I’m very proud to announce I won the category of Best Writing on a Blog at The Blog North Awards 2014. I’d like to thank everyone who voted, and also thanks to the organisers of such a great event.
Here’s a mucky story as a thank you.
Don’t talk to me about coffee.
Since when did we get so excited about a beverage? I’ll tell you when. Starbuck’s, that’s when. That omnipresent chain of glop dealing shit pumps skittered onto the high street and we all went mad, falling over ourselves to get a hot drink topped with sugary sneeze in a big cardboard cup so we could swagger around, looking all American.
Because that’s what it’s all about. Looking American. We stopped drinking tea and saying ‘please’ and we started drinking coffee and saying ‘can I get’.
If this is you, then hang your head in shame.
When I was a kid we were all enamoured with America. It’s films, it’s accent, the sweets. Back then, though, we couldn’t get our hands on America’s stuff. You saw it on telly or at the local ABC Cinema, you drooled, but you went home hungry. Since they started shipping the stuff over here I’ve gone right off it. It makes us fat. It’s shit.
Of course, Starbuck’s is below the coffee connoisseur these days. It’s become the McDonald’s of the coffee world. The dog’s bollocks one day, a handy place to take a town center dump the next. All the burger boys moved onto Byron’s, Home Made Burger Kitchen and the like – all the coffee heads are knocking back the black stuff at some niche place I’ve never heard of or are grinding their own beans, both figuratively and literally.
But having a go at people for drinking coffee is like taking piss out of crack addicts. Once you go down the coffee route it is bloody hard to go back. Watching the office Java fiend going cold turkey is an ugly thing to witness. There should be a Betty Ford Clinic sponsored by those high street caffeine dealers to wean the poor suckers off their daily fix of triple venti half sweet non-fat caramel macchiato.
But I’m not preaching from an innocent stand point here. As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m a sinner. I have sinned, and one of my many sins involved Turkish coffee and a girl called Cindy.
Now, Cindy was out of my league. Let’s just get that straight from the start. If it hadn’t been for the fact I lived in a shared house with her sister I don’t reckon she’d have given me the time of day.
One time she came up from Oxford for the weekend. We all went out drinking in town, I got talking to her, made her laugh, so she invited me down to stay with her at her parents place in a few weeks time.
I got the National Express to London then another one to Oxford. A long day in a tin can with some strange smells and even stranger conversations, but I convinced myself that Cindy was worth it. I wasn’t in love with her but I was definite in lust.
She picked me up from the station in her car, we had a little air kiss on both cheeks, the first time I’d ever done that and It weirded me out a bit. Was that an Americanism? A Europeanism? I didn’t know, but I was absolutely certain that air kissing did not play a great part in every day life in the North.
I’ll tell you who she looked like. Ali McGraw. Google her. Back in the seventies Ali McGraw was knockout, and Cindy was knockout too. I felt like a pretty lucky bloke buzzing through the fields of Oxfordshire in a car with Ali McGraw.
We dropped off my bags at her parents place, a huge pile in impressive grounds. There was more air kissing, but I was getting the hang of all that shit by then. Nothing if not adaptable, that’s me. And you know what? Her parents liked me. I’m sure of it. Warm and welcoming, the dad didn’t threaten me once, which was a novelty for me as far as girlfriends parents were concerned.
We hopped on a bus and hit town.
There we were, the young lovebirds, scampering happily amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford, and fuck me if we weren’t holding hands!
It was going well. Very well.
Cindy suggested we stop for coffee. Stopping for coffee was also something that did not play a great part in every day life in the North, but I went with it. What with the air kissing, the multicultural air of Oxford’s student population and the fact I was strolling with an Ali Mcgraw look-a-like, I can honestly say I had never felt more cosmopolitan.
We went into a swish little coffee shop. She ordered something I’d never heard of so I ordered the only coffee with the word ‘coffee’ in the title.
