Farting in Public


4 April

I don’t know how it’s come about, but I’ve got into the habit of thinking about the Beckhams' bathroom every time I clean my teeth. I’m not generally a follower of the Beckhams, so I can only assume it’s because they have certain things in common with us (e.g. they are a British married couple) who at the same time are wildly dissimilar to us (young, beautiful, impossibly glamorous and staggeringly rich).

How do they perform the activities that everybody else has to do in their bathrooms? Do they have electric toothbrushes and forget to change the heads as often as they should? Do they have pump toothpaste containers and get dried toothpaste on the inside of the cap? Where do they keep their toothbrushes? Do they ever run out of toilet paper? Does David ever have to shout out to Victoria because he’s stuck with an empty cardboard tube? Does she tell him off for leaving the seat up and forgetting to rinse the basin out when he’s been cutting his nails or trimming his nostril hair?

I imagine their bathroom is a huge marbly sort of affair with flattering lighting and double basins so that they can perform their impossibly glamorous ablutions in tandem.

I don’t suppose their shower has a few areas that need re-grouting and some stains on the skirting board where Victoria has been a bit over-enthusiastic with her hair dye.

It’s a good way to make sure I spend long enough cleaning my teeth though, because every time I do it, I find something else to puzzle over and it’s a conundrum I’m never likely to know the answer to.

Unless, of course, I become best friends with Victoria and go and stay and run out of deodorant so that she has to invite me into her bathroom so that she can lend me hers…

It’s unlikely.

5 April

We have the Television Conversation with Harriet and Jonny. It’s the sort of conversation that everyone vows never to have with their children when they get older and always end up having anyway.

“You don’t know how lucky you are,” Mr Young tells them. “When we were young, there was nothing to do on a Sunday. Nothing. Shops were closed, there was nothing on television at all. Just Songs of Praise in the evening, which everybody watched even if they weren’t religious, then a drama, which everybody also watched, then television closed down and played the National Anthem. And the Forsythe Saga.”

“Wow!” they breathe, pretending to be interested in the old people’s conversation about the olden days.

“Yes,” Mr Young says, “And there were only three channels.”

“Wow!” they say again, still politely pretending to care about our under-privileged childhood.

They start edging for the door just as Mr Young is about to tell them how much a pint of beer and a packet of cigarettes used to cost…

Just like we used to do when our parents were having the Conversation with us.

6 April

I don’t think it’s strange that Mr Young is forbidden from saying certain words, although I am aware that others do. These words mostly end with ‘ibble’ – e.g. kibble, nibble, etc. Although Dobbies is also now on the verboten list (admittedly, this may be just because I don’t like garden centres).

For instance, if he was to go to Dobbies to buy kibble and then stop off for some nibbles on the way back, he would have to tell me he was going to the garden centre to buy dog food and then getting some corn-based snacks.

The reason for this is that I don’t like the shape and sound of these words as they come out of his mouth. Why, I have no idea. Nonetheless, it’s like hearing nails down a blackboard combined with a feeling of faint nausea. Therefore, it’s quite reasonable of me to impose this ban and he has come to accept this over the years.

For example, a new word will come up in the course of conversation, I will shake my head and give him a Look, and he will nod with acquiescence so that we both acknowledge that it is now on The List.

To be honest, I expect that every married couple has their own List. And I expect, by comparison, their Lists make mine look quite lenient.

I bet Victoria’s List for David is really long.

9 April

Mr Young has gone off on another sales trip. He calls to tell me that he’s forgotten his wallet.

“At least I hope I have,” he says, “otherwise it’s been stolen.”

I go and look and find it in his study. He’s very relieved. In a joint effort, we pay for his petrol remotely, using his credit card.

Mr Young calls me again later.

“I’m at the services, just stopped off for a break,” he says.

“Having a coffee?” I ask him.

“No,” he says. “I’m 2p short.”

I tell him to look under the seat. (I don’t know for sure that it’s there, obviously, it’s just that 2p coins are the sort of thing that can usually be found under car seats. Like five peas at the bottom of your freezer when you defrost it. And it is always exactly five.)

“Oh!” he says in surprise. “Yes, I’ve just found 2p!”

Don’t you just love it when you get the chance to feel both capable and superior? This must be how Joanna Lumley feels all the time.

