Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
The country has fallen for the small-scale drama of people trying not to get their feet wet.
Today in Britain, a new Internet sensation was born. The new star is not a skateboarding cat, a swearing baby, a blooping newscaster, or a drunk person breaking a hip. It’s a puddle of water.
Yes, that’s right. Thousands of people have tuned in to watch a live feed of people trying to navigate their way across a pool that’s collected on a rain-flooded pathway in Newcastle, Northern England. As I write, the hashtag #drummondpuddlewatch is the number one trend on U.K. Twitter, and the puddle has even reached news bulletins. In a country that’s utterly in love with the banal—our top TV show features people baking cakes—people seem to have fallen for the sight of ordinary people making a modest effort to avoid getting their feet damp.
The Twitter commentary is coming fast and thick. Arguably bored silly on their first week back at work after the New Year, people are reveling in the puddle’s small-scale drama:
COME ON ORANGE BAG LADY #DrummondPuddleWatch— lisa johanna (@NotTheRehearsal) January 6, 2016
Others are marveling at the subtle underlying harmony present in the scene (in reference to this other recent U.K. meme):
Predictably, the Drummond Puddle Cam has also spawned this odd meme:
As news of the puddle has spread, things have gotten a bit meta. Some have pondered whether notoriety will go to the puddle’s head:
These fears seem well-founded. As the puddle’s renown has grown, people have indeed exploited it for their own 15 seconds of fame:
And some genius is now offering a 600ml bottle of Drummond Water for sale on eBay. It’s currently going for over £40,000 ($59,000). (Call us cynical but we’re wondering if the price might just possibly be a case of false bidding.)
There’s actually a serious story behind the puddle live stream. Following heavy rains, much of Northern England entered the New Year under water. The flood victims have complained that the lack of weather defenses is due to government cuts—reflecting a habitual neglect of England’s north by power elites in London and the South. For now, the Drummond puddle offers a light-hearted take on the post-flood cleanup, even though as dusk falls in the U.K., its place in the spotlight is likely to be all too fleeting.