Council Pop

tapwater was called council popIn the seventies, if you wanted a drink on an ordinary day then there was only one option: tap-water. This was referred to as ‘council pop’, meaning that it was pop for poor people, or that it was the only pop that we would get from our miserly council.
If I was ill or just recovering and needed building up, then I might persuade my mum to give me a glass of milk. (I envied the people in American films where milk and cookies got doled out willy-nilly to kids!) We had one bottle of squash per week for the whole family: lemon or orange. So I might get a glass of that once per day. Then there was the third-of-a-pint sour milk that I’d get at school in morning break. But for the rest of the time, whether at school or home, it would be council pop.
We would see adverts for Perrier on the TV and laugh. Who would buy a bottle of water when you could get it out of the tap for free!? It made us think that the French must be totally nutty. Then gradually, as sugar was demonised and sweeteners were discovered to be carcinogenic, water became the healthiest and hippest thing to drink. Water is now more expensive than pop, so long as it’s bottled of course, and stolen from an iceberg.
bottled water is not as friendly as we used to thinkNow, it’s starting to turn full circle and we are realising that bottled water may be very good for our bodies but is harmful to the environment (duh, plastic bottles? Transportation? Stealing from icebergs??) and we’re turning back to the tap. This is the UK of course: I’ve tasted American tap-water and, uh, no thank you, it is foul.
It is interesting that the substance which was considered povvy-drink when I was a kid has become the most on-the-button drink to be seen drinking. It still flows through the same pipes and from the same council, but it’s not free anymore, now we have water metres.
The only thing is when you’re out and about and you want a drink but haven’t brought a flask with you, or you’re in a restaurant and are expected to buy a drink, you have to get a bottle of something. Asking for tap-water is still frowned on by people who aren’t yet with the programme.

 Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


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