Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Dry

You know sometimes you buy stuff (vitamins, socks, other things that are not coming to mind) and they have those small sachets of silica gel in them? To keep them from getting damp? I think someone must have put enormous ones all over the house and in my bed and in my handbag and in the office. I am SO DRY. I am parched. My skin rustles when I touch it. My nose and eyes and mouth feel papery. Let's not even mention my lips. They would make small children cry.

The problem is I hate water. It's so cold. And boring. And wet. It makes me feel queasy. Blah. Do not tell me to squeeze a lemon in it to make it more 'interesting'. That does not work. It just makes it sour and bitty. Everything about water is so unappealing to me; the water cooler is an exhausting ten yards away. The plastic cups feel hellish against my dessicated face, and if I bring a bottle, like proper girls do, the cleaners spirit it away overnight, leaving me exactly where I started. If I want the water not to be so cold that I sob when my mouth touches the cup, I have to mix it with the hot water (quaint, Belgian water cooler, dispensing only cold and 'semi-hot' - not hot enough for tea, not cold enough for drinking. If I wanted to take a bath in the office, it would be perfect), invariably getting it wrong and turning the cup into a fetid stew of carcinogens.



I have tried to address the water thing. I got myself one of these:






A magnificent moustachioed pint glass (from here). It worked for a couple of days, but now it sits empty and reproachful, with a ring of dried white residue around the middle.


Home is ok because I can drink tea (or grenadine if I'm feeling retro), but here on the corridor of ennui tea is a vexed question. Firstly, there is no properly hot water. The coffee machine proposes an option it describes as "heet water", but it is a lie. It spits out the dregs of the last person's coffee, then coughs up a couple of spoonfuls of pond slime. The water cooler, as described above, dispenses bath water.


Secondly, the 'tea' on offer is the scourge of expat Brits everywhere, the dreaded Lipton Yellow.


Lipton yellow tastes like pencil shavings, with a top note of bile. They probably serve it at Guatanamo. There is a reason British people throughout the world travel with suitcases full of PG Tips, or Yorkshire Gold, or in my case Bettys Team Room Blend nestling next to their jars of marmite and packets of Ginger Nuts, and the reason is Lipton Yellow. Moreover, there is no milk on the corridor of ennui. There are small tubs of stuff called 'koffie slag' or "koffie room" or similar. It is vile. You can't put it in tea. Once, just after I started work here, I made the mistake of getting "tee met melk" out of the old coffee machine. It was lemon flavour powdered, sweetened tea with this scummy mass of yellow koffie room in it. I nearly resigned on the spot.

There are also a limited selection of unwelcoming herbal teas on offer; but herbal tea is the work of the devil. I drink it sometimes because I brainwashed myself so effectively in my twenties that I thought I liked it. I don't. The ones here are so unappealing I just can't make myself. The only herbal-ish tea I do like is Rooibos, because it tastes like tea and comes in glorious packaging. Of course, they don't have that. They have rosehip, and lime flower. Pouac, as the CFO would say (and he would, you won't catch him dicing with herbal beverages).


You are perhaps wondering why I do not bring in my own tea. I would direct your attention to the car crash heap of incompetence that is my life. I haven't got around to clipping Oscar Scissorhands' claws, collecting my parcel from the Post Office, paying my credit card bill or cancelling our internet subscription from September. Tea is waaaay down the list. Sometimes I do go to one of those beautiful tea selling shops full of civilised individuals and baroque music, and allow myself to be seduced into believing that I am the kind of person that drinks rare leaf teas that sell for €12 for a hundred grammes; "un séduisant mélange de thé vert Sencha de Chine parsemé de fleure de bleuets". I am reading that off the - untouched - sachet on my desk. You know I do this - I've shown you my tea shelf:


There is a reason it looks so clean and neat. I never touch it. I am too busy drinking endless pints of builders' tea.

