Do you belong to aquaholics anonymous?


ON a cold January day earlier this year, I was walking along a London street when a woman, her face totally obscured by a huge bottle of water glued to her lips and moving faster than Jensen Button round a hairpin bend, crashed into me.

Which got me thinking. About this strange urge in the UK now to clasp a clear blue bottle and glug on it every six seconds like some kind of marooned, desert creature stumbling forth from a lost world, clutching it possessively as if there’s no other source for miles around and without it everyone will shrivel up and die.


Of course, each person needs a different fluid intake depending on internal and external circumstances. And I have sympathy with those who perspire a lot or live in a hot climate like Spain’s and need to drink copious amounts. But on a cold winter’s day in the UK?

It seems to have become popular at about the same time that many people stopped smoking, drawn to a healthier lifestyle. What it provides is not only a healthy image but something to hold onto and press to your lips. The water bottle has, in fact, become a replacement for the cigarette. What the betting there’s also a tidy little market for bottled air too? Buy your own canister, mouthpiece and refills from Tesco’s so you don’t have to breathe that nasty, second or third hand stuff that’s been in everyone else’s lungs!

Luckily we now have, too, a whole bunch of other nice people willing to rip us off for a bit of mushed up fruit and some carbohydrate-laden frozen yoghurt while we all stand about trying to look super-healthy and ignoring the fact that we are all simply eating baby food. Doubtless we’ll soon be able to cure all our ills with a shot of guava, açaí, goji berry or whatever new magic bean Cosmopolitan is demanding we eat.

This creeping and widespread acceptance of an absurdity is doing for water what PR has already done for coffee. I mean, this whole extra-tall, non-fat, decaf, hot double latte nonsense with a shot of smugness works fine if you’re some hot-shot New York lawyer in a suit so sharp it could slice an apple from across the board room. But when you’re a balding, pasty-limbed nonentity with a throat like the bottom of a budgie’s cage whose place on the corporate ladder is marginally below the staple remover you just can’t pull it off.

If someone had told you 10 years ago that you’d happily be paying more for a litre of water than for a litre of petrol, you’d have suggested they cut back on the meds. There’s a very good reason that Evian spelled backwards is “Naive”.


Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code ( available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca


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