Hers came and it was big and frothy. Mine came and it was tiny and black.
I sipped the coffee. It tasted pretty damn good. We talked and talked, and pretty soon my coffee was gone so I ordered another and that one was pretty damn good too.
I found myself talking quite quickly.
We left the coffee shop and wandered the streets, looking in the windows, holding hands, but I started to feel pretty weird.
Time seemed to speed up. Everything was on fast forward. Passers by left tracers.
I used to do a bit of speed back then, just a recreational dabble, you understand, and at first I thought my coffee had been spiked. The I realised it was the coffee itself.
I was coming up.
I was off my tits on a monster coffee high.
My heart rate was in overdrive and I couldn’t stop grinning.
She said I was holding her hand too hard so I let it go.
I wanted to run, dance, jump up and down, anything to burn of this rushing energy that coursed through my veins.
The thick, syrupy coffee percolated through my system, dramatically reacting with each of my organs in turn.
And then the coffee hit my bowel.
We were looking in a silversmiths window, admiring a particularly fine bracelet, and I was wondering if I could afford it, when I felt something shift. There was a deep, deep groan, a groan from far underground, a sound of shifting iron and rocks, of elements that had rested in the dark, not moving for countless aeons.
Cindy said, “My God, what was that? I felt the ground move!”
Sweat beaded my brow. “It felt like an earthquake,” I muttered through clenched teeth.
Another low rumble followed. I let out a whimper.
She said, “There it is again! I didn’t think you got earthquakes in Oxford!”
“You can get them anywhere,” I replied in a strained voice. “When you least expect it.”
I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of terrible urgency.
“Er… you fancy a drink?”
She checked her watch. “Oh, but it’s not even one o’clock!”
“Hey, it’s never too early for a beer!” I said.
I laughed hysterically.
Then I shat myself.
My pants blew up like a balloon, rapidly filling with heavily fermented horror.
I didn’t have much time, seconds, not minutes.
I grabbed Cindy and hauled her into the nearest pub. I threw money at her.
“Mine’s a pint, back in a jiffy.”
I waddled into the toilets.
The clock was ticking.
Cubicle locked, boots off, socks off, jeans off, t-shirt off, shit-filled-pants-that-weighed-the-same-as-a-bowling-ball-in-a-tea-towel off.
Fifty seconds in and I was already naked in a pub toilet, covered in shit.
I carefully rested the brimming pants on the floor behind the toilet. I flushed the toilet. The water ran clear.
Right. I knew what I had to do.
I lowered my arse into the bowl, right in, till my balls touched the water.
Then I reached back and flushed.
I gasped as cold water rushed into the bowl, splashing up my back. I plunged my hand in and furiously washed my arse and bollocks in the gushing water.
My friends, I had invented the ‘dirty bidet’.
Two minutes had passed.
I hauled myself out of the toilet. I grabbed my socks, pulled them over my hands and vigorously rubbed myself dry.
I picked up the heavy, leaking pants and tipped the contents into the bowl. Flushed. I couldn’t risk a blockage so I slung the soggy socks and shitty pants into the cistern.
T-shirt on, jeans on, boots on, cubicle unlocked. To the sink, washed hands vigorously.
Three minutes, dead on.
Mission Incontinent was complete.
I left the toilet as nonchalantly as possible.
Cindy sat at a table, sipping an orange juice and nibbling a Mini Cheddar. She looked a bit worried.
“Everything alright?” She asked.
“Champion.” I replied, necking my pint.
The rest of the day went fine.
That evening we ate with her parents and I was charm personified. The shit-filled horror of six hours previously was a distant memory and I was on fire. A couple of glasses of wine, a great meal, pudding. All grand.
Her father said, “Here’s your coffee, Luci.”
And there it was. Filtered, high quality coffee. Strong, black, silent, deadly.
I had convinced myself it had just been a glitch, a momentary digestive mishap.