The way it goes with my rare, expensive, leaf teas is this. I make the tea once; it is nice, I am smug. I drink a pot of it from my nice glass teapot. The next day, I come in and am faced with an inch of cold tea and eighty million tea leaves in my now scummy, dark brown teapot. The effort of getting the invidious leaves out of the pot (with my hands? banging hard against the bin? blocking the sink in the ladies? There is no solution. The leaves get everywhere. They are clammy and disgusting) is too much for me. I give up. The teapot sits on my desk reproachfully getting more and more foul. I hide it under the desk. It continues to fester. Eventually I wash it, and its delightful bouquet of mould, out. It is arduous and disgusting. The last thing I want after this is to make tea again. I have accepted I am simply not the kind of person who can live up to nice tea. I am not worthy.

Coffee is fine. It's not great, it's tasteless Dutch koffie, but it's drinkable. Coffee I got. It's not helping with the DRY though. Does anyone have any tricks which are not culled from the pages of Zest magazine and its frankly implausible 'zest of lemon' or 'handful of crushed fresh mint' ridiculousness to up my fluid intake? Before I dessicate entirely and turn into a heap of dust, à la vampires in Buffy? Thank you; I know I can rely on you. Hurry!

50 comments:

justme said...

Hot, cold or lukewarm, its always deliciously comforting. And if you get the no added sugar sort, it doesn't rot your teeth either.

justme said...

RIBENA! I meant to say.....

karenmc said...

Could you flavour your water with a good Scotch? Makes everything less painful ...

Gin? Looks like water, so you could have a big glass on your desk.

And just in case you want to visit at some stage, I will hide the Lipton Yellow Label in the back of the cupboard & pretend I drink nothing but the good organic tea that i hide from the husband.

expateek said...

It's probably disgusting, but I drink room temperature fizzy water straight from the liter bottle. At least it feels festive. That is, until my esophagus seizes up with cramp when I down it too fast. Never been any good with fizzy drinks. Don't know why I bother. But I agree, plain water is just too damn wet.

Pochyemu said...

http://www.koolaiduk.com/index.php?cPath=38&osCsid=e27bddcd1ce8bc9baab7ebc8a84e7790

These Crystal Light sachets are amazing. My mom and I swear by them. Put one in a litre of water and you'll think you're drinking juice...only, without calories and without leaving sugary film in you mouth. On this UK website they are very expensive. My mom needs to post me a package anyway, and I was going to ask her to include some anyway, so I'll get some for you and send them over if you like. Sorted!

Juci said...

Juice? Tropicana has some very nice varieties.
I like water, I just forget to drink most of the time. When I was pregnant I made a rule to have a glass of water or some other drink every time I took a pee. (Afterwards, I mean.) It was easy to remember once I got used to it.

Ali said...

I always tell people I am allergic to water. You'd be surprised by the number of people who don't bat an eyelid. Anyway, I never touch the stuff - fizzy water is better.

My husband introduced me to Rooiboos last time I had morning sickness. As a consequence, I vomited a bit in my mouth at the mere mention of it in your post. Disgusting stuff.

Mrs Jones said...

Introduce yourself to Robinson's Pink Grapefruit Cordial. A proper 'squash' for grownups. You don't need much (certainly not as much as 1 part squash to 4 parts water which is what they suggest on the bottle) and it's a lovely shade of pink! I drink gallons of this during the summer.

Iheartfashion said...

I hate water too.
But I can tolerate fizzy water between cups of coffee. It's my only source of hydration, and I am dry as dust too.

Jaywalker said...

I am leaning towards gin. Easier to get hold of than Robinsons, Ribena or Crystal Light (though yes please Pochyemu!)

Fizzy water people - yes? Really? It's not quite as wet, I suppose.

P said...

Fizzy water. Rose's lime juice. Packet of Splenda. DONE.

Mrs C said...

If you ever come to Paris and can stand to do so, I shall take you to my friend's tea house in the 13th (L'OisiveThé).

Even the name of the place is right up your alley... ;-)

Shoe Envy said...

