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Silver Surfer Articles
45. “Water, water, everywhere....”

There are times when activity on Rochford Life can only be described as hectic, and then comes a lull and I confess that lulls make me look around and think, “What should I be writing?” Now is one such lull and looking outside at the rain – again – it seems only natural that perhaps we ought to acknowledge the rain of this winter with an article dedicated to water.

We often try to include articles that help us become more aware or freshly aware of the wonder of the world around us and you might be forgiven for not getting excited about water when there has been so much of it in the last two months (I write in February 2014). But apart from the air, there is probably nothing more important and probably nothing that we take so much for granted as water. Let’s see what we can do.

According to Wikipedia water covers 71% of the surface of the Earth. We watch it and enjoy it on Southend seafront where it comes and goes over the mud with great regularity. We can look at tables and know exactly where it will be when on the estuary. Over the years I have enjoyed being on water in a canoe, a sailing dingy, ferries and cruise ships. I have swum on it, in it and under it and beheld a few of the wonders beneath the sea. I have watched films about it and seen great fish leaping out of it. I have seen pictures of great battles at sea, varieties of boats and ships of every shape and kind, including those submersibles that go miles down to the deepest depths. There is a lot of water out there on the oceans and as long as it stays there at arms’ length we’re OK. I’ve seen films of tsunamis and of ships in storms and I realise the sea sometimes isn’t a safe place to be – or near it! Such wonders but such potential terror and power and destruction.


Without water we would not have gone through an era of steam trains and a number of our power stations wouldn’t work, hence no electricity.  Without water my car wouldn’t work, nor any buses. Without water there would be no life.  I’m told my body is largely made of it and if I lack it I may only last a few days, if that. We turn on a tap and there it is. We wash in it and with it, and prepare food and drink with it.


But then we turn on our TV and week after week we have seen acres and acres and acres of it obliterating the countryside. First it was coming over sea walls, then filling the Somerset Levels and now in the past week or so flooding out in the Thames Valley.  Suddenly from hundreds of houses being under water, it is now thousands. Suddenly we are having to call out the army to help and when even Rochford District Council starts handing out free sandbags you really start wondering.


Water is sneaky. We see pictures of massive waterfalls around the world and we wonder at the power generated by it. But then one night with little or no warning – apart from the constant rainfall, suddenly water appears at the front door or bubbling up through the floorboards and all manner of chaos ensues. Electricity goes down, sewers bubble up, and an insipid cold fills the place. Misery ensues but the solid British fighting spirit appears before the cameras and for a moment it doesn’t seem quite so bad – but it is.


Water in small quantities is manageable, useful and good. Water in large amounts in the wrong place, we are finding, is hateful. It has the power to change our attitudes and our ways of living; we’re a bit slow at that but watch and see how the country will change in the next five years, say, as we struggle to overcome the encroaching waters. Already millions have been spent on preparing some river banks and no doubt millions more will have to be spent. Insurance companies will force changes or go out of business, for they cannot pay out indefinitely.


Climate change – if that is what it is – is like a slow boiling kettle, for that is what it is – slow. But it seems it is gradual and definite. Whether it is just a cycle or a long term trend only time will tell, but have you noticed the difference in water forecasts? Years ago if they spoke of half an inch of rain that was seriously bad. Now we are being warned to expect nearly two inches of rainfall in eight hours. Whether that will be in the West or across the whole country, only later on will tell. Already in the last year, although most of the time here in the middle of Rochford we have not suffered beyond a briefly shallowly flooded road, there have been the times when it wasn’t so brief and wasn’t so shallow. We may be grateful that most of us have experienced nothing like that been shown on TV as happening elsewhere in the country.


So before I go and fill the kettle to make another cuppa, let’s lift our spirits a little with a little light heartedness:


768 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world's population.

Ooops, sorry that wasn’t so light hearted.


Is it dangerous to swim on a full stomach?
Yes. It's better to swim in water.

OK, sublime to the ridiculous


If you don’t water your herb garden you’re going to have a bad thyme.

Oh my goodness!


Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.

Mark Twain (as I said!)


You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.

Edwin Louis Cole


I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.

W. C. Fields


If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: 'President Can't Swim.'

Lyndon B. Johnson


I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.

W. C. Fields


People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that's the time to do something about it, not when it's around your neck.

Chinua Achebe


Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

Jacques Yves Cousteau


We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.

Jacques Yves Cousteau


The most efficient water power in the world - women's tears.

Wilson Mizner

It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.

Franklin P. Jones


All the water that will ever be is, right now

National Geographic (But not a ll in one place please!)



That’s enough for now. Stay dry if you can and if you read this in the middle of a hot, dry summer, it wasn’t a dream; this is what it really was like!



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