I have long been quietly proud of my bladder control. Not for me the frequent, often urgent, toilet visits of my middle-aged friends. Motorway pitstops not for petrol, just for a pee? Not me. Nor was I ever heard to say, before setting off, “Ooh, I’d better just pop to the loo.” No need, you see. And in pubs, the hours I’d spend drumming my fingers, lonely as a cloud, waiting for my friends to return from the gents. Poor souls, ageing quicker than me, I reflected, smugly.
Hubris, sheer hubris. Last week, I read that a chap of my age and weight – 55, and 97kg (15st 4lb) – should be drinking 3.7 litres (6.6 pints) of water a day. Since I have endeavoured to comply with this guidance, my pride in my bladder has been flushed away. No wonder I could control it – I was hardly putting anything in it.
It takes real commitment to put away that much water. It turns out that while I’ve long started the day with a pint of water, apart from the odd tea or coffee that would be about it until teatime. Not any more. Before I know it, the app I have installed on my smartwatch is badgering me to drink some more. I tend to go great guns until lunchtime then, thirst comprehensively slaked, I lose focus and the target seems to get further away. But the input side of things is less of a challenge than the, erm, output. I’m forever running – and I mean running – to the toilet. And anything I do that involves putting any distance between me and a toilet needs careful planning.
How on earth do the properly hydrated get anything done? How do they ever travel anywhere? It’s a mystery to me. I’d like to know the hydration levels of the highly successful, the super-busy. I bet they’re as low as reservoirs in August. I’m quite sure the lavatories at the G20 are underused. There’s no way those world leaders are doing their 3.7 litres. If they were, we’d forever be seeing them hurrying out of plenary sessions to relieve themselves.
Hydration has changed everything for me, and not in a good way. Never mind the glowing skin – I want my life back.
Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist