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The Phattest Water Butt of All

It should surprise no one (but delight everyone) that some clever person has produced a water butt in the shape of a butt. (Note for the non-Brits: Water Butt = Rain Barrel).

What really makes the smartly-named “Butt Butt” a standout, though, is the wicked tramp-stamp tattoo decoration! Well done, chap! Just a bit unfortunate on the spigot placement, though. Tell me, how much would it cost to haul Butt to the US?

The Value of Water, Explained by Two Grannies

Those witty folks at Yorkshire Water UK are at it again, with time with a kooky campaign centered on two thrifty Grannies. “Edna and Mary” urge us to “Look ‘ow much you get for your money!” and are backed by a spot on the telly, their own corner of “t’interweb,” and of course, Twitter and Facebook.

It’s a wide stream of slapstick silliness surrounding know-it-all Edna and disheveled Mary. But grounding it all is the fact that Grannies everywhere will definitely be paying a lot more for water in the future. It’s no joke that many people don’t comprehend the huge (and escalating) costs and complex infrastructure required to deliver the cheap, clean tap water we take for granted. From the video’s YouTube page,

Research has highlighted to us that nearly 40% of our customers don’t know what they get for their money when it comes to their water bill. It’s important to us that our customers understand what they get for their money so we’ve launched this latest campaign to explain where your money goes.

The website is loaded with campy jokes and stereotypical dialogue which sometimes goes a bit too far; despite this, the two frugal frumps are a gateway to a lot of valuble, concise information, like “How do we spend your money?” or “how we collect and treat your water.”

YouTube commenters have quickly piled on with the expected criticisms, mostly on the theme of you’re wasting the public’s money on this stupid campaign and advertising.

A mentor of mine once told me, “If you’re not being criticized, you’re not making progress.” He was right.

Embedded video below or view on YouTube here.

Eschew the Fat: How Gross is This?

How did I miss this Halloween treat?

Scottish Water advises folks to “Be afraid, be very afraid” as they take us deep into the sewer to observe with our own eyes what it looks like when fats are dumped down the drain. Go ahead and “see what’s lurking in a Highland sewer.”

Please note, may not be suitable for squeamish viewers! (This is exactly the sort of thing that motivated the Thames Singing Sewermen to break into song!)

Sensational Singing Sewermen from Thames Water

The Singing Sewermen from Thames Water would like Brits to give the sewers a rest this Christmas, so the unconventional troupe has restyled the classic carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” into “This Christmas Think of Sewermen.”

The song, part of Thames Water’s “Bin It Don’t Block It” campaign, was recorded deep in the Victorian sewers of East London on a hand-held camera. They’re singing with real feeling, and no wonder: an estimated 500 tonnes of fat (or 1.1 million pounds) – goes down customers’ drains each December, causing nasty blockages and backups…and some unpleasant work for the sewermen, no doubt.

Here’s the lyrics in case you’d like to sing along!

This Christmas think of sewermen who tremble in dismay
When grease from goose and fatted fowl is idly poured away
It clogs the drains of London and it must be scraped away.

Put your fat in the rubbish in a bin, throw it all in
Put your fat in the rubbish in a bin

So when you’ve had your Christmas meal of turkey, wine and pud
Remember our poor sewermen and treat them as you should.
Don’t pour your hot fat down the drain ’cause it will do no good.

Put your fat in the rubbish in a bin, throw it all in
Put your fat in the rubbish in a bin

Slummin’ It at Hyde Park

Is this a photo from a poverty-stricken location in the developing world? No, it’s from the men’s restroom in London’s Hyde Park on the occasion of World Toilet Day, November 19, 2009. (Why just the men’s room, I wonder?)

The charity WaterAid made it “real” for London loo-goers who surely expected flushing toilets, soap, clean water and a reasonably tidy facility. Instead, visitors came face to face with the deplorable conditions that are endured by nearly half the world’s population.

Watch the report on “Loo-ve Been Framed” by Cynthia Chandran for Asianlite on YouTube:

Here’s another take on the event by Lincolnshire Young Journalist Academy’s Jake, from Sleaford’s Carres school newsroom (I think the kid has a bright future in journalism!)

Another Reason I’m an Anglophile

Just when we think our crush on the country, culture and people of England was getting out of hand, along comes a note from Ferrers (aka The Pie Man) to further stoke our Anglophile tendencies. He pointed us to the delightful BWTAS –  the British Water Tower Appreciation Society. The group “exists to connect enthusiasts of water towers to share their enjoyment of their artistic, cultural, architectural, historical, social and engineering significance.”

We’re in favor of that! But the best part of their “about us” statement is this “It is a society that tries not to burden itself with administration duties, committees and all that stuff (although it has them). It is whatever the members can make of it themselves.”

What will become of Jumbo, the largest remaining Victorian water tower in Britain?

What will become of Jumbo, the largest remaining Victorian water tower in Britain?

