But first one of my own warnings. I’m going to be writing about bowel habits. If the idea of defaecation is one that offends you, and I’ve no idea why it should, since we all do it, then stop now and go and browse for a blog about kittens or something less contentious.
The UK government has a bit of a bee in its bonnet at the moment. Tune into any local radio station these days, and the ad breaks will feature advisory ads about changes in bowel habits being a possible indicator of bowel cancer. I am not making fun of cancer, believe me. It’s nothing to joke about. It’s serious. The ads however are very funny indeed.
They take the form of imaginary patient comments during a consultation with the doctor. If you have an idle couple of moments, as I do, it’s fun to imagine what the doctor’s response might be.
V/O ‘It’s my poo, doctor…’
Doctor: Poo? Poo? How old are you? Don’t be so bloody mealy-mouthed. Are you talking about shit? Crap? Turds? Or go posh, say stools. Or try to impress me, and say faeces. But don’t come in here talking like a three year old. Where’s your dignity? Jesus.
V/O ‘They’re a bit runny…’
Doctor: Runny? What are we talking here? Semolina pudding? Boiling mud and fuse wire? Rusty water? C’mon, help me out here.
V/O ‘A bit loose..’
Doctor: So avoid that particular kebab shop next time. And lay off the Guinness.
V/O ‘it’s only a bit of blood..’
Doctor: Now you’ve got my full attention.
Honestly. As I say, bowel cancer is not good news, but a few days of irregularity, or regularity in the sense of every five minutes, is more likely to be the result of an ill-judged post-pub prawn fahl than bowel cancer.
Then the clincher, if i can use that word in this context.
Announcer V/O ‘It may be nothing, but get it checked out’
Yeah, the doctor and his tame path lab are going to love being inundated in stool samples, aren’t they?
The Department of Health’s rather prurient interest in the world falling out of the nation’s bottom goes further, I’m sad and disturbed to relate. I had to go to see my quack the other day on a totally non-faeces related matter. I hate the waiting room, it’s full of sick people. You never know what’s wrong with them do you? That hacking cough? Forty a day, or has he got buboes in his armpits? That strangely orange woman with the yellow eyes? Too much carrot juice, or a new and spectacularly infectious form of hepatitis? You never know.
To take my mind off these morbid thoughts, I often read the leaflets that bestrew the place. These are an absolute hoot. If you followed all the advice in them, you stay safely in bed most of the day, eating organic celery and drinking distilled water, only rising to change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
The Department of Health has, in its wisdom, released a guidance leaflet on how to go for a crap, and no, I am not making that up. Now, I’ve been going to the toilet for many years, and I figured I had it pretty well nailed, but in the interests of science and gathering new information, I had a peruse.
‘Sit in a comfortable position.’
Hellfire, you mean not everybody stands on the seat and braces themselves against the medicine cabinet? Wow, just how wrong could I have been all my life?
‘Lean forward with your elbows on your knees.’
Oh come on, be reasonable, how else can I hold the newspaper comfortably?
‘Do not strain.’ (Again I am not making this up.)
What? I’ve been on a very naughty zero fibre diet the past three days, and I’m trying to extrude something the size and shape of a Coke can. I’m going to have to put a bit of effort in, surely?