Every time I have a new book published by Puffin they kindly arrange a week long book tour around the country and send a chaperone with me so I have a friend to eat breakfast and dinners with at the lovely hotels they put us up in.
But during my latest book tour, a few weeks ago, for ‘The Runaways’ my husband, who was at home looking after our golden retriever Bella, phoned up early one morning (I think I was in Great Malvern at the time) and said:
‘We’ve got no water!’
No water to drink or have a shower or flush the loo with.
While he was speaking to me he saw a neighbour going past and opened the front door to ask him if he had any water?
‘Nope. No one in the street’s got water.’
And no one knew why.
My husband, who is a love, decided to buy some water for himself and Bella and 3 elderly neighbours on our street who he thought might not be able to nip out and get some for themselves.
‘Speak to you later,’ he said, as he headed off.
An hour later we were just eating our lovely hotel breakfast and sipping our coffee in the restaurant when my phone rang again.
‘There’s been a riot in the supermarket,’ my husband told me.
It turned out it wasn’t just our street. It was the whole area where we live. Thousands of people had woken up to find they had no water.
The supermarket had been heaving with thirsty, unwashed people by the time my husband got there. One man had filled his large sized supermarket trolley to the brim with cellophane wrapped packets of bottled water and when the supermarket manager (who only lives over the road from us and we know well) tried to tell the man that water was being rationed he tried to race out of the door with it all still in his trolley without paying, smashing his way through the cut flowers in the supermarket foyer.
The police had to be called to contain the escalating water panic.
And do you know what? Two hours later the water came back on as mysteriously as it had gone off. But all that day it made me think of what it would be like to wake up and not have any water. Sometimes the countries that are facing water crises seem so far away. But the people must be feeling, if not acting, like the man who tried to run out of the supermarket with as much water as he could. Because who knew what would happen when there was no water left to buy?
When I got home our neighbours’ thanked me for sending my husband round with water for them but I said it didn’t have anything to do with me. I was away all week. But as I said he is a love. 🙂
Megan Rix’s latest book is ‘The Runaway’s about an old circus dog called Harvey and a mother and baby elephant who get separated during WWI.