A bloke can stick up a water tank and collect the stuff when it falls on the roof. For free.
Alf refers, of course, to water.
It’s something he prefers to avoid, although he does consume his share of it in his tea and coffee. And some of his mates put a drop of it into their whisky.
If you don’t get it straight from the skies and into a water tank, which is true for most people nowadays, you can turn a tap and it will flow into a jug, your kitchen sink or the bath.
This being so it has seemed odd to Alf that anyone would want to buy their water in a plastic bottle from the supermarket, then have to hump it home.
But it takes all sorts, eh?
And when there are customers bursting to buy their water in plastic bottles at a supermarket, there will will be someone willing to supply it.
One of these providers is a bloke by name of Tony Falkenstein.
He is making a bit of a splash in the Herald today by having a crack at Alf’s mate, Whaleoil.
And it transpires he is not only in the business of peddling water. He also is in the business of trying to discourage the purchase of products that might make you fat.
To varying degrees, come to think of it, this would cover most products except water.
So what’s his beef?
An anti-obesity campaigner targeted by the Whaleoil blog says he believes allegations an ex-National MP supplied material for the attacks should prompt her resignation as a lobbyist for the food and grocery industry.
Water company director Tony Falkenstein said he believed questions needed to be asked of Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich after claims in Nicky Hager’s new book, Dirty Politics.
If he believes these questions should be asked, he only has to go right ahead and ask them, of course.
Katherine is perfectly capable of answering or – if she prefers – remaining silent.
And if it so happens she has recruited the Whale in trying to resist a concerted (and disconcerting) campaign against sugary drinks – well, so what?
We may suppose that whatever the influence on his thinking about sugary drinks, the Whale might have struck a nerve.
Mr Falkenstein claims he became a target of the blog after emerging as the contact point for people wanting to be involved in a potential class action against soft drink products.
The content of the posts suggested Mr Falkenstein was not interested in health issues but wanted to drive sales for his company, Just Water International.
Alf would never suggest such a thing, let’s get it straight.
Nor would he suggest that oil companies have any interest in the issue when they argue against carbon taxes and what-have-you and challenge the science behind all this climate-change carry-on. Those companies simply want to ensure that governments don’t go doing something daft.
But what makes Falkenstein think the Whale would do Katherine’s work as a lobbyist?
Ah. It’s all because of the bloody Hager book.
In the book, Hager said emails he had obtained through a hacker led him to believe Slater allowed his website to be used for commercial “hit” jobs, including the posts about Mr Falkenstein. Hager claimed the posts were being done on behalf of the Food and Grocery Council, through public relations supremo Carrick Graham – son of former National minister Sir Douglas Graham.
Hager said emails he had obtained showed Mr Graham wrote the articles which were then posted by Slater under his own byline – a claim blog owner Slater denies. Hager alleged Slater was paid $6,555 a month by Mr Graham’s company, Facilitate Communications.
If the Whale denies it, that should be the end of it.
But Alf is bound to say that if Facilitate Communications was to offer him $6,555 a month to facilitate a questioning of one lobbying mob’s assault on soft drinks, he would have no problem in using his blog to do some stirring on behalf of another lobby.
The obviously aggrieved Falkenstein obviously has a different view of the rules of the lobbying caper and is demanding a response from the Food and Grocery Council to Hager’s claims. And:
“If what Hager is saying is true, that should be the end of her. It shows the dirty side of politics, doesn’t it?”
But Falkenstein also says he he was driven from social media by Graham’s Twitter posts, which included attacks on his company.
Presumably this means he was effectively muzzled (or opted to be muzzled).
It sounds like this was a victory for the forces fighting for sugary fizz.
Falkenstein is pissed off:
“It wasn’t a fair battle.”
He said attacks by powerful lobby groups were commonplace in the United States.
“They will use any weapon they can to push their case.”
But if they have a well-supplied arsenal for fighting these battles, why would they not use as many weapons as they need to win?
Is Falkenstein saying he would pull his punches?
We must harden him up. Let’s start by weaning him off water and stiffening his resolve with a good stiffener or two from the bar at the Eketahuna Club.