Pete May “There’s a hippo in my cistern”

Filed in Product reviews by on November 19, 2008 7 Comments
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There\'s a hippo in my cisternPete May well have a hippo in his cistern, but the Green’s ended up with Sunday lunch at some unearthly hour thanks to the fact I couldn’t put down his book. The cat was pacing up and down, Little Miss Green did her best starvation and neglect act and Mr Green went, well, decidedly green actually, as lunch preparation gave way to a good read in front of the fire.

Back in the nineties; Pete May was a self confessed larger-loving-lad without a thought or a care about his carbon footprint. Fast forward a decade and a bit and he’s now a green-crusading Dad thanks to a chance meeting with an activist eco woman whom he fell in love with.

There were a few uncanny similarities between Pete’s life and my own. When I first met Mr not-so Green he would come round wearing his coat (which he would not take off all evening), would wolf down assorted lentil bakes (and subsequently supplement his diet with bacon sandwiches from the garage whilst claiming that he ‘needed’ meat) and while I was drinking my herbal tea, he would be throwing beer cans in the bin.

A typical evening for me was to felt something warm to wear from the recently combed cat hair, whilst listening to an ambient chillout cd under the influence of some healing Tibetan incense.

Meanwhile at his house, Mr ‘whiter shade of pale’ would be in shorts with the heaters turned up, blasting out the Red Hot Chilli Peppers whilst planning the colour of his next Aston Martin and figuring which air freshener to buy for it.

He’d watch X files, I’d be sorting my recipe files.
I said “potato”, he said “chips fried in lard please”.
I said “tomato”, he said “pass the ketchup”.

But now we have some serious role reversal going on. No, Mr Green hasn’t turned into a transvestite. Mr Green is now Mr darker shade of Green.

He doesn’t leave the house without his shopping bag, we’ve just traded in our gas guzzler for something that gives us more MPG rather than pulling power, he’s installed a woodburner, buys his clothes from charity shops and recycles for England. He quizzes checkout girls about their recycling policies and scowls at people who take a carrier bag for less than three items. He eats organic and buys from a food Co-Op. He washes at 30 degrees and hangs the washing on the line. This year I’m getting a fairly traded Christmas present and he no longer turns his nose up at my home made greetings cards (which is some achievement, as they are pretty dire).

So you see, I LIKED this book. A lot. I could sympathise, empathise and giggle my way through the pages with a comforting feeling of familiarity. And I always have the greatest of respect for people who never say never and are able to evolve throughout their lives. Which, includes Mr Green and Pete May.

You might remember that when I began my journey into zero waste at the beginning of this year I lasted all of 24 hours. Once I’d picked a wine bottle out of the bin that was covered in used tea bags and slimy vegetable peelings I gave it up as a bad job.

Fast forward a few months and now *I’m* the one doing an exacerbated ‘Oh just BUY it for goodness sake!’ in the supermarket when we’ve been standing there for ten minutes in the chiller aisle examining everything for the best packaging choices.

If, like me, you’ve had more than your fair share of fruit flies in your compost bin, have chucked something in the bin when your partner’s not looking, turned up the heating when they’ve gone away for the weekend or sworn when tripping over the umpteenth pile of might-come-in-handy-one-day clutter recycling then you’ll love this book.
It’s the hilarious tale of two polar opposites trying to find some common ground. But find it they do.

My favourite chapter is ‘clucking hell’ when you hear all about Pete May’s chicken-keeping antics – how can you not fall in love with his traumatised chicken who’s legs stop working through shock? And how can you not sympathise with a man who is terrified this his privates will be attacked by something lurking in a compost loo?

Thankfully it seems that all is fair in love and the war against climate change and Pete and his lovely wife Nicola are still living in happily ever after land doing their bit for the planet whilst arguing over what to watch on TV.

Want to win a copy of the book? Then enter our competition.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (7)

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  1. Al says:

    Looks like a fab book, must find a copy, if anybody near me wants a free hippo I have three to give away in return for a nice chat, some coffee and slice of cake šŸ˜‰ More info of course on the beloved ooffoo:

    http://www.naturalcollection.com/marketplace/advert/Water-saving-Hippo-anyone.aspx

    Nice one Mrs G!

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Well, there’s a lot of reference to football in it, which really got my goat, but after I got my goat back, I could forgive Mr May that, as the rest of the book is so entertaining.

    I’ve just launched the competition, so why not enter Al?
    Good luck with finding new homes for your hippos. I have one somewhere too – I’d better dig it out and offer it up.

  3. Al says:

    hahaha sounds like my kinda book. Def gonna check it out now šŸ™‚ Am entering as we speak!!! Lets free those hippos mate šŸ™‚

  4. Poppy says:

    We lost one of our hippos when we had the cistern replaced as the fitter assured us that the new cistern was much smaller. Most (ahem!) jobs flush fine, but occasionally and extra flush is needed.

    Last years ‘no water flooding’ experience was a real eye-opener for the way we take water for granted in this country. If we were talking about waste water, I would have to nominate my DH as the most wasteful person in the house!

    The book sounds fascinating and if it mentions football, I may possibly, perhaps….. be able to get Mr P interested šŸ™‚

    Just need to think about my worst dump and run item now šŸ˜‰

  5. Kris says:

    If anyone in the Chelt/Glos area wants to read the book I have a library copy out at the moment and could return it to somewhere near you… when I’ve read it šŸ™‚

  6. Kris says:

    Very enjoyable šŸ™‚

    It’s a very quick and easy read – I was lucky that I started it on a Friday morning, in which I had some waiting around time, and was able to read straight through during the afternoon and evening, stopping only to feed the other half and his guest.

    Funnily enough, it was the bit I wasn’t expecting that I enjoyed the most – added to Pete May’s lads mag journo perspective was his love of Doctor Who and tendency to compare his experiences to moments in the show which was very resonant with me šŸ™‚

    I also liked that it took me into the world of the serious Green, with big political stances and discussions filtered through Pete’s narrative.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    Glad you enjoyed the book, Kris. And pleased you stopped to feed your DH. I only just managed that šŸ˜€
    Ahhh, I couldn’t relate to the Dr Who stuff either (or the football) so it must be a good read to have kept me entertained……….

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