection for their ceramic and metal fixture at home.  

Though much credit is given to advancing medical services in the lengthening of life in the developed world, most folks in public health recognise that progress towards good health began with safe water and sanitation.  I can't really imagine living without either.  Can you?


Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

This is just a wonderful post. Admittedly, I didn't know where we were going when we set out at the post title, but you very cleverly crafted your paragraphs to pull us along to the plight you were highlighting. Great writing! As far as the subject matter, problems of lack of clean water, sanitation, or sufficient nutritious food supply seems so far removed from the "problems" we face every day! This was a great reminder to live outside our own consumptive consumerism now and again.

Now, the neighbor who rides the toilet bike...dang, I wish I lived next door to him! Great sense of humor!

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

Great post Shelley. We take too many things for granted in this world, that's for sure.

And I love the sense of humour you all have, esp the toilet bike! hehe

Anonymous said...

I love the name of that beer! Must try to find it at our local beer pubs - a couple of which are really into importing interesting stuff.

Great of you to get the word out about clean water and sanitation in general. Oh so easy for those of us in 'civilized' countries to pay no mind to these issues as we have the luxury of taking such healthful conveniences for granted.

Anonymous said...

I can tell that Dave must be a character...but one for a good cause. I have previously read about the impact that lack of potable water can have on women's lives and the health of all.

Suburban Princess said...

Hallo dahling! Sorry I've been away...catching up with bloggy friends now :O)

I love the name of the beer! My favourite wine name is 'Cat Pee on a Gooseberry Bush' :O) It's actually really nice wine!

Friends of mine go to Laos for months and provide water filters etc. They have people sponsor a filter and put their name on it so the people who get it know who provided it for them.

Shelley said...

Deb - Why thank you so much. Such nice compliments. I must admit to having fun playing with my post titles, even though as you say they don't give much of a clue as to what the post is about. I'll blame it on Bill, as he does much of that side-way sort of communication. Yes, Dave is a great neighbour, one of several we have around here.

LR - Yes, the toilet bike was rather astonishing to see.

Journal - Bill loves trying new beers, but beer - like wine - doesn't always travel well. Guinness, for example, is different in Dublin to anywhere else...somehow richer. New beers are fun anyhow.

Terri - It's so fun to have such a character in the neighbourhood.

Princess - I admire your courage to try such a strangely named wine! I used to hear the phrase 'tastes like panther piss' which always made me want to ask 'how do you know?'. Water filters would be very useful I think.

SewingLibrarian said...

Have you read The Ghost Map? Fascinating book about the doctor who discovered the cause of cholera epidemics during one of London's outbreaks in the 1850's. Bad stuff in the water, not "bad air" or miasma, as previously thought.

Shelley said...

SL - No, I have not read it! I must look it up. I have, however, been to the John Snow pub in London, signed the guest book and found many of my colleagues' names there. The amazing thing about John Snow is that he didn't know anything about the organism that caused cholera, he just figured out it came from a contaminated water well.