I’ll be honest- I’ve not gone for the glamorous option on this one. However, given that I’ve spent 92% of my adult life in this green and pleasant land, it would be utterly remiss of me to neglect it.
I established in one of my earlier posts that I was diagnosed as a teenager. If you’ve ever been interested in social anthropology you’ll know that being a teenager is, at times, an absolute bastard. I’m not going to lay out the additional relentless trials of having Colitis as a teenager, suffice to say they were many, and not a massive amount of fun. However, in Geography once, not long after my diagnosis, a mate and me were messing around, punching each other. I got punched in the stomach and shit myself a bit. I styled it out, no-one found out. I couldn’t be the lad who shit himself in Geography. I didn’t tell any of my mates what I was going through, and possibly didn’t give them enough credit that they would be able to deal with it in a adult way. But, they were schoolboys, how much credit can you give them? Schoolboys are absolute fucking idiots. You tell a schoolboy that you have Colitis and what that involves, and it’s like a magical gift to him. No matter how the message is communicated, he only hears that you have some kind of fantastic mania where you fizz with diarrhoea 24 hours a day. I didn’t go public. I do feel some shame in my cowardice but, in all honesty, would probably have still handled it the same way. Maybe lessons don’t always get learnt in such matters.
This attitude defined how I handled my disease in my youth. I was never visibly ill enough to have to justify it, or explain it, to anyone. It was hidden and I kept it that way. As well as my lack of confidence about how the information would be handled, I just didn’t want people to think of me as ill, or that I had something wrong with me. Months vacillating between hospital appointments being tested and questioned had seen to that, and when I emerged as reasonably healthy after a year or so, I just thought “I will never speak of this again, my life starts now”.
This attitude definitely got me in a few scrapes. It isn’t something you can hide indefinitely, especially when you’re knee-deep in the back-to-back jamborees that come with being in your late teens and early twenties.
I used to walk a lot as well. To people’s houses, pubs, town, clubs. Money saving exercise I suppose, walking home from a night on the piss meant you could buy 2 more drinks and stay out later. Piss economics. I remember walking home from a pub in a village about 5 miles from where I lived, after a lock-in. A proper provincial night-out. I’d spent all my money on the (shit) cider they had on tap and the juke box (which had some absolute bangers on it), so ostensibly the night was over. Just the matter of the 5 miles home. A friend of mine lived on the way, so she walked with me, which was logical and fine. It was logical and fine until, about 2 miles from home, I felt the familiar rush of pain burn through my abdomen, the resulting surge of adrenaline, and the entire universe combining to force every cell in my body out through my arse. I straightened up like a dozing schoolboy caught by his teacher, my body now a masterpiece of tension and opposing forces. My brain said “Keep those feet pointed inward, that will help”, so I had to adopt a weird, swivelling way of walking, keeping my legs straight. The bottom half of my body was operating completely independently of the top half, where I had adopted a classic mannequin arm position. My friend looked back to see that I had suddenly assumed the behavioural characteristics and facial expression of CP30.
My drop in pace had not gone unnoticed, and my friend asked me if I was OK. Fine, I said to her, the biggest fucking lie that anyone has ever told in history.
I had to make peace with the cosmos at this point. I had a gravitational force roughly equivalent to the Event Horizon operating in my arse, and I knew, in my heart, it was time to relent. I’ll catch you up, I said to my friend, I just need a piss. It’s fine, I’ll wait, she said. Fuck off, I thought, I need you to be about 3 miles away, but she had already found a tree stump about 10m down the road and sat there, half turned away, singing to herself. If I darted into the woods for a shit, as was my preference, she would have known, and I couldn’t accept that.
I was in an impossible situation that required an absolutely world-class solution. I assumed the classic pissing position, only shoulders and above visible to the world, but I let my drawers hit the floor and then, in defiance of nature, physics and the universe, did a poo standing up. If you were to ask Marco Van Basten to score from near the corner flag again, he couldn’t do it. Some acts of genius are unrepeatable, and un-coachable. There are no words in the English language to describe this utterly magical process, in the same way you can’t elucidate the genius in a Mark Rothko painting, or the thought processes of Einstein. That is the company in which this lives, in the highest echelon of human creative endeavor. I didn’t quite nail the landing however, and had to chuck my boxers in a bush when my friend had finally disappeared into their house.
This fairly agrarian approach was not uncommon on pissed journeys home, but thankfully, I had ensured I made most of these journeys alone from this point, ensuring I never had to repeat the staggering heroics of that night.