Michael Chuter, CEO, Pump Aid.
On a normal day I would have my first mug of tea at 7:00, but this is not a normal day. Today is the day I have been nominated to go without tea and I am also going to minimize my use of liquid generally and water in particular.
I use some water for washing, obviously, and drink a few sips after cleaning my teeth but that is all. The average person in the UK uses ten times as much water each day as the average person in Africa. I’m not planning to stop washing or cleaning, but can I stop drinking?
I arrive at the office and my mug from yesterday is still on my desk. I look at it and it says “Come on, you know you want to.” It doesn’t say that of course, it doesn’t say anything, it’s a mug for Heaven’s sake. I stop listening, but it keeps looking at me.
I choose a chicken salad for lunch, mainly because its ingredients look juicy. Lunch in the office is always accompanied by tea, but not today and I feel a genuine sense of loss. It’s not a proper lunch, it’s just food and, as I’m starting to discover, food without liquid is much harder to enjoy.
Throughout the afternoon, though I don’t have any tea, I do keep thinking about it. I don’t think about it when I’m drinking it, but I do when I don’t. I suspect, if I lived in Africa, I’d think about water all the time. Shall I walk to the nearest pump now, will there be a queue, will it be working, will it be safe, what will happen while I’m away? It’s a slightly more complex thought process than do you want chocolate sprinkles on your latte?
Going home I reflect on what I have achieved so far. On a normal day I would have had at least eight mugs of tea by now and it does feel strange. I think it’s less the loss of caffeine and more the lack of liquid. There’s a tightening in my stomach and my mouth is incredibly dry, unpleasantly so if I am honest.
I had been planning to mow the lawn tonight, but it’s too hot and will probably make me want to drink. As you drive around rural Africa you see lots of people sitting in the shade and I think this must in some part be due to lack of water. The lack of fluid is making me feel quite lethargic and I certainly don’t feel in the mood to mow my lawn.
Time for bed, which is always accompanied by a mug of tea which I drink while, washing and winding down. Finally finishing it as the mellow tones of Stephen Fry on Dave waft me off to sleep, but not tonight. I spurn Stephen Fry and watch the Paralympics instead. Now there’s some people who really know how to cope with adversity.