Magazine article The Spectator

Food

Magazine article The Spectator

Food

Article excerpt

Water. I have nothing against it personally. There are seas of it and lakes of it and it comes in rivers and streams and brooks and it falls from the sky and goes round your washing machine (splish-splosh) and splashes into your bath, so you can have a good scrub (wash-wash), and, when you are thirsty, it is not unpleasant to have a glass of it, although a glass of it is different from two litres of it a day, which is quite another thing altogether, although it's what we should all be drinking, if you go along with the Water Fascists, and if this is a very long and boring sentence, then so be it, because I am in a long and boring mood today and, once I'm in a long and boring mood, it's a struggle to be brief and interesting. You've been warned.

OK, the Water Fascists. They are everywhere, preaching about that two litres a day and its umpteen health benefits. It's the best thing for your skin. It's the best thing for your liver. It's the best thing for your kidneys. Water is 'the forgotten nutrient'. Without it, your legs will drop off and your children will look like Ann Widdecombe. Claire Sweeney, giving her diet tips in the Daily Mirror, says, 'The secret is to cut down on food and drink two litres of water a day.' (Not sure you've got a bcstselling video there, Claire.) Just the other day I approached a cosmetics counter in a department store to purchase an exorbitantly priced skin cream that would not live up to a single one of its promises but, what the heck, I was going to buy it anyway, and you know what? The hag behind the counter (the sort who looks as though she's applied her foundation with a JCB) interrogated me not just on my fluid intake, but also on my output! 'What colour is your wee?' she asked. Listen, love, some things are private, you know. 'Is it dark?' she persisted. Not telling. Go away. Just rip me off quickly, cleanly, efficiently. 'It should be a pale straw colour.' I did not tell her that my previous day's fluid intake probably included 27 coffees, two bottles of red wine, 16 cups of tea and a barrel of Sunny Delight. On the counter was a little sign that read 'Dehydration is every woman's number one enemy'. Actually, mine's the VAT man, but there you go.

Now, as I've said, I've nothing against water, it's just the Water Fascists - who have come from where? Well, call me cynical as well as long-winded and boring, but is it any coincidence that water fascism seems to have risen hand-in-hand with the mineral-water industry, an industry that in the last 20 years has, in this country, gone from nothing to being worth about L2 billion? When thinking water, we don't think tap water any more, do we? We think Evian and Volvic and Vittel and Buxton and Perrier and San Pellegrino (all owned, by the way, by either Nestle or Danone, companies not known for putting health before profit). And what of my parents' generation, who never encountered such fascism and, as far as I can see, drink little or no water? Indeed, I can't recall my mother ever drinking a glass of water. I call her up. 'Do you ever drink water, mum?' 'No.' I tell her she should be dead, by rights. She says, 'Well, I'm not.' See? Not only not dead, but also in full possession of her marbles. She does not suffer from fatigue, headaches or muscle pains, and neither does she look like a pathetically shrivelled raisin. …

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