Visit their website or follow them on Twitter, but be sure to set aside some time as it is packed with tons entertaining information, not only from the UK but from all other world. (In fact, I saw plenty of US-based water-tower stuff that I’d never come across myself elsewhere!)

The Society has organized exhibitions of water tower arts and crafts, given talks, organized tours, written guidebooks on water towers, and appeared on radio and TV. Its diverse membership includes architects, artists, historians, civil engineers, utility company employees, tower owners “as well as ‘just plain folk.”

If you’re UK-based, lucky you! All the rest of us should bookmark the BWTAS site in our big-fat, “someday” UK travel folder.

The Golden Poo Awards. Really.

Toilet humor (humour) has moved out of the school yard and into the studios of some of the UK’s most creative animators. I thought I was good at the potty puns and chuckles, but the threshold has been raised to astounding heights with the winners of the short film “Golden Poo Awards” announced October 15th. In fact, it’s so over the top, I spent a few minutes pondering if it could be some sort of prank!

PooP Creative (really!) and The London International Animation Festival (LIAF) jointly promoted the competition to tackle the serious issues of sanitation and hygiene in an edgy, irreverent and humorous way.

And “the issues” aren’t limited to the poorer, less developed regions of the world. According to the site,

How Dirty Are YOU? More than 1 in four people have faecal matter on their hands! Britain’s 12M cases of norovirus, gastroenteritis, MRSA, E-Coli and now Swine Flu infections are mainly down to dirty hands. (Dirty Hands Study via London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

I think they succeeded splendidly…the films are creative, funny, engaging, expressive and memorable. Following the top 2 entries, see more here at the Golden Poo Awards site.

First Place: Dancing In The Loo by Delphine Mandin

Second Place: A Film About Poo by Emily Howells & Anne Wilkins

Are you a Numptee?

Numptee is the charmingly clueless character starring in Yorkshire (UK) Water’s new public education campaign, “Bin it, don’t flush it.”

You can’t help but smile at his silly antics though they spotlight a serious problem: sewer blockages and flooding, half of which are caused by Numptee and his buds putting inappropriate items down the drain. From campaign headquarters at yorkshirewater.com,

Numptee, did you just put that cooking fat down the sink?

Numptee, did you just put that cooking fat down the sink?

Yorkshire’s sewers are being abused and it’s causing all kinds of problems. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we find down the sewer – nappies, false teeth, fat, Christmas trees and even a Spacehopper! As funny as that sounds, all of these things can cause the sewer to stop working and this can lead to flooding.

Hmmm, are we talking about you? You might be a “Numptee” if:

  • you’re one of the 40% of people who dump fats, oils and grease down the sink
  • you’re among the 25% who think it’s OK to put items like cotton buds, nappies or sanitary products down the toilet.

Now, Numptee’s handlers at Yorkshire Water aren’t idiots so naturally the campaign is multi-media and backed by numerous social-media channels. You can follow the red-lipped phenom on Twitter (@MrNumptee) because…

By following Mr Numptee on twitter you’ll be able to see if we are dishing the dirt in your neighbourhood and take a sneaky peak at some of the unusual things that block up our sewers – yes that’s right we really do find strange things down there including one particular problem with knickers!!!

Where's Numptee Jr.'s dirty nappie headed?

If you’re like me, you don’t want to miss a single episode on Yorkshire Water’s YouTube channel. Contest-entering types can give their creative interpretations of exactly what kind of creature Numptee is (see the WIN tab) with top entries receiving cinema tickets, where…that’s right, Numptee trailers will be playing!

I found a lot of interesting information on the campaign’s web pages, including a neat tip to make “Bird Cakes” out of waste fats (the recipe is here.)

Numptee? Bin there, done that. You: don’t do it.

*Britspeak Glossary for Americans!

Bin: Trash can
Cotton Buds: Q-tips or cotton swabs
Knickers: underwear
Nappie: Diaper
Numptee: Dolt, or idiot
Spacehopper: Child’s sit-on bouncing toy

If I Could Place Ads on a Bottle

With demand dropping and prices with it, the bottled water industry needs new business models, and UK-based Soak Media is promoting one tried-and-true idea. Borrowing a page from ad-supported free media, Soak is passing out free ad-laden bottled water to Londoners this summer.

Soak Media friendly staffer

Soak Media friendly staffer

Billing itself as “the refreshing way to talk to Londoners”, the site urges advertisers to…

Get hot and bothered London commuters to engage with your brand by advertising on one of the deliciously cold bottles of mineral water we’ll be handing out across the London commuter network this summer. And don’t forget: this summer’s going to be an absolute scorcher!

Soak Media’s video details their right-time, right-place strategy during “London’s hottest months of July and August.” The company will also do “leaflet tip-ons and bottles moulded to any shape.” And don’t forget, the water is “handed out by our very friendly staff” and enjoys “50 minutes in-hand time.” (And an eternity in a landfill after that?)

Oddly the video ends with the cryptic and vague statement, “all our profits go to charitable causes.” Guess I’ll let that one soak in for a moment.