The other day, the worst happened. Now, I don’t mean to sound all melodramatic, and I know I’ve started off a blogpost with that very same sentiment once before (in my defence, I *had* blocked the toilet at my boyfriends house; a house he shares with his family; a house I am obliged to repeatedly inhabit) but this time the shit well and truly hit the fan. Or, more specifically, the pavement.
It was unexpected. Aside from the gurgles of a mildly unappeased stomach in the morning, nothing seemed awry. I popped two Buscopan and off I went on my merry way. ‘My merry way’ happened to be London Fashion Week, accompanied by my main gal pal Gemma. I say ‘London Fashion Week’ but, truthfully, we attended one show and then roamed the streets of London in a bid to get ceremoniously sozzled; the early start, the excessive walking (finding a cheap and cheerful bar frequented by dapper chaps on a Saturday afternoon in London is no mean feat; it involves a hella lotta walking, a sprinkling of optimism and a shitload of delusion), and the sheer enormousness of my heels ensured that ‘sozzled’ wouldn’t be part of our vocabulary that day, but God loves a trier. We hit up Bills (a safe shout for anyone in search of some not-too-spenny Eggs Benny) before dragging our pleasantly full tums to a pub nearby, in which we skilfully attempted to navigate the age-old problem of overcrowded-bar-makes-it-impossible-get-a-drink-and-thus-get-quickly-and-adequately-pissed by ingeniously recording our drinks request on the phone and extending our selfie stick to its full potential, in the direction of the barman. My disdain for selfie sticks had been unwavering up until that very moment. Suffice to say that we were unsuccessful in our bid for inebriation, so off we trotted. We walked from Covent Garden to Oxford Circus, with a pit-stop at Victoria Beckham – y’know, to see how the other half shop (spoiler alert: the other half shop real well) but we swiftly opted out of the experience after noticing the incredulous amount of stairs in the place (by this point, the blisters on my feet resembled those detergent tablets you throw in the washing machine) – where we found ourselves having a cheeky chat with the only male we’d thus far managed to cajole into conversation: the VB security guard. Finally, we found ourselves at Sketch. Me, drinking the cheapest white wine on the menu. Gemma, drinking SoCo and Coke. Neither of us drunk. Both of us very tired. Me, smelly. Gemma, not so much. Me, Snap’ing some highly irrelevant Chat’ing. Gemma, still looking exceptional after a ten-hour day. We called it a night. We popped up to the Sketch poop pods (not their official name but they are pods and I’m sure peeps be a-pooping in ’em) and hopped on the Central Line. The nightmare began.
We’ve all had diarrhoea. We all have. It’s one of the most humbling realisations; if ever I’m feeling, well, shitty about myself, I just remember that Kim K has had diarrhoea. She is human, just as I am human. She has screamed bloody murder whilst perched on a porcelain throne, just as I have. Admittedly, Kim’s might not be porcelain and that derrierelectable rump of hers might require a slightly bigger throne than mine but THE FACT REMAINS: we all shit. Those of us with IBS just shit more, or maybe less, than your average Joelene. We either excrete very rarely (constipation, amirite?) or all too often (diarrhoea, amirite?), or we alternate between both of those debilitating inflictions. On the eve in question, the poo powers that be decided I would be receiving the D.
Not the same D I had been in pursuit of all day. But the D nonetheless.
My stomach started ‘going over’: you know, the feeling you get right before you excuse yourself from the dinner table and peg it, with the desperation of an antelope escaping a lion, towards the toilet. I tried suppressing it. I thought about how little time it would take me to get home. I reminded myself how wonderful it would be when I finally reached my own porcelain perch. I thought of the wave of relief that would wash over me, having successfully outrun that dastardly lion. I thought of nothing but reaching safe territory. Turns out, the mind is not as strong as the bowel. I broke out in a sweat. My mind was dizzying from the desperate need to excrement. My heart was racing. Gemma had got off a few stops back, unaware of the internal conflict at war within me, and now I was surrounded by strangers: “Could I poo myself on this train? Could I really let that happen? I mean, I could let it happen, quite easily, right now; but could I *let* it happen? What would these people say? What would they DO?! What would *I* DO?! Would I just cry as it happened, ensuring my fellow commuters knew that I wasn’t just wilfully and casually shitting up a storm on the seat? Would I gather it up like someone cleaning up after their dog? What the fuck would I say to the station staff? Do those seats actually get cleaned?! Will I spend the rest of my days eyeing up the red and blue pads, wondering which one shared my dirty secret? Wondering if that funky smell on the carriage belonged to my diarrhetic disaster, ingrained into the stubby fibres of these rarely upholstered cushions? WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?!” I hopped off the train, mere miles away from my home station. I ran about the place, desperately searching for a toilet. I found one. It was locked. I started crying. It was going to happen. I wasn’t at home. There was no toilet. And it was going to happen. It could happen right here, on this incredibly well lit platform, still bustling with people. Or it could happen in the cover of darkness. I went towards the darkness. I ran out of the station. Blister after blister popping like pierced balloons. I cried. I found a safe spot. It happened. I cried some more. I deployed the second wardrobe I regularly carry in my handbag. I utilised a pair of socks in a way I can’t even begin to type (I had no tissue on me, you see…). I squatted and I sobbed. I cursed my terrible bowels and their inability to function normally. I cursed the Central Line and its annoying habit of staying stationary for far too long. I cursed the locked toilet and the packed carriage and the non-existence of easy-wipe train seats. I composed myself. I gathered my *ahem* belongings. I looked around. Not a soul in sight. Thank fuck for that.
I looked up.
There was a security camera.
It was pointed right at me.