Phil O'Shite

I'm in a meeting room in the Tokyo technical show, scanning on the machine and showing customers what features work on the bug-laden, pre-release software and … and I get this niggling sensation in the underpants region. Without me at first noticing, I'd been becoming a bit hyper and a bit anxious in my delivery and soon I find that I am speaking even more quickly than usual. The Russian Professor has no idea what I am talking about. The room is warm and I am sweating - my jacket is off but still my shirt is sticking to me. Uncomfortable. Pastiness, sense of unreality, sweaty forearms. BP falling, distended bladder and rectum compressing the iliac veins, decreasing the blood circulation and therefore the cardiac stroke volume. I need to go somewhere, to see a man about a dog. Not sure if it is merely a fart building up from this morning's cornflakes and prunes breakfast or something more… substantial, that is to say, something of substance. That Žižekian substance being of course, shit.

So at the first hiatus in questioning, I pass the crowd off to one of the other application specialists and duck out to the loo. Where IS it? I must get to the bottom of this. We are in the Roppongi Hills Academy (next to the Hyatt) and the company has gone overboard as usual in placing guides at every corner in the rabbit warren to show you the way to wherever you are headed - but only if you speak Japanese. Beautiful girls in white uniforms bow at me at each junction as I search the corridors, giving me continually the same greetings, pointing their hands in the direction I do not want to go or have just passed in my last fruitless circuit. They are not dressed like Motor show girls or anything, but are wearing smart (but tight) skirts suits with jackets and little hats. They have wonderful facial structure and skin and I would take any of them home in a heartbeat. Are they robotic, animatronic? This bowing and this repetition of the formulaic greeting is just a tad weird, has just a tad of that "Lost in Translation" inscrutable Asian feel to it. Also there is something of "THX-1138" - "Can you be more, specific?" - in those white uniforms and deftly symmetrical gestures.

OK, whatever, stop talking movies, fuck me dead... I need a toilet, urgent... I am looking for the signs...

Ah, here. In I go, find an empty stall and there is an electrically warmed arse-squirting toilet seat ready for me.

There's a joke I heard when I was about 5 - yeah, round about the time of that cute photo from the other day. I still remember it . One uncle of mine was telling some other uncles about the time that the Queen and Prince Philip visited Melbourne in the sixties. It can't have been too much later that he was telling the joke. The Royal parade was passing down Exhibition St (Russell St?), which was rather locally famous, or notorious, for its controversial pay-for-use Public Toilets - the only ones in the CBD and you have to bloody well pay - sited underground, the green-tiled entrance-steps not far from the intersection with Bourke St, if I recall. Women's on one side, Men's on the other. (Or were they on Bourke St itself? Or LaTrobe? Answers in a SSAE please.)

Suddenly, said my uncle keeping a straight-man's face, the Royal Carriage was seen to make an unscheduled halt at this intersection, and with the distinctive rattle of golden door handles, a tall man in a dress uniform rushed out and ducked down the stairs and into the public lav. A few minutes later he returned to the carriage and the parade resumed. Now my uncle, truth be told, knew a fellow who had entered the toilets at an immediately adjacent time to that of the man in the dress uniform and who, after paying extra for the privilege of using the private seating facilities, not the stainless steel horse-trough for the acceptance of the common-mans' urinary outflow, and purely by chance, was the exact subsequent occupier of that precise stall only just vacated by the man in the dress uniform whom of course was none other than himself, His Royal Husbandness, Philip Mountbatten (nee Battenburg). And my uncle's friend, as he carefully took his seat to perform his daily duty, claims that he saw, on the door of the toilet itself, recently written in a frustrated English hand, the following lines of doggerel:

Here I sit, broken-hearted
Paid my threepence* and only farted...

My other uncles all burst into profane Catholic laughter at the expense (making the joke funnier, though I didn't understand this at the time) of the Protestant English Royalty.

This schoolboys joke, which so amused my adult uncles, came to mind as I sat on the Japanese fancy toilet machine, as did several other thoughts…

Why is it, I pondered, why is it that someone who makes grand promises and never fulfills them, or who talks big but acts small, is said to be: "all hot air". Because it is the hot air of a fart.

The next train down that tunnel, we say after we let rip a ball-tearer, is going to be "the goods". Goods. Solid things. Substantial things. GOOD things.

Why is the person who fails to deliver what he maintained he would, said to be: "all piss and wind". Because he is "weak as water"? Because farts and urinations are not solid, not... substantial. Not of substance. Therefore, not GOOD.

