Remeber when you were young, if you were thirsty you went to the tap and drew a glass of water? Unless of course it was Thursday or Friday when the Corona man had been, in which case there would be two bottles of intriguingly bright fizzy pop.

At school you got a bottle of milk at morning break, frozen in the depths of winter, warm as the school year neared its end in the height of summer.

Lunchtime, the dinner ladies filled huge metal jugs from the tap and walked around pouring out glasses of water for anyone who wanted them.
Back home you might get a glass of squash to put you on till teatime when you had a nice cup of tea and finally perhaps a glass of milk to go to bed.

Adults had pretty much a similar pattern, only they drank tea or coffee at elevenses and probably had a nice Morning Coffee or Digestive biscuit to go with it.

Then we had a weird revolution in our drinking habits. We were urged to drink more water, offices began to install water coolers, people started buying water in plastic bottles, and walking about drinking all the time.
School children were allowed to bring bottles of water into the classroom and keep them on their desks continually flipping open the sports caps and sucking at them like babies, all the bloody time.

At the end of the day the bottles would be discarded and Mum would provide a fresh bottle the next day.

People partaking in sport had the ever present bottle of designer water and would break off from their activity to glug down a half pint of Evian. I've even seen people stop swimming to take a drink from their bottle on the side of the pool, and although I am no Becky Adlington I am usually the fastest person in the pool, knocking in the lengths one-and-a-half to two times as fast as the other swimmers, without even breaking a sweat.

Professional sportsmen take every opportunity to grab a drink, well you can understand it with the endurance athletes, marathon runners and road racing cyclists who are making a sustained effort for an hour or more, but footballers and rugby players, every tine the match is stopped there they are, gathered round the trainer having a drink. I couldn't believe it when we went to watch Leeds RUFC, these former stalwarts of sporting excellence who used to play 80 minutes of gruelling rugby, battling through oceans of mud with a ball that weighed half a stone before it got soaked through, whose clothing was made of thick, heavy cotton and boots of the sturdiest leather, who would stop play after forty minutes to have half an orange before resuming the game after a breath catching 10 minute break at the most.

Not anymore. Every time the ref blew for a scrum or a line out, which disappointingly was about every five minutes, the waterboy was on the pitch, dispensing drinks to all and sundry from his little carrying tray of plastic bottles.

How did we fall for this? Civilisations have waxed and waned over the centuries, great artistic, architectural, logistical and engineering feats have been achieved without the aid of plastic bottles of designer water.

Did Michael Angelo take so long doing the Cistene Chapel ceiling because he kept stopping to have a swig from his bottle of Pelegrino?
Did the Egyptians only manage to build one great Pyramid because they also had to transport gallons of water along with the huge blocks of stone?

Would democracy have been founded in Ancient Greece if they had never managed to get a decent discussion going because someone needed a quick slug of the H20?

Would the history of the modern world be radically different if Hitler had a) kept his troops well watered and b) disrupted the bottled water supplies to the rest of Europe?

But at last, we appear to be recovering from this bout of superior hydrocephaly, sales of bottled water have fallen by 9% over the last two years. Restaurants are happier to provide a jug of tap, and the punters are happier to ask for one.

Indeed the bottled water industry is preparing to fight back, it has created a new body, the Natural Hydration Council, a consortium of the industries bigger suppliers, to try and stem the flow of people turning their back on this over hyped, over expensive commodity.
Taking the industry in a slightly different direction the NHC is trying to make a niche for itself in the soft drinks markets. It argues that bottled water is a soft drink, just like Coke, Tango, Pepsi et al.
The only difference is that you can't get a glass of coke from the kitchen tap virtually free.