Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Lesser Spotted Tommy Two Shits

You may not think you know a Tommy Two Shits. It’s a military expression, but it describes a person that we all have experience of.

A Tommy Two Shits is the person that you know, that has to go one better than everyone else. ‘Two Shitting’ in the army was commonplace which is why they came up with a name to describe the practice. In simple terms, if you’ve had a shit, he’s had two.

If you’ve been to Tenerife, he’s been to the Barrier Reef.

I always enjoyed being around them, because the conversations were never dull and generally took place when everyone had returned from leave. Some exponents of the art were fairly discreet, opting to go for slight one-upmanship, usually with claims of sexual conquest and always involving pantomime levels of rhythmic, pelvic movements to aid the description.

The most cherished of the Two Shitters were actively encouraged to attain new levels of outlandish bullshittery. Everyone loved to hear how far they’d go. To plant the seed, someone would relate an obviously fabricated anecdote and we’d all watch as the Tommy Two Shits absorbed the story, then multiplied it’s components before coming out with his. One lad I knew had a particular penchant for pretending to have met Hollywood A-listers in the most unlikely of scenarios. We’d all sit there open mouthed whilst he’d casually mention that he’d bumped into Dustin Hoffman outside the Rumbelows in Darwen, then had a few pints with him.

He’d then stop, to see how the story was being received and find us all nodding sagely whilst trying not to fall about laughing. Emboldened, he’d then go on to tell us that he’d told Dustin he was shit in Marathon Man and that Dustin had took the criticism on the chin allowing our Tommy to give him tips on playing the, ‘Is it safe?’ scene correctly.

I always marvelled at the levels of self delusion on display, which allowed the narration of these tall tales to be told with a completely straight face.

I don’t know why I assumed it was a strictly military phenomenon, but I’ve met more than my fair share of Two Shitters in the sixteen years that have passed since I left the Army.

It’s important to make a distinction here. Someone who embellishes a story for comic effect whilst under the influence of alcohol is not a Tommy Two Shits, nor is the person who utilises l'esprit de l'escalier. This is when the right comeback line to an insult or slight occurs to you five minutes after the incident, but you remove the time lag when telling the story. Traffic wardens and unhelpful retail employees figure strongly in these situations.

No, the Two Shitter is a different being. A tell tale sign is their use of the interruptive phrase,

“That’s nothing, that is,” before they recount a yarn of startling implausibility, whilst maintaining an expression of perfect sincerity throughout. I’ve noticed that every pub and workplace has one. Perhaps it’s an unofficial duty and they have to do a little course, like the first aiders and fire wardens. I can just imagine the final test, with the instructor doing a bit of one on one.

“Right Tommy, I’m going to tell you a short story and I’d like you to repeat it, after you’ve processed it through your garnishing filter.”


“Whilst on a recent weekend break in St Ives, I took the opportunity of going on one of the little boats round the harbour. It was very pleasant, but I must confess to feeling a bit queasy towards the end. On the same evening, I went to the cinema and enjoyed the film ‘Contagion’, though a fire alarm midway through, spoilt things a bit.”

A couple of deep breaths and a little bit of shadow boxing precede the response.

“Whilst spending the summer in St Moritz, I chartered Roman Abramovich’s yacht. I decided to take it for a spin round the Cape of Good Hope, but encountered a Force 9 gale which forced me ashore at Rabat. That evening, I bumped into Matt Damon at the Post Office, who insisted that I join him and his party for a gala dinner in my honour.”

“Very good, very good. You could have made it a hurricane and you’ve neglected to embroider the fire alarm, but good on the whole. Here’s your badge. You’re now qualified to corner people in the brew room or near the fruit machine and terrorise them with your narrative enhancements.”

1 comment:

  1. That's nothing that is Charlie!
    I actually got 2 shitted for shitting once:
    I had two decidedly good poo's one morning and informed a friend of such "that's nothing" he informed me "i've had four shits this morning" he's an ex squaddie