The Third Leader: Rough waters

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The Independent Online

Ah, yes, the vexed matter of water, bottle versus tap. There is upon us, it seems, the start of a turn to tap: Government departments, encouraged by lobbying from such as Sustain, the environmental food and farming group, are beginning to say no to the bottle.

This space is not necessarily the best qualified to judge on the competing claims to health of the two contenders, but the refusal of sophisticated metropolitans to embark on a journey across their city without a bottle of water to hand would surely puzzle those forebears who fought so hard to produce drinkable stuff from the tap almost as much as it would and does inhabitants of the developing world.

And that would be before they learnt that bottles can cost 500 times as much as tap and come from Fiji. Such puzzlements can point to only one thing: fashion. If the Tappists want to proceed to overwhelming victory against the most powerful force in the world today, they will have to match persuasion with persuasion and appeal to the self not the selfless.

My advice is to stress the edgy aspect of tap, its demotic, vest-wearing quality: I'm thinking a Ray Winstone kind of real-men-drink-tap thing, introducing a bit of no-nonsense and rebel, an element of daring. Don't scoff: have you tried asking for it in a restaurant?

Elsewhere, we clearly need to counter the comforting and popular allure of the portable potable: here I suggest a gentle, greenly sound weaning which is available all over the country. Simply take an empty bottle out with you and make use of the first burst main.

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