I was never a big drinker

which is not to say that I haven’t tried to keep up with Wal and Howard who have hollow legs or Ginny (ditto) but I wound up belching, farting, giggling and blurred.  About as far from soignee as you can get. 

Pam the Painter and I (who have  known each other for 25 years) have been known to drink two bottles of Prosecco at a sitting – we liked it long before it was fashionable – though I remain the only person I know who can’t drink champagne. 

Two polite glasses maybe but a drop more and it depresses me to death, crying jag.  And every time I buy tonics, some wiseacre jokes about gin to which I am very nearly allergic.  One gin – pale and woffy. Two gins – lavender with taupe shadows under the eyes and most unwell.  Not worth it.

I longed to be continental, smoking caporal and knocking back Scotch

but neither liked me and I never got the appeal of white wine once I was out of my twenties.   A rose can hit the spot sometimes in the summer, though it is not what I would habitually chose.  I love red wine and Ginny and I used share supper and surprise each other variously with South African blended or Italian experiments – a long way from Chianti – cheering each other on. 

But red wine likes me less than it has ever done.  It stops me sleeping .  So I drink less than I have ever drunk, two grudging glasses of wine on a night when I think I can tolerate the second one and sleep ( I am known to have just one measurable one). 

Or a mean measure of brandy in a long glass filled with ice and tonic (always Fever Tree, who speak advertising truth to purchasing power ie the mixer is two thirds of your drink and it does make a difference) – one.  I have been known to have a second but not more than half a dozen times a year.  Come Armageddon,  I want to be sober.    But I do want to drink Vittel again before I die.

When I first moved in here, I was still working a bit and thus earning.  The local convenience store, which has changed hands and some of the stock but remains convenient, sold Vittel. 

And I drank it. It wasn’t cheap and I gave it up when it was an economy I could make.  A senior representative from the Water Board whom I had interviewed at Talk Radio (when it was a radio station) had written to me delightedly about being allowed a fair shake.   So I taught myself to drink

water from the tap.

Somewhere in there this was reaffirmed by discovering Sarah Helms’s book about Vera Atkins and SOE.  

I first read about Special Operations Executive in the person of Noor Inyat Khan.  The book was called Codename Madeleine and I found it in the school library when I was 14.  Vera Atkins drank two big glasses of cold water to start the day and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.  I also drink water during the day which is what most people forget to do, under and around the two cups of coffee I purr over for breakfast, possibly a cup of tea in the afternoon and whatever else.  But I do miss Vittel.

I pass on soft drinks and cartons of juice.   I have only once drunk Coca Cola – parched, in the Kruger Game Park – and I would rather be thirsty. Mouthwash.  There was once a man who told me on radio he drank 16 cups of white coffee a day and I thought he was potty.  Once I had discovered that I was very nearly allergic to chicory,

gone off and back on to coffee, which took years – it was black as the pit, hot as hell and sweet as an angel. Quite apart from what the latte was doing to his digestion, think of the impact on his wallet.

You can live a surprisingly long time without food and all kinds of other fluid but you need water. 

Make mine Vittel.       

*Cockney rhyming slang: fisherman’s daughter /water.

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