I always have diet lemonade - only 3 calories per can or something. This does however mean it tastes like crap, so I top it up with lime cordial. Sorted. I have never bothered to calculate whether it would be easier just to drink full fat lemonade...

bonnie-ann black said...

while i am fine with drinking water, i know whereof jaywalker speaks -- my mother *chokes* on water. tea is fine though, i think the added milk just gives water enough heft to not choke her.

as for the "hot" water coming through the coffee machine -- uck! ugg. we have the same situation here, which i wrote about on my blog not long after returning from england:

http://www.thebonnieblackfaerie.com/2008/11/the_art_of_tea.html

and how i used to have this ritual of cleaning out the coffee machine and still only getting barely hot enough water. for christmas, my sister gave me a small electric kettle, which now sits on my desk. i bring a box of Tetley's British Blend with me to work (or some of the nice Whittard's that katyboo sent me). the office supplies sugar, milk and spoons. life is good. my one cup in the morning lifts my spirits for the rest of the day, and no more messing about cleaning out the disgusting coffee machine.

Red Shoes said...

Electric desk kettle is a good idea! I have no good ideas of my own, really. I am also desperately, desperately dry. Half my lower body flakes away into my pants when I take them off. Too bad half of my fat gut won't follow suit.

What about Limonata, San Pellegrino or sparkling Italian soda? Also, not sure if Bionade is available where you are but International Best Friend swears by them. She gets them in Berlin but maybe there is decent European distribution?

A Woman Of No Importance said...

JW, I swear by a tinge of Elderflower Cordial - feels very English, and makes water very palatable... For the dry skin, my therapist recommended I take a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil each day, like medicine - or sprinkled on pasta, whatever - I've never managed to stomach it for long enough to confirm it works, though!

Word verif. is unbelievably 'retsh'!

diyblueslopesonly said...

Beer obviously, you need to have a sufficient quantity per day such that you drink water in volume during the night and early morning thus achieving a yin/yang balance. Om

bevchen said...

I would suggest squash, but if Belgium is anything like Germany they'll never have heard of such a thing.

What the Germans do is take fruit juice and dilute it with fizzy water. They call it "Schorle" and it tastes a billion times better than plain fizzy water (which I detest. How can anyone actually LIKE drining something that tastes of carbon??). I'm sure it would work with non-fizzy water as well if you don't havy any of the fizzy stuff around.

Kate said...

WV is satin...

Could you get an electric kettle to have at work? One of those little desk ones maybe? Then you could have tea... though that doesn't solve the milk problem.

I've gotten used to water. I don't know why. But I can't drink it super cold. When I was pregnant (and in France), I got so sick of drinking it that I started buying all of those sirops. I had grenadine, lemon, lime... It made it bearable for me. Now, I just drink water or green tea that I use a tea ball for. It makes the cleanup easier.

And I'm in total agreement. Lipton yellow is vile. The Frog used to drink it but now he prefers a somewhat decent Earl Grey.

La Belette Rouge said...

I am convinced that He-woozle is taking the silica pacs instead of vitamins. He is turning into an allygator( we say alligator like Norwegians do. Don't ask!).

Fat Controller said...

I feel your pain. Even in the best hotels in Denmark, when you order a cup of tea, you get an exquisite little wooden box containing a selection of teabags containing either fruit 'tea' or bleeding Liptons Yellow Label, and a thermos of lukewarm water. This is why we always bring a suitcase full of Twinings's Earl Grey (leaf tea of course) back from UK every time we visit. We usually have to clear the shelves in at least three supermarkets to make up a year's supply.

To the problem of the grouts. You must have a Danish Food Centre or something in Brussels. Try to get hold of Telia tea filters (not to be confused with the Norwegian phone company of the same name). You can get a holder which sits in the top of the teapot, holding the mouth of the filter open, then you spoon in the tea and then pour the water on. Afterwards you just throw the bag of grouts away. Simple, though I have never seen them for sale in the UK. When we lived over there we had to bring in a year's supply on our annual holidays in Denmark. Plus ça change

Fat Controller said...

P.S. I have heard it rumoured that Belgium produces some quite nice beers.

Jaywalker said...

