After dropping the kids off at school last Friday, I nipped to the Barbakan (brilliant Chorlton deli), to have a brew and a read of the paper.
As I got there, I noticed one of my friends standing outside, by his car. He appeared to be dawdling for no particular reason, so I strolled up, said hello and asked him what he was waiting round for.
“I’m just getting all my farts out before I go in, Charlie.”
It made me laugh out loud, primarily because of his candour but also because I thought I was the only person who made sure they were entirely vented of noxious gases before entering social situations.
Not always of course, but if I’m ever unlucky enough to combine the following two elements;
1. Social or work situation involving people who've no idea that you fart.
2. Recent meal including volatile ingredients.
then due consideration needs to be given.
With regards to the first element, for most of us, this is people outside of our immediate families or very close friends. Though having found farting to be an unending source of hilarity for my entire life, i’ve been made painfully aware that not everyone thinks this way.
Element two is often present, because I like to consume things that are known as, ‘gifts that keep on giving.’
I regularly find myself hanging around outside buildings, hovering delicately until I’m certain that I’m completely clear of any contraband. Outside is the farter’s friend, but living in a city means that, even there, timing is everything. My technique is to walk up and down a bit, get rid, then do a bit of a turn, sometimes 270 degrees is enough to sever all ties, but Guinness or curry can sometimes necessitate a complete 360.
This allows me to conduct whatever business I need to do in the building, without the growing fear of a pressure build up. It feels very wrong to subdue a burgeoning guff. I always feel that the horrible bubbling feeling it creates inside, distracts me from my meeting/interview and is probably wreaking unseen damage on my immune system.
I thought I was the only one, until that chance encounter outside a Chorlton deli, but now I know I’m in good company.
A teacher friend was telling me that, as head of a particular department, it’s very important that she keeps up appearances and maintains a strict social protocol of never dropping one in front of a class. Prone as she is to bouts of flatulence, this causes great discomfort. She bungs herself up for the duration of the lesson, suffering greatly. As soon as the kids leave and she has the door shut, she dives into the stockroom and deflates herself, dislodging ceiling tiles and turning the corners of books up. She says that a disgruntled caretaker has had to tighten up the hinges on the door three times in the last year and has modified one of the Chemistry lab signs to let her know he’s on to her.
It led me to thinking that, if I do it, my teacher mate does it and the chap who you don’t know outside the Barbakan does it, then everyone does it, to a greater or lesser degree.
It would be great if some of the social stigma was removed and we could engage in this practice quite freely, leaving people to nonchalantly hang back before a meeting and say,
“I’ll be with you in a minute, everyone. I’m just going to despatch this air biscuit, as it’s been baking for quite a while now.”
Had the subject been less taboo a couple of well documented ‘accidents’ in history, could have been avoided.
On June 26, 1963, when President Kennedy gave his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech on the steps of the Rathaus Schöneberg, his Secret Service men rushed him to the podium. Kennedy had been planning to expunge the byproducts of a bratwurst and Herforder Pils lunch, but missed his opportunity. The photographic evidence is clear. Whilst President Kennedy concentrates on the correct pronunciation of the word ‘Berliner,’ he loses control for a crucial second, leaving the man to his rear thinking.
“Jesus Christ, that one could start a windmill on an old Dutch painting.”
But perhaps the most famous example occurred thirty-five years earlier, at Heston Aerodrome, when Neville Chamberlain triumphantly returned from the Munich Pact meeting to declare, ‘Peace for our time.’ Once again, the urgency with which the Prime Minister was ushered from his plane to deliver the speech, was his undoing. He had planned to hang about near one of the wings and disperse a particularly volatile hooberstank, resulting from the Scotch Eggs and Theakston’s Old Peculiar which he’d shared with Hitler earlier. Once again, the photographic evidence is conclusive.
The fortunate people to the right of Chamberlain have avoided injury, whereas the ones on the left are clearly affected. A no-mans-land has been instantly created, with a courageous policeman attempting to help the man to his front, who was directly downwind during the speech. Chamberlain’s attempts to waft it away and avoid blame were later explained away by claiming he was waving the agreement.
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