A distinguished columnist, editor and foreign correspondent, Wes Pruden has been a leading voice of conservative thought for more than three decades.
Al and the prince with royal advice
The rich and famous are different from you and me, and a good thing, too. You don't want to get downwind from a lot of their ideas, and sometimes even from themselves.
Prince Charles, like his "progressive" counterparts here, would even deprive a man of a good soak, unless we're talking about taxes. He wants British families to "snub the tub" and take shorter showers to protect the environment. "If everybody in a four-person family replaced one bath a week with a five-minute shower you could save 5 to 15 pounds [sterling] per year off your energy bill." That's $8 to $23 in real money.
Sheryl Crow, the environmentally enhanced pop singer, is jeered in the pulpwood mills for her campaign to save toilet paper, with no applause for her songs sung sadly. She famously proposed "a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting." She thinks one per sitting will do it. Karl Rove was scolded for lack of gallantry when he avoided shaking Miss Crow's hand as she walked up to berate him for being Karl at a dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association. He didn't want to be a boor but he knew where her hand might have been with that one square of two-ply quilted.
Al Gore, who has lately been out of sight, probably in search of a good massage, bobbed to the surface this week to scold Congress again for something or other, no doubt about global warming. He's worried about people using too much water in their ablutions, too, though if he has cut down on his showering, and been taking Miss Crow's advice about proper toilet training, nobody has noticed. Al's mansion in Nashville consumes electricity at a rate of 12 times the average of the typical Nashville house, and a lot of those kilowatts pump water, some of it to the bathrooms accompanying the eight bedrooms.
Back in Old Blighty, the ever buff and bonny prince suggests 20 things Englishmen should do to make life "greener" if not necessarily cleaner and sweeter with a little less reliance on soap and water. The prince thinks that if you can't get rid of the grit between your toes and the grime behind your ears in a five-minute shower the most considerate thing you can do for the planet (if not for your close neighbors) is to leave it be. "We must all strive harder than ever before," he says, "to convince people that by living sustainably we will improve our quality of life and our health and by valuing nature's resources properly we will secure our futures."
This sounds like the sort of lecture we're accustomed to hearing from our betters here in the colonies. He could start with his own relatives. His father, Prince Phillip, 89, does not snub the tub. He fell in one a few years ago and suffered a painful bruise when he landed with his thumb in his eye. Sarah Ferguson, his randy-and-ready one-time sister-in-law, says she lightens her "dark moods" every day with icy baths, though a cold shower would be just as effective. But one of the perks of celebrity is that your list of prescriptions to regulate the behavior of others never applies to you. A spokesman for the prince sniffs that "the Prince of Wales does the majority of things on his list." These include "loving your leftovers" (the secret of fine English cooking), taking vacations close to home, and saving your old paint buckets rather than throwing them away. You never know when you'll need one to carry the night soil out of the chicken house.
The prince, in fact, keeps a flock of hard-working hens to supply the subtle variety of eggs he requires for breakfast. The Light Sussex and Welsummer hens live in a royal chicken house called Cluckingham Palace, designed to recall a Saxon steeple. The London Daily Mail describes the hens as "the creme de la creme" of chickenhood. Lately foxes have been sneaking into the royal chicken house, and sampling the prince's flock of 190 hens. He installed an electric fence to keep the foxes out and the hens get to roam through a large, leafy orchard. These are clearly not Mr. Tyson's chickens. "We keep moving the electric fence to give the hens new grass," says the prince's spokesman, "but the foxes are very cunning."
Royal or not, you don't want to get downwind of the prince's chicken house. Vice presidents and pop singers come and go, but there will always be an England.
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