If you’re reading this from the fabled First World of Indoor Plumbing, you may not know that Ireland and the UK still feature separate hot and cold taps. You might then reasonably assume that we also burn dried cow shit in our stoves, burn strangers, and have the local blacksmith to pull rotten teeth with a pair of tongs while we slug whiskey and clutch crudely-cured leather belts. But it’s only our washbasins which have been held in stasis, as if our kingdoms were once cursed by a hydrophobic witch.
- But as you revel in your unicorns of hygiene, those magical single taps which can caress human skin without flaying or freezing it, you might not know the manifold uses of separated taps:
- Not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing, especially when that thing is screaming in pain.
- Generating emergency power from an efficient thermocouple which anachronistically exists in a time when people apparently can’t work out how to join two pipes together.
- Honoring the Thing of the Fantastic Four, who sacrificed his ability to feel almost anything with his rock skin, with one everyday item which might just lend sensation to his solid stone epidermis.
- Waiting for water to mix provides ample time for thought, and where better to reflect on the realities of life than a room where you’ve just taken a shit?
- Reminding peons not to take more than the barest moment away from their assigned workstations.
- Reinforcing the lesson that many systems allegedly built for your comfort and convenience simply do not care, and would rather hurt you every day than make the least effort to change.
- A reminder that humans cannot be trusted, as many would rather install a brand new cover with the exact same problems than fix the deep systemic flaws affecting the most vital necessities, such as the rotten and unhygienic water systems which first necessitated the use of separate taps.
I was quite surprised by the separate taps when I visited the UK a few years ago. It was something I literally had never encountered before, and coming from Australia, where we’re pretty much raised from birth to abhor wasting water, it’s quite difficult to deal with the idea of running a sink full of water just to wash your hands without freezing them. (And even if you do that, you can’t rinse them properly, because the water you’re rinsing them in is now all dirty and soapy.)
My hands tended to be cold.
I just looked it up. What. Who inflicts this on other human beings? Why?