Mirth and Woe: Desperate Times
You may, after nearly six years of this rubbish, think that I might be running short of stocks of mirth and woe for these pages.
How wrong you are, for mirth, woe and projectile vomiting has a habit of seeking me out, no matter where I may be. I might - for example - be enjoying a leisurely sit down hoping for a few minutes' peace and quiet, and before I know it, I am shopping for new footwear in Weymouth's cut-price shoe stores.
This happens far more often that you realise, due to the ultimately corrosive nature of bottom emissions, and the Final Destination-like habit of bad karma catching up with me really, really quickly.
Last week, for example:
There I was, sitting in the third cubicle along in facilities provided by a well-known exhibition centre in our nation's fine capital, quietly going about my business, a copy of a popular TV listings magazine by my side that I might harrumph at the letters page before having a go at Clive Doig's Trackword puzzle.
Suddenly, I was dragged from my mid-afternoon reverie by the sound of a door slamming against the wall, the sound of the crowd coming from the conference rabble outside the cocoon of the gentlemens' wash room, and the running of feet.
By the time the door of the cubicle next to me crashed shut and the bolt thrown across, I was wide awake, cursing the manners of the new arrival. Poor show, to be honest, for I am not the only person trying to get some sleep around here, as the rustle of The Guardian's sports pages from several stalls down testifies.
Then there was silence.
No. Not quite silence.
There was the scrabbling of hands on clothing. The kind of grasping and fumbling of a man in a panic. A man who knows what he has to do, yet with the adrenaline flowing, is unable to control his very hands and fingers in an act he has done hundreds, thousands of times before in his lifetime.
The scrabbling becomes more and more frantic as - and of this I am certain - the turtle's head fully emerged from its shell. For as trousers finally hit the floor, it is abundantly clear that the poor, poor cur has left it far too late.
There was a pained cry of "Oh, God, NO!" before a hideous, foul-smelling explosion of nutty slack, most of which seemed to be heading under the partition in my direction on a tsunami of filth.
Quite a lot of nutty slack, as a matter of fact, and in the few seconds before my lucidity gave way to blind panic, I felt no little sympathy for the poor chap as he faced this calamitous anal eruption. This was, of course, before I realised that the real target of his bottom apocalypse was your humble narrator.
Having completely missed the target area, the air was rent with the smell of faeces, and I looked down with a great deal of dismay to see a quantity had settled on my genuine antique Ben Sherman boots, with a further tide heading my way.
I dread to think about what might happen next, for further explosions left me with no alternative but to flee for my life. And as I fled, like the legendary Orpheus from Hades, I found myself looking over my shoulder to see what dread creature followed.
And there, under the gap in the door were a pair of shoes, crumpled clothing and - well - use your imagination. If you dare.
And it spoke:
"I... I... oh... God...don't have the buffet."
Time, dear readers, to take my leave and give the finger buffet the widest of berths.
The following day:
"Do you do these boots in a size nine? Excellent."