Use less water and still smile

The other day I was thinking about water – which is neither surprising nor original because aren’t we thinking about water all the time? Specifically I was thinking about the amount of water I used to waste brushing my teeth.

I feel skaam recalling my old water-wasting routine. First thing on awaking, I’d stagger to the bathroom and turn on the cold tap in the washbasin. Not full on, mind you, but enough to produce a steady stream of water which went straight down the plughole while I dithered about which toothbrush to use. Would it be the red one which is newish and quite hard? Or the faded old blue with softer bristles?

Dentists usually recommend softer brushes so the bristles are able to bend and get under the gum, but in my water-wasting days my soft brush was past its sell-by-date so it felt I was brushing my teeth with my pinkie. So contrary to advice I usually selected the stiffer red one.

Next step was to find the toothpaste. It could either have been left on the edge of the basin alongside the soap, or put on the shelf under the medicine cabinet next to the nail brush and other odds and ends. Finally when brush and paste had been assembled, I was faced with the task of squeezing the tube to spread a blob of toothpaste over the brush. While all this faffing was going on, the cold water was running away.

Fortunately/unfortunately I did not waste time on the brushing operation. Not for me the recommended two and even three minutes to allow the bristles to remove the bacteria and loosen plaque from teeth and gums. Like most South Africans involved in a recent survey I cleaned my teeth to my satisfaction in between 28-30 seconds after which I wasted even more water swilling out my mouth.

The drought has turned me into a reformed tooth brusher. I do it all in half a glass of water and, using my new soft brush, take much more time to brush all surfaces of my teeth as well as those hard-to-reach back ones. I don’t ever want to see my third set of teeth leering at me in a glass of water beside my bed.

Cyril the saint

As Cyril Ramaphosa prefers to use his second name rather than Matamela, his first, he shares the name with at least eight saints, including the theologians Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem and a Greek evangelist who brought Christianity to the Slavic-speaking regions of Eastern Europe.

Our new president’s name (pronounced “SEER-el”) is of Greek origin from Kyrillos, which is derived from “Kyrios” and means “lordly, masterful”, well-suited to the man in charge of the country. There are a number of variations of Cyril, including Cyrill, Cyrille, Kirill, Kiryl, Kirillos, Kyrylo, Kiril, Kiro and Kyrill.

The name has been given to several famous sportsmen, various successful men in business and science as well as many characters in fiction. These include Cyril Figgis in the TV series, Archer; Cyril Snee, the fictional villain aardvark of the 1980s cartoon series, The Raccoons; and Cyril “Blakey” Blake, the bus-depot inspector from the 1970s British TV comedy series On the Buses.

Probably the character of Cyril Fielding, in EM Forster’s A Passage to India is the most likeable in literature. He was a simple, yet extraordinary, individual who many authors and critics consider mirrored the character of the author. Fielding’s outlook was similar to that of Forster who was kind and sympathetic towards the Indian population and regretted that they were being ruled with force by the British. Like his creator EM Forster, Fielding was always welcome in the home of the locals he encountered on a daily basis.

There’s even a small town in the USAmerica called Cyril. It’s in Caddo County, Oklahoma, and has a population of 1059 people, according to the 2010 census. The inhabitants are dominantly white with a small scattering of African Americans, Native Americans, Asians and a few Hispanic or Latinos. There is no mention that the leader in this town of Cyril ever faced such a noisy bunch of opponents as did Cyril Ramaphosa on his first day in the hot seat!

Fibre the way to go

Fibre-optics are beginning to feel like the rains we desperately want. There’s a lot of talk and advertising about how fibre will be so much faster and better than today’s DSL broadband but the rolling out of the network seems to be taking forever.

Lately whole roads of Tokai are being fenced off with orange and yellow striped “netting” as swarms of labourers dig shallow excavations along the pavements and verges to lay cables to reach individual homes. Some gardens and driveways are being lifted but the Frogfoot team have promised to restore the paving and grass to the original quality, or even better, about two weeks after their work has been completed.

One of the positive things about the fibre network, transmitted via glass-fibre threads rather than copper wire, is that it makes it possible for CCTV cameras to be placed throughout the community so improving the overall security in the area. This might be some compensation for those homeowners not buying into this new advance in telecommunications, nor having any interest in future downloading, or even live streaming, their favourite HD TV shows, movies, games and music from the internet.

Bedside diary

My bed is a magical place where I can suddenly remember all the things I was supposed to do.

fionachisholm@iafrica.com