So I drank the coffee like a hero.
Ten minutes later…
“There it is again! Honestly, mum, Luci and I felt an earthquake just like that this afternoon, didn’t we?”
“No, darling, I’m sure it was thunder… are you alright, Lucifer?”
“Sorry, I need to use the facilities…”
Door locked, I shuffled urgently bogwards.
I got sat down just in time.
Ever seen a Saturn 5 rocket taking off?
It was like that.
A vast, deafening roar, a gut trembling boom that felt like it would last forever. My vision blurred with the power as several gallons of fizzing bum gravy ejected from my tattered afterburner with a force that lifted me physically from the pot, material that had been ingested decades ago now spewed forth with terrible force until it slowly petered out to a weak squitting and wheezing noise coming from down below, but I became aware of another noise, a terrible howling, and I realised that noise was coming from my mouth.
I clamped a hand over my mouth. Had Cindy and her parents heard? I didn’t know.
I started the clean up.
I wiped and wiped but each wipe came back shitty. I thought I’d done myself permanent mischief.
I flushed the bog and started again. Wipe wipe wipe… all dirty.
But wait, what was that?
I felt something hanging from my arse.
Oh God, what had I done?
I thought I’d shat myself inside out. I thought I’d have to shuffle to the door and call down to my hosts to phone an ambulance as I’d shat a kidney into their Armitage Shanks. I was in quite a panic.
I gingerly poked around my battered bum hole with a bit of tissue, found the offending dangler, and carefully pulled.
Oh fucking Hell.
Something moved inside me, way up in my gut.
I moaned in horror.
A tapeworm. I was shitting out a tapeworm in the bathroom of the parents of a girl I’d dearly like to have fucked.
Sex, of course, was no longer on my mind. Passing a meter long parasite from your anus is a bit of turn off.
I clenched my eyes and pulled.
I felt the hideous slithering from deep inside me, the long, tough body pulling through my guts and out of my arse.
I didn’t do this in silence, although I tried. I was nearly crying, moaning out all kinds of obscenities.
And then it was out.
I opened my eyes and peered with horror into the wadded toilet roll, and couldn’t believe what I was looking at.
It was a long strip of onion, nearly a foot long.
What the fuck was a massive bit of onion doing up my arse? And, while we’re at it, since when did onions get that big? Had I forgotten about eating an award winning onion or something? I honestly couldn’t answer these questions, but the evidence was there, plain as day.
I had been infested by an onion.
I slung it into the toilet and flushed.
Flush number two.
I was aware that, no matter how polite the company, you count the toilet flushes of a guest.
One is acceptable, two is grim.
I looked into the bog. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Shit spattered, wadded tissue bobbed like an evil jellyfish, and a foot long onion tendril slithered around the whole mess like it lived there.
I had no choice. I flushed again.
I’d gone bust.
There was no coming back after a three-flush bog visit.
As the water flushed I worked like a demon with the bog brush.
It worked. The loo looked passable, just.
But then I noticed the onion wrapped around the bristles.
I’d had enough. I peeled the undigested horror from the bristles and lobbed it into the bog bowl.
I almost sobbed.
The onion would not go away. There was nowhere to hide it.
The cistern. The old friend of many an adventure, the toilet cistern. I lifted the lid, fished out the onion, and lobbed it in.
I knew it would resurface at some point and serious questions would be asked, but I knew I’d be long gone.
I washed my hands like an obsessive compulsive, took several deep breaths, and rejoined my hosts.
The room was silent.
They sat at the table, looking at their laps, their faces scarred with embarrassment and horror. They’d heard everything, counted the flushes, listened as I moaned and sobbed in a locked bathroom.
The silence stretched on.
I could hear a clock ticking.
I sat down, poured a massive glass of wine, and held it aloft.
I said, “Cheers, everyone.” and necked the lot.
So don’t talk to me about coffee.
And you can keep your massive onions too, for that matter.