Rejoice. Three water company chief executives will forgo their bonuses this year, having apparently noticed that their customers aren’t terribly keen on swimming with “brown dolphins”. Sorry. Just my little “poophemism”.
Carol Midgley www.thetimes.co.uk
After public fury over sewage pollution, Sarah Bentley of Thames Water and Susan Davy of South West Water will waive their performance-related payout, which last year amounted to £496,00 and £522,000 respectively, and will somehow get by on their salaries of £2 million and £1.6 million.
And, good on them actually. This sets an example that might even shame other brazen muck-spreaders (sorry, “water company bosses”) into following suit, not simply doubling dividends to £1.4 billion as children paddle in E. coli and fish suffer death by sanitary towel. In fact by the end of yesterday it was already having an effect: Nicola Shaw of Yorkshire Water said she wouldn’t be taking hers either.
But I do have a few minor questions. Such as why were water company bosses in line for “performance” bonuses in the first place when they released raw sewage into rivers and seas in England for more than 1.75 million hours last year? The only thing many people think they should have been in line for is a prison van.
What’s that, water bosses? I suppose you’ll tell me this was a 19 per cent reduction on “spills” the previous year? Well, perhaps, but may I be frank? That’s still nothing to brag about. It’s still an awful lot of shit.
Besides, the Environment Agency said this was due to drier weather and not any action the water companies took. I’m reminded of a report by researchers from Hamburg Medical School this week that declared, quite reasonably, that there’s no such thing as a “beautiful scrotum” — “we must instead speak of the least ugly”. It’s the same with sewage spills, in my view. A reduction is fractionally less ugly but still absolutely hideous to behold (apologies to scrotums everywhere. No offence).
Still, if there is any money going spare from untaken bonuses, do chuck some my way. Because after my dog’s close encounter of the turd kind in a river, I’m out of pocket. The dog ran in the water gaily and splashed about. Then she emerged sheepishly in what can only be described as a sewage suit, a craply-coloured dreamcoat.
She stank like the colon of Satan. I’ve honestly never smelt anything like it. Lumps clung to her collar and harness like hell-baubles. Even she looked disgusted and she’s eaten fox poo. By the River Mersey I sat down and retched.
Cut to: having to bin her (expensive) collar, harness and lead. Then having to have the car cleaned. I’d had no choice but to drive her home, and it still stinks now. My husband had to help me to give the dog three baths while gagging and I shall never speak of the horror of what was left clogging my plughole.
All the while I couldn’t help thinking of the “chief customer officer” at Southern Water last year telling swimmers to “use your judgment on whether you feel it’s safe to go swimming or not” after a “release” (another poophemism! Add it to your file). The sea was “95 per cent rainwater,” she added. Well, that’s certainly reassuring. I’m sure she won’t mind if I serve her a cup of tea that’s “only 5 per cent faeces”. How she’ll laugh when I say it’s “Typoo”.
Seems like an opportune moment to recognise that the time Just Stop Oil protestors take to move over and allow general traffic through is far quicker than it takes for flash flood water to disperse and allow any vehicle to pass!