I wonder what her bathroom’s like.

11 April

Mr Young is off yet again. He’s packing his suitcase.

“Shall I hide your wallet now for you, or do you want to forget it yourself?” I say.

“Oh, ha ha,” he says, but looks a little shame-faced.

Superior and funny. I’m like Joanna Lumley mixed in with Victoria Wood.

Another bathroom. I’ll save that one for a rainy day.

12 April

Mrs V stops by for coffee; her life is extremely busy and she rushes in and then rushes out again so that our conversation is held at speed which means I have to cram all my interesting news into a few minutes. Fortunately, this isn’t difficult.

“Ooh, got to go,” she says, looking at her watch, and hurries away again, leaving a Mrs V-shaped cloud of dust, a bit like Road Runner, only without the beep beep.

Mrs V always makes me feel like a sloth, and I don’t mean this in an entirely figurative way: according to Wikepedia, as much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth’s body-weight consists of the contents of its stomach and they have a very low metabolic rate. They move only when necessary and even then very slowly. This accounts for 75% of my lifestyle. Perhaps I was a sloth in a previous life.

It’s not all bad, though; apparently within their environment, they are outstandingly successful creatures. I would say that I’m pretty successful within my environment, and keep to the sloth creed by moving from bed to sofa with only a brief detour to the kitchen.

It’s a sort of survival of the unfittest, I guess.

13 April

Comedy night at the Solstice with Mr and Mrs L. All the tables are taken when we get there; Mr Young and Mr L go to the bar to buy drinks while Mrs L and I go soliciting for seating. Our efforts are unrewarded however, even though we are wearing our nice outfits and our appealing expressions (think labradors looking for extra kibble – I’m allowed to say it). There is a big empty table right by the door, but it’s reserved for someone called Ian Hays. Bloody Ian Hays, we mutter.

Just as we have given up and resigned ourselves to leaning against the wall for the evening, looking as if that’s what we were intending to do all along, being cool and insouciant (good word; note to self – use insouciant more often. Better still, be insouciant more often.).

Just as we have given up, a man comes over and says that Ian Hays is actually now sitting at his table, so we can sit there after all.

We forget about being insouciant and break into a run as we head towards Ian Hays’ table – ha!

No longer Ian Hays’ table, but our table – just in case anyone else has overheard. Triumphantly, Mrs L sits down and claims ownership.

But our mission isn’t complete; the doorman comes over.

“This is Ian Hays’ table,” he says, in a threatening way that is out of all proportion to the situation (a common trait of doormen everywhere, I’ve found over the years. They tend to take their responsibilities very seriously. An admirable but inappropriate work ethic.)

Mrs L explains what’s happened and gestures vaguely over to the other side of the room, to where we imagine Ian Hays is now sitting. The doorman doesn’t believe her, so she gestures again, with slightly more conviction.

The doorman looks over suspiciously. Fortunately, someone gets up and gestures back – clearly Ian Hays, the man himself -so the doorman nods reluctantly.

Mr Young and Mr L return with drinks, and in triumph, we explain the whole Ian Hays epic, but they get bored halfway through and start sipping their beer and doing that irritating nodding and hmmm-ing thing that men do when they think they can get away with when they’re not really listening to what you’re saying. Slightly unfair when we've achieved so much in such a short space of time, but that pretty much sums up inequality between the sexes in a nutshell, I feel.

In general, the comedians aren’t very funny; when they do say something quite funny, we laugh excessively, mostly out of relief.

To be honest, the funniest part of the evening is at the end, in the ladies’ toilet; while in my cubicle, I hear the lady in the next stall fart. It’s not a ladylike fart. It's impressively musical though, like an opera singer going through her warming-up exercises. It starts as a contralto, moves up to alto, warbles through a few soprano notes, before dipping down to a final burst at contralto level again. I laugh out loud. I come out of my cubicle still laughing, assuming that the waiting queue will be laughing along with me.

They’re not. I realise that my amusement has been interpreted as delight at my own flatulent prowess. I stop laughing immediately and wash my hands, then sidle past them. They give me a wide berth.

It’s going in my Top Forty Awkward Moments.

On the plus side, though, it will add a whole new dimension to my Beckham bathroom contemplations.

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