You've really got to hand it to the upper classes. The owners of our stately homes have come up with a genuinely practical way of saving the planet. Pee bales - bales of straw, strategically placed in secluded locations around the gardens. The idea is that when men and boys feel the need to urinate, they are encouraged to relieve themselves onto them. Well, that's the last time I sit down on a bale of straw that happens to be lying about any garden. Fairly common practice for a countryman to chew a stalk of straw as well. Never again.
Rosemary Hooper, of the Wimpole Estate is particularly enthusiastic about this practice. She has the job of 'master composter' and is encouraging the 20 male staff she works with to use the 'pee bales'. She is even inviting visitors to the gardens to join in. After a certain length of time , the 'pee bales' are added to the compost heap. Now, Rosemary is encouraging staff and visitors to "cut out the middle man" and pee straight onto the compost heap. It could even become a group activity - like when the bus stops on the side of the road on the way home from a rugby international. She says "Peeing on the compost heap activates the composting process, helping to produce a ready supply of lovely organic matter to add to add back to the garden. Adding a little pee just helps to get it all going. Its totally safe and a bit of fun too." I suppose it could become a Xmas party game!
And its not just men. I read that Baroness Young, whom I dined with last week in the House of Commons freely admits to peeing on the compost heap. And it seems that Cameron Diaz pees in the shower. I realise that there is absolutely no reason why not - but this news has shaken me to my roots.
I'm sure there will be many of the more genteel members of polite society who will frown on all this. But if it were to be widely adopted, it would save between four and nine litres of water at every stop. It could save the planet if everyone did it. Now none of this is at all noteworthy to the farming community. What do you do if you are ploughing a field a mile from the nearest relief station, or combining non-stop for 24 hours? Just think about it. And The National Trust is backing this new trend. Wonder if it will make it to any of the political party's manifestos.