17.12.2005 09:22 - Thunderball
The story I am about to relate has been a terrible, embarrasing secret of mine since 1975. It has been hidden in the darkest recesses of my mind, cloaked in layers of humiliation, angst, tears and sorrow since that dark day, until now, when I am about to parade it on a world-wide document archival system, in an attempt to get a cheap laugh, which should tell you the sort of person you're dealing with. Someone who writes very long sentences, if that last one is anything to go by.
The story starts one afternoon with me sitting at my desk in the third year at Churchfield School, Rugeley, in Mr. Gay's class. Yes, that was his real name. Yes, he probably suffered for it. He was also a good guitarist, and I wish I'd picked up the instrument earlier and had the benefit of his tuition. However, I digress. It is 1975. I am nine years old, and a terrible little swot. I am also, and this is important, wearing shorts, it being a nice summery day. Underneath these shorts, I have some typical 1970s underpants. These are a) made of nylon and b) have a rather fetching purple paisley pattern upon them. I have not yet discovered the terrible static-generating properties of this underwear, when worn with a pair of tweedy woollen trousers, mainly due to the fact that all the children's seats are made of wood, thus insulating our innocent little limbs against sudden electrostatic discharges, which were all too common in those pioneering days of man-made fabric.
I am also experiencing, for the first time in my life, and unfortunately, not the last, urgent messages from my stomach and bowel. Now, these days, my sphincter is battle-scarred from encounters with the worst that British, Indian and Chinese cuisine, not to mention italian sausages from Aldi, could throw at it, but then, it was innocent, virgin (I know what you're thinking and you better put those thoughts to the back of your mind right NOW) and unscarred by dysintery, and so these strange feelings are somewhat alien to me, and I have not yet acquired the experience to see the catastrophe that looms before (or rather, behind) me.
These messages become increasingly worse as the afternoon goes on, becoming ever more Scotty-like in proportions. To whit : there is disaster beckoning in the engine room, the magnetic fields are on the verge of collapsing, and when they do, unspeakable forces are going to be let loose, and it's going to be spectacular.
By two o'clock, I am in some pain. I am pale-faced and sweating, even to the point of Stephanie, the girl who sits opposite me, and who normally regards me as a mortal enemy, is concerned. She calls over Mr. Gay, who is concerned, but not concerned enough to send me home.
Scotty: Cap'n! The pressure is rising! Ah cannae keep a lid on it nae meer!
Kirk : You've got to, Scotty! We can't risk a catastrophic failure at the moment, we'd never live it down!
Scotty : But she'll blow, Cap'n, and we've only got shorts on!
Kirk : It's no good, we can't put our hand up and ask to go to the toilet. Martin Smith has already asked three times in the last hour, and has been refused.
Spock : Captain, logic suggests that the nylon underpants will have a considerable elasticity. Perhaps we can relieve some of the pressure by moving it further south, and, providing the leg elastic holds during a failure, it may be enough to prevent a disaster.
Kirk : Spock, you're a genius! Scotty, did you hear that? Release some of the pressure!
Scotty : (in a disapproving voice) Aye, Cap'n.
And so, I, in my innocence, release some of the pent-up energy in my stomach.
Some relief is had. The pressure is momentarily gone from my stomach.
It appears, more ominously, lower down.
I am not pleased by this.
Neither is Scotty.
Scotty: Cap'n! It's done nae good! We're inches from disaster! We're only postponing the inevitable! I'm going to blow the emergency valves!
Kirk : No, Scotty! We'd never live it down, just keep on transferring the pressure around the system!
It's no good. I have to release a little more. Pressure is now ominously building up in my bowels. I, in my innocence, do not understand. I do not raise my hand and ask to go to the toilet, for fear of upsetting Sir.
Meanwhile, in my fevered state, I notice four o' clock is approaching. Home time.
Spock : Pressure...Rising!
Kirk : Keep it up, Scotty!
Prayers are said, but they're nothing to what I'm praying internally. Next comes putting chairs on desks, which causes some discomfort, but we're over it. Good boy. Now all we have to do is walk home, and we're home safe and dry, and Mum will know what to do. That's it. Walk...nice...and...slowly...... Don't run!
Kirk : Ahead, nice and gently. Don't put too much stress on it.
Spock : Pressure still rising, Captain.
Kirk : Dammit, Spock, you said those underpants would hold!
Scotty : It's no good, Cap'n! The interlocks are gone! It's going to blow!
Over the crossing.... Talbot street in sight....!
My twitching little sphincter can no longer control the forces held back behind it, and I follow through. Massively. To an onlooker, my rear end must have bulged a bit like the head of the bloke in "Outland" who undergoes explosive decompression, before the leg-elastic of the nylon underpants experienced catastrophic failure.
There is a loud squelch, and what seem to be the massed byproducts of several effluent treatment centres cascade down my right leg.
There follows a split-second of utter, utter horror.
Some woman points at me in slow-motion, opens her mouth, and out come the words "Look at that boy with shit all down his leg."
Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, turned round and stared at me.
I did what anyone would have done in the circumstances.
I ran like hell.
I didn't stop until I was back home.
That night was taken up largely with a bath. A long, hot one, made all the longer by me knowing I would eventually have to show my face at school. My Mum was good about it. She let me have a couple of days off, so that the stink would have blown over.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.