Sunday 17 February 2008

My guilty secret

I have a confession to make. It is one I make with some considerable trepidation, as I know that what I am about to reveal will have me condemned to the realms of outer darkness by those who think I am (a) stupid (b) single-handedly destroying the planet or (c) simply a social pariah. My habit was until recently thought to be harmless, if not positively good for me. Now it is seen as even worse than driving a gaz-guzzling 4X4 in London or spilling raw sewage into our rivers. Tomorrow night's Panorama is devoted entirely to this clearly filthy habit. Nevertheless, I will let you in on my guilty secret: I drink mineral water. And I have no intention of swapping it for what comes from my tap even if a combination of Phil Woolas, Giles Coren and Jeremy Vine try to force me to do so. First, the water I drink is sparkling, and as such is good for the digestion; indeed I'd start to be very worried if that from the tap sparkled. Second, I don't particularly like the taste of the water from taps, no matter how good people claim it to be. Third, when I'm drinking mineral water I am generally drinking less alcohol or less of other fizzy alternatives, which have already been condemned as unsuitable, not less tap water. And fourth, unless I'm abroad where I drink the national mineral water, I tend to drink British or Irish mineral water, which is providing thousands of people with gainful employment and shouldn't involve any air miles. Indeed I have yet to hear those who champion this latest piece of political correctness explain why drinking sparkling British or Irish mineral water necessarily involves the use of any more glass or plastic than the materials used to package Coca Cola, imported lager or their doubtless cherished organic New Zealand wines. Perhaps I will give in if the NHS establishes a Quit line to help wean us mineral water drinkers from our terrible habit.

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