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Putting the fart in fartlek

March 18, 2011

Where I work we’re lucky enough to have a gym in the basement. I try and go a couple of times a week, as it reduces my punchy urges and gives me a chance to sit at my desk with a tight, beaming face coloured the finest heart-attack red framed by damp, curling rat-tails of hair dripping on my keyboard. It’s what we in the trade call “a winning combination”.

Anyway, another unintended consequence of running is that my digestive tract seems to undergo some kind of dramatic transformation – some kind of increased transit speed, to adopt the popular nonscience parlance of probiotic yoghurt adverts. Let’s just say that the fan I face at the treadmill isn’t just for cooling me down while I run.

The other day I’d run, cooled down and showered, albeit struggling to hold it some recently dislodged gas. I’m not especially sqeamish about shit but draw the line at public farting. I like to see my position as a healthy middle ground, some way away from a couple I’m friends with who haven’t as much squeaked out a a microfart in the presence of each other in 7 years of coexisting. I think there’s a place for farts in the domestic setting, though. Sometimes it seems that the only things worth saying in a marriage come from an anus, and I don’t mean my husband.

Back to the underground batcave of the female changing room where I entered the sole toilet cubicle, knowing that a single wall separated my guts from a colleague changing next door. I didn’t want to needlessly create an awkward social situation by unleashing my own reserves of natural gas. So I had a wee, but, as is the way with these things (as expertly observed by Stewart Lee), once you relax one sphincter they all go. A tiny pocket of air made its bid for freedom. A silent bid, I hoped.

Suddenly the peace was shattered by a singularly proud and resonant arse quack. As if a large mallard had decided to break its week-long sponsored silence for Ducklings in Need sat alongside me in the solitary ladies’ facility in the gym of a modern, central London office building. I don’t even think it was a fart in the conventional sense, something more explosive, more dense. Oh god, even more wrong.

My eyes immediately scanned the modernist cubicle – is there anything here that could be responsible for that noise so that the woman next door won’t  think of me from this day on as “the farty gym girl”? Hand-dryer? Nope. Squeaky tap in the sink? No. Fancy cosmetics in a farty-sounding plastic tube? No. There was no way around it. I was a public farter.

As soon as the sonic boom of the arse quack had penetrated the changing room, the woman changing coughed loudly. Oh god, was she trying to mask any other noisy emissions there might be? Should I hide here and wait until she’s gone, or will remaining here longer make her think that the quack was just a jaunty overture to a much more fancy bum symphony on the way?

I had to go, and quick. I washed my hands, unlocked the door and steathily strode to the door. Once through, I galloped  towards the lift, hoping that she wouldn’t be passing en route to the gym at that point. Thankfully the lift arrived and I ascended from the scene of the crime, face a degree redder than usual, shedding duck feathers as I went.

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