I am often asked where is it I get inspiration for my stories from. Well actually that’s not true. No one yet has actually asked me this, maybe one day they will. In my imagination however it’s often one of the things Michael Parkinson asks me as I’m sat opposite him. He’s interviewing me about my epic JK Rowling like, global publishing success. We are having a lovely time chatting away and of course there have been several knee touches from both parties… oh Parky!
On a side note Michael Parkinson is one of my all time heroes. I truly love him. Not in a Tom Hardy clothes off, hall pass sort of way but in an ‘all above board’ and ‘clothes on’ way. I just think he is magnificent. I always wanted to be him, well a curly haired female version of him anyway. I loved the way he could extract stories out of his guests and his show was my favourite on TV growing up. Fun fact the music I chose for my podcast was as close to the Parky theme tune I could find without using the original and getting sued.
Right where were we? Ah my story ‘inspiration’ that’s right. Well this particular ditty came to me yesterday while I was sat in the car. No it wasn’t a traffic incident, or a song on that radio that set me off on my latest literary over-share, it was something that was sat on my passenger seat. Two, small, plastic things to be exact. A matching pair of stool sample jars. Try saying that sentence fast after a few vodkas!
Over the years I have given my fair share of samples, but all have been of the #1 not #2 variety. Having had a ‘funny tummy’ for the past few weeks I had gone to see my GP to see what it might be, I was also over spending a fortune on Buscapan & De Gas tablets too so it was time for action. It made my inner nine-year-old giggle when the doctor suggested I provide her with some stool samples and pulled out two small plastic containers that were brown. POO BROWN! And then my nine year old caught up to my adult self and realized the logic behind having a brown pot as opposed to the the transparent plastic option you are given for wee’s. Smart thinking Batman.
Back in my car looking at the sample jars I remembered an incident many years ago. Back in my early 20’s, fresh from University and working with a great gang in Stockport (the projectile vomiting work place fail for those that remember a previous post). One of my best mates at the time was Big Jo who I worked with. Now to clarify Big Jo was so named as two Jo’s had started at the company around the same. One was 6ft2 and one was 5ft5 – the office had renamed them Big and Little Jo, yep genius.
Big Jo and I, both single at the time had decided to go on a last minute holiday together. A week in sunny Portugal was booked. Sun tan lotion bought, this isn’t a household staple in the UK climate. The obligatory, annual bikini line trim was done so not to scare the locals on the beach with our Chewbacca bits poking out the side of our swim wear. Brits abroad here we go ladies!
Big Jo and I had recently seen the comic Eddie Izzard perform his latest stand up show and were those annoying people that would recite whole chunks of his routine for most of the trip. And using a phrase from Mr Izzard we had aptly re-named our newfound favorite restaurant in Portugal ‘Fishy Bobs’. They cooked good fish there so why not.
On the penultimate day before we flew home we’d had a cracking feed at ‘Fishy Bob’s’. It was well lush. Well it was until it decided to come back out of me with guns blazing. Both ends gushing like a fireman’s hose is never fun, but thank God for the Europeans and their love of a bedit. Never one to wash the back and front bottom in one it did however, come in very handy while the food poisoning struck, bottom end on the loo and top end bent over the bidet. A rough 12 hours ensued, but finally the vomiting ceased. What a relief. The relief was short lived though when I realised the spasms and back end gushing hadn’t finished.
Big Jo and I weren’t flash for cash and we couldn’t afford to miss our flight back home so I literally had to push through and get on the plane. Luckily we were seated close to the bathrooms. By this stage the spasms were coming in waves and were finally slowing down. Just as the seatbelt sign went on and the Captain informed the passengers we were about to start our descent into Manchester, a tsunami size wave hit me. Oh dear lord, no. Not now. The seat belt sign was screaming red and even the air hostesses were strapped in. The plane was literally minutes from touch down but so was something else and for the sake of my pride and the other passengers I had to try to get to the toilets.
I felt like I was going head-to-head in a Mexican stand off with the air-hostesses. How quickly could