Surely that means to be "a man of substance" is to be a man whom, when nature calls, is able directly to shit and then, presumably, to get off the pot? Substance, goods - "I did a GGOOOOOOOOODDDD SHIT!," claims Borat to his neighbouring table, as he returns to the restaurant dining room.

And YET! Oh, bitterly, yet! Why do we call a man fond of the blather and big talk that may be untruths and lies or exaggerations, "full of shit?" Why is that? Is that not a fundamental contradiction, an excretory paradox and a cloacal conundrum, all wrapped up in an cathartic enigma? Is it not good to be a man of substance, a man who "delivers the goods"? Is it GOOD or BAD to have shit inside you?

So, philosophically, I fart a resounding clapper, dribble some piss prostatically, pathetically, into the bowl, spray my arse-sphincter with warm water for about 20 minutes until it goes numb from the drilling, fart enormously once again, wipe and dry my nether regions with about thirty sheets of the double-leaf dunny-paper, wash my hands, dry them in a fancy and efficient air-drier, and head out to negotiate my way past the gesturing animatronic sex-toys to the scanning room again.

So, I ask myself, after that effort, have I proven myself to be all piss and wind? Am I still full of shit?

"приветствия,** Professor!" I say as I enter the scanning room.


*pronounced "thrippence". Another variation on the last line from school, where the toilets were free, is: "Ran all this way, and only farted."

** Greetings! in Russian, according to Babelfish.


Posted by: expat@large on Aug 11, 08 | 12:46 pm | Profile


The American version is better. "Came to shit, only farted." And not simply saying that because I'm American, but because it gives the ode an A-B-A-B rhyme scheme, much more sophisticated.

Posted by: spike on Aug 11, 08 | 1:04 pm

Well the subtext of the joke was based on HRH having to pay for privelege of taking a dump in Melbourne, so that would have been lost in your more pragmatic version.

Just read a paragraph Milton on blank verse yesterday. Too much rhyming is "vulgar" or something - I'll look it up tonight.

The famous blank verse limerick of Edward Lear:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, "Does it hurt?"
He replied, "No, it doesn't,
I'm so glad that it wasn't a Hornet.

Posted by: expat@large on Aug 11, 08 | 1:19 pm

Actually, even "ran all this way" is better than "came to shit." Came to shit - that's hardly funny at all, dude, check your sens-o-humour meter, the batteries might be failing...

Yeah, of course you came to shit, but to have had to *pay* for only a fart, or to have to run and make a desperate effort just in case you shat yourself... These versions are are much more evocative, more profound. The set-up is much higher, therefore the fall is further, and therefore the joke is funnier.

Hear everyone laughing? No?

Posted by: expat@large on Aug 11, 08 | 1:25 pm

This is why no one likes Australians. You even spelled "humor" wrong!

Posted by: spike on Aug 11, 08 | 1:51 pm

Everyone LOVES Australians! You know it deep in your heart...

Posted by: expat@large on Aug 11, 08 | 3:12 pm

Who does not like Australians?

Expat you need to train the muscles down there to detect subtle difference between gas pressure and a solid push. Albeit a reasonable fart needs to be taken away from trade show company. It's not good form to generate explosive potential in pleasant company. I am sure the the nation of rules that is Japan must have some type of published etiquette for what you should do when you fear you are going to generate a public bear's nose. In the modern global warming era they really should install some type of methane receptical in convenient locations. Apart from the wasted energy I read that the greenhouse profile of that gas is far more severe than C02. You should be aware of the currently dangerous balance the environment is holding in that part of the world. Too much curry in your diet could see the nation of Japan shrink further as the sea level rises. Luckily they have planned ahead and shrunk the population in anticipation of your damaging rectum...

Posted by: sino man on Aug 11, 08 | 7:18 pm

Don't ever touch Japanese curry, it's an Anglicized abomination.

Yes, the baroreceptors in the rectal wall do a fine job when the rectum is not too distended, but fail at a pinch with a big jobbie - also bad for differentiating fluid from gas - always err on the side of discretion if you've have a bad plate of blowfish liver (or a Japanese "curry")...

But as Beckett asks: "If it is only in the rectum, is it indeed True Love?" I'm listening to the audiobook of 'Molloy' while I'm in the gym - it cracks me up.

Posted by: expat@large on Aug 12, 08 | 12:37 am


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