In The Nanny State Made Me, Stuart Maconie talks about how frankly stupid it is that something as basic as water is no longer a public service. And how spot on he is. It’s not as if the companies have any competition in the sector and also having a clean and safe water supply is a basic need to everyone.
Way, way back in the early days of Ladybird Tuesday I dipped into series 606E, The Public Services, looking at Electricity. I even commented at the times about how the whole concept of Electricity, Gas and Water being public services was vintage in itself. Years on, it’s time to revisit the series again, but this time we’ve moved on to the Water Supply.
I still smile to see this book labelled as being “A Ladybird ‘Easy-Reading’ Book”, but then when I consider some of the slightly obscure titles that my eldest two have brought home as school reading books maybe it isn’t as strange as I used to think. Kids do seem to have an interest in some of what us adults might class as mundane, or even geeky, and I think it fair to say that books on the Public Services fall into that category. Luckily I think I, and several of my friends fall into that geeky category.
Water Supply starts off with what has to be one of the most obvious things here in the UK – the fact that it rains rather a lot and hence we have a lot of water. It then goes on to explain about what a well is. Again, it seems like the obvious, but just a few months ago I honestly met someone who claimed never to have seen a well before and didn’t really believe that they exist. What the…?
The rather sweeping statement that “some large cities have made use of all the water that is nearby” is where this particular Ladybird books heads towards being being sexist in the way that so many of their books did. It goes on to tell us that the men at the water department must find more water. Heaven forbid that they might have a woman on their team!
Dams and reservoirs are explained, along with some helpful statements like “if a valley with houses in it has to be flooded, the people living in them must move”. You don’t say? Or maybe I’m just being a tad cynical in my old age…
In fairness though the book goes on to explain how the water is then taken from the reservoirs, treated to make it safe into drinking water, and taken to people’s houses. The book then looks at all things domestic, and covers much of the same ground as the later title Waterin the Ladybird Leaders series. They don’t leave that sexism behind though as there’s still lots of talk about the “men from the water board” having various jobs to do. Let’s just hope the modern day equivalent book would be a bit more balanced from an equality point of view.
About Ladybird Tuesday
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads, where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and this post originally appeared on there. I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.