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!