Monday, 25 March 2013


The body is a wonderful thing. Rather like the age-old comparison with the apparent grace of the swan, there is so much activity beneath the surface that it would be fair to describe the human body as a battleground, one that will only be calmed when one side it vanquished for good. Sorry, but you know which side that is. As the phrase goes,
"Life is a sexually-transmitted disease with a 100% fatality rate."
Cheering, eh?

Let's steer things back to lighter matters.
Everybody likes a fart gag, don't they? Gaseous emissions have been a staple of comedy since time immemorial, but it's as much about timing as anything else.
Imagine a hall full of students taking their final exams. Despite hours or revision and weeks of preparation, it's turning out to be far harder than any of them had imagined. Half an hour in, and already, despair is setting in. The tension in the air is palpable. Then, from between clenched buttocks comes a noise, a sound like a cornet being blown to a tone of E flat. There's silence at first, then a muffled snigger. Soon, the whole room is full of students trying not to make any noise and failing dismally. However, the mood has been lifted and who knows - some of the students may have relaxed enough to improve their score.

"What you see might not be real" is a sculpture by Chinese artist Chen
Wenling. It's an unsubtle dig at the financial crisis. The bull represents
Wall Street, and the human is Bernard Madoff. He was convicted
and jailed for 150 years for being a Ponzi schemer.

Alternatively, let's pretend you are watching a sitcom. The main character works in an office. He's been stuck in a meeting for what has felt like the longest hour of his life. He has spent most of the meeting regretting the full English breakfast. It was tasty enough at the time, but it's given him some terrible gas. Finally, the meeting is over. He grabs his papers and dashes out for his own office. When he gets there, he bangs the door shut behind him, but doesn't notice that it has bounced open again. He leans his knuckles on his desk and carefully relaxes certain muscles. The resulting fart is loud, sonorous and meaty enough to be put into pies. Them, just as he sighs with relief, he hears the boss behind him, "I hope you feel much better for that." Oh bugger.

See? It can be humorous. Obviously, it can be taken too far. An entire programme of fart gags is a bit much (although Bottom seemed to get away with something very close to it for several series).

On the other hand, when you feel the need and you happen to be in public, it's really not done to simply let rip. In that case, one will surreptitiously glance about, making sure that the coast is clear. Only then will we allow ourselves to let something out. Hopefully, it will be as discreet as your attempt to clear the area.
Yeah, right.
Poor Julie, on this occasion, managed to create a passable impression of a foghorn. I was gasping for breath, I was laughing that hard, and Julie was laughing just as hard. Then, just as I felt I was beginning to calm down, Julie decided to justify herself.

And I was off again...