Monday, July 6, 2009
Things like this don't happen when you've got a colostomy bag
You can always spot someone with ulcerative colitis in a shopping centre. We’re the ones who don’t look entirely at ease. We’re the ones constantly scouring our surroundings for toilet directions. That’s us with the twitchy, squinty eyes. We may say we’re just looking to see what floor HMV is on, but don’t be fooled, we know what floor HMV is on. What we want to know is what direction to run in if we have to. No sooner have we passed a direction sign for the toilets than our eyes start darting about looking for the next. We are nervous rabbits and the toilets are our burrows. We don’t like to stray too far or we become jittery. The reassurance of well signposted toilets is appreciated. We like arrows that point us in exactly the right direction. When we’re on the verge of crapping ourselves outside WHSmith on a Saturday morning we need simple, clear instructions. We don’t want to be left in any doubt as to where the precise location of the loos are. We don’t like signs that are open to interpretation. The worst direction signs are the ones where the arrow points diagonally up to the left or the right. What does that mean? Veer to the left? Up the escalators? Up the escalators and veer left? Come on, what does it mean? Time is running out. We may have to plump for the escalators. It’s a guess. But what else do we have to go on? So we start running. We’re tearing off in the direction of the escalators. Whoever we came shopping with is now wandering around Topshop talking to themselves. We’ve gone. How slow are escalators? They go the minimum speed required to legally qualify as moving stairs. A fraction slower and they’d just be metal stairs. We’re bounding up the metal stairs two steps at a time, fully prepared to shit ourselves before we reach the top. And then up ahead we see the obligatory old lady preparing to get off the escalator. She’s spreading her legs wide for balance and bending her knees, shopping tucked high under her armpits, she does a few practice semi-squats. You’d think she was readying herself to do a sky dive, rather than step off an escalator not moving in excess of 0.2mph. Just step off woman! Step off! We’re pooing our pants back here. Too late, we push her square in the back and trample her into a 1981 Charles and Di memorial floor tile. Breathing heavily we think. Think. Think. Veer left the sign said. There are some double doors. Brilliant. We sprint off, already unzipping and unbuckling things. We crash through the doors – no toilet – we’re in the car park. Shit. Things are going to get messy if we don’t find somewhere soon. Then we see it, rising head and shoulders above all the other cars. It’s a big 4x4. A big 4x4 that could just give us the cover we need. It’s the best plan we’ve got, so we position ourselves behind the 4x4 and squat, one hand on the wheel arch to steady us. As soon as our legs bend it acts like a trigger and spewwwwwwweuggghhhhh. Oh, that does feel good. Phutttphutttphuttt. It’s surprising how echoey these car parks are. We start to feel a little better though. Well, as good as it’s possible to feel for someone having a dump behind a 4x4 in a shopping centre car park. And we’ve got our Handy Andy’s in our coat pocket. Looks like it’s all worked out in the end. We may have got away with it. Then we hear the beep-beep-clunk of the remote central locking and the lights on the 4x4 flash on and off. Oh no. Shit. We haven’t got time to finish. We hear footsteps approaching. And children’s voices. Slowly and silently we bring our coat hood up over our head and remove our supporting hand from the 4x4. Hugging our knees and rocking gently we await the screams.