While listening to news of the protests against the installation of water meters I had what is often nowadays described as a 'light bulb' moment.
You know those flashes of brilliance we all have from time to time where the solution to a problem suddenly becomes clear.
The more I pondered on water charges, the more I became convinced that this is the obvious answer and I now pass it on to the Government free of charge.
Just bring back the village pump.
There would be a multitude of benefits generated by this move. Let the county councils replace all those wonderful old iron pumps that people of my age well remember and let us return to the tried and tested system that served our parents and grandparents so well.
If people wish to enjoy a water supply to their homes, then let them pay for it.
If they don't want to pay then just cut off their supply and let them have access to the good old long handled pumps for free.
There are many advantages to this concept. Those who have to pump water manually most certainly won't waste it, the exercise will do them good and the social benefits of meeting daily to take their turn at the pump will bond communities, while reminding them that water is a valuable resource.
Meanwhile, those who are happy to pay will still enjoy the luxury of water on tap.
There are many ills and ailments that affect modern society, not least of which are loneliness and the lack of human contact.
Even in urban areas, people complain of never seeing their neighbours and the old social customs that ensured we got to talk to each other are long gone.
The fairs were a time honoured way of meeting friends and hearing the latest gossip. They were then replaced by the marts but these are now also reduced in number.
We travel in cars rather than on bicycles or pony and trap and we shop online while sitting alone at home.
Milk is collected by lorry; as are cattle, or else they are delivered direct to a factory with minimum opportunity for a chat.
In recent years even the pubs are mostly empty due to the high price of drink and the fear of being bagged, and all the while, rural post offices and Garda barracks are being closed down. This means we can spend months without having any worthwhile interaction with our fellow human beings.
No wonder there is a huge increase in depression and suicide.
All the wise systems that society developed and relied on for social contact are dead or dying, but the reintroduction of the communal pump would make a wonderful change for the better.
There used to be a pump in every town, village and townland throughout the country and many farms had one in the yard.
It was hard work providing water. First you had to prime the damn thing, and if the leather washer attached to the plunger was dry or cracked it took a long time to get the water flowing.
Just think of what a daily turn at the pump would do for the modern plague of obesity. Instead of attending a keep fit class or going on some rigorous diet, 20 minutes each morning working up a sweat pumping water would do wonders for our nation's health.
The upkeep of our national network of pipes, pumps and filtering systems costs us all dearly through taxation and I have always maintained that water should never be provided free of charge.
Nothing that is free is ever properly appreciated and as a result, it is wasted.
Water is too valuable to treat in this manner.
Those of us who have had to install and maintain our own wells and pumping systems will still have to meet our annual expenses, so why should it be free to others?
Wouldn't it be delightful to see those protesting politicians taking their turn at the pump and then carry their buckets of water home each day before they head for the Dáil? They might, of course, get their drivers to do it for them so we would need a rule forbidding that.
Who remembers the lovely sight of comely maidens coming to fill their pails each day and lingering at the pump while chatting up the local lads?
Dances at the crossroads may well be long gone but the village pump could reinvigorate a whole way of life.
Email: jbarry@ independent.ie