You are all full of ingenious ideas.
P - I like Roses. Hmm. Might try.
Mrs C - yes please! I love tea if someone else is cleaning up the leaves. Soon please.
Shoe envy - and does it make you feel less like a dried out twig?
Bonnie-ann - I wonder about the kettle. But Dirk the building maintenance manager is very stern.
RedShoes - Will investigate Bionade. It sounds like something Batman would drink.
Woman - Violet is a fan of elderflower. Another tricky one to find here, I fear.
DIYblue - Yes. Beer is a good option. It is on the table at all our office meetings (I swear this is true and I will bring photographic evidence).
Bevchen - squash! Another expat classic along with your potato waffles. Little Red Boat Anna is missing squash a LOT in San Francisco.
Kate - the sirop is quite moreish. Mm. The Lipton Yellow is the devil's work.
Belette - If you find a way of rehydrating him will you let me know, my dear?

In other news, everyone in this house is behaving SO badly tonight. I am disowning all of them. The fish can stay.

Jaywalker said...

Fat Controller - you get the wooden box and the thermos of lukewarm water too?! It's an abomination. Interesting tea leaf idea. I will investigate.

Kitschen Pink said...

send the office junior out for decent tea? failing they do ready mixed G&T in clever little handbag sized tins....t.x

Jaywalker said...

KP - on the Eurostar they have ready mixed cocktail in little pouches like you sometimes get for children for fromage frais or compote. Genius!

Grit said...

i use two thermos flasks. i boil water at home, then pour it into the flasks and carry them everywhere, drinking from them in minute sips because i am obsessed about my liver. and that is it. hot water. sometimes with a twig of green tea in it. is this not vile?

on the plus side, i may live till i am aged 96 and have a lovely liver.

Jaywalker said...

Grit - oh, absolutely. I can quite imagine you aged 114 telling everyone how lovely your liver is, and asking if they want to see it.

I on the other hand will live fast and die young with my reckless approach to hydration. Rock n roll!

redfox said...

I too hate hate water, and especially cold water. Like others here, I subsist on room temperature fizzy water. This means periodically lugging six liter bottles of San Pellegrino to work on my back, which is suboptimal. I need to find a way to get someone to deliver it to my office by the case. I also have an electric kettle at my desk, though endless cups of tea as one's only liquid intake turns out to be somewhat inadequate in the dire dryness induced by the combination of super-cold weather and forced-air heating.

Elderflower cordial is my other trick, which is to say that I have nothing new to add to this conversation. When confronted with a water cooler of only too cold and not-quite hot, I fill a glass part of the way with cold, and the rest of the way with hot, then add the elderflower.

A week ago I ran out of fizzy water and elderflower both, and got so dried out that I was convinced I was coming down with some horrible flu. Then I thought, "What it actually feels like is that I am badly hungover, but this seems unlikely given that I had but a single bourbon last night. What the hell?" and it finally dawned on me that what I was was dehydrated. Truly, I am a genius!

redfox said...

Do you have an Ikea? They have elderflower cordial, I believe.

Rosie Redfield said...

Drinking more water isn't going to do anything for your dry skin - you'll just have to pee more often.

Get some cheap bath oil instead. Your skin will love it.

redfox said...

While I'm filling up the comments here chatting with myself, I would like to report that my lap blanket arrived. Hooray! But then our favorite teapot just broke spontaneously. Boo! And I just looked at the bottom and realized that it was a Denby (from my grandmother) and therefore will cost a pretty penny to replace, and yet I don't feel inclined to replace it with something lesser. Double boo. Tiny tragedies.

ptooie said...

I've been drinking "vitamin water" but I have no clue if it's available in Europe. It's the first flavored water I could stand the taste of.
For the skin though, I've become quite fond of Olay Quench lotion (the purple one). Super creamy and luscious to put on. Avon makes a decently moisturizing lotion as well, I think it is called 'vitamoist' but forgive me if I don't go check right now because my 3 year old wouldn't let me back at the computer if I get up.
Whatever, you must try something so you prevent the (wv) scurvers.

pinklea said...

I hate drinking water, as well. I've been trying to force myself to drink a (very tiny) glass of the stuff every time I go to the bathroom, but I'm not sure that's enough to make a difference. I like the bath oil idea, though. That at least smells good and I'll get a really close shave on the legs!

Lisa said...

Oh hell. I've got nothing. I schlep water bottles around, but I am hardly a proper girl.

HIMSELF said...

Funny stuff - hydration is time of day dependent... Earl Grey loose (Twinings is best - all bags are floor sweepings!) oversteeped with a teaball, Splenda/sugar mix and 2% milk in the morning followed by Colombian coffee freshly ground. As the day wears on SodaStream comes to the rescue with Cranberry Rasberry or Ginger Ale with the exact fizziness and concentration you like best...(Not to mention the convenience of never having to go to the store and lug heavy drinks... too much more and I'll sound like an ad!) Maybe a cup of Stash double bergamot in the afternoon (yes it's a bag, go on then!) closely followed by SodaStream tonic and the cheapest gin one can tolerate!

I read recently a news story that reminded me of an Asian friend of mine who would chase every meal with a cup of hot water from the spigot-o-germs water cooler. (Have you ever looked into the spill tray? BLEH!) The story suggested that drinking hot beverages is an understood good thing in many cultures because it conserves body heat and energy. Now there is science stating how cold beverages are bad for the heart, etc. I tried a cup o water hot - Eh! ... ANYWAY, hydration is a lovely thing!

Lisa said...

I forgot to say thank you for the link to the mustache glass! I have got to get myself one immediately.

SUEB0B said...

I have the same struggle with water. Every single day I say "This is the day when I will consume sufficient amounts of water." And then I consume ONLY the four following liquids: coffee, red wine, gin, and tonic. That is all.

River said...

I notice you all drink your tea with milk. am i the only person left in the world who drinks tea with a slice of lemon? No milk, ever. I drink plain water and don't mind it. I prefer fizzy water but can't afford it too often, so it's plain water, about a litre every day. We're currently in a heatwave here in Australia, so even with my litre a day, I'm still feeling very dry.

Jaywalker said...

Redfox - yes, they do, don't they? Away to the yellow and blue deathstar with me! Hooray for the lap blanket (you sound ninety five now, which I consider a good thing) and oh no for the teapot.

Rosie - the heating is broked. Again. No baths, but when fixed I will try and remember. It's the dryness in the throat and nose that I hope to conquer with fluids.

Ptooie - I think I already have scurvers. I eat nothing but white food and drink nothing but tea and coffee. Doomed.

Pinklea - down with water.

Lisa - I like your new picture!

Himself - I am intrigued that you are in thrall to a soda stream. I thought they died out in 1983. Homemade G&T with cheap gin is my kind of drink, however.

SueBob - and yet, I have seen a picture of you and you do not look like Ramses II. There is hope, apparently.

River - do you want to KILL US in Europe? It is grey and cold and horrid here. Do not tell me about your sunshine. I will cry.

livesbythewoods said...

Try eating satsumas or lychees or pineapple as well. They are full of juice and might help a bit.

And if nothng else, they are lovely, and give you the feeling of having a little break from work while you peel them. Not the pineapple, though, that would be a lunch hour activity.


My WV is quets. I think I had that once, but talcum powder sorted it out.

katyboo1 said...

Try my cocktail:

Two parts Creme de la mer

One part Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream.

A pint of guinness.

A whisk.

You may want to put some glace cherries in there for vitamin content.

p.s. do not drink the whisk. Use it to whisk...

screamish said...

you dont have rabies, do you? just a thought.

Jaywalker said...

Screamish - wouldn't I have excessive moisture around the mouth if I had rabies? Like, foaming?

Katyboo - It sounds delicious. Presumably cheap generic versions of the ingredients don't work?

Livesbythewoods - Like those fruit bowls at meetings! I always want someone to take the pineapple and just bite into it.

nappy valley girl said...

Guess you could always carry around your own saline drip to rehydrate? Like junior doctors are supposed to do when they are hungover (which my husband tells me actually goes on...)

More than a Mother said...

So many comments about tea! Jay, you have a devoted and loyal following :)

Hot Vimto - lush!

Elsie said...

This post has left me with an unslakeable thirst – carrying tankards of water around the office and slamming them down on conference tables.

rose22 said...

haha- almost makes me nostalgic for living in Brussels!
I conned myself into drinking mint tea (sorry, infusion) from the herbal tea selections, or sometimes the lint one.
Better than the water (which in any case has such a high magnesium content no one needs to add fibre to their diet... ever).
But couldn't you keep grenadine on the desk and drink lait russe in cafes (milk=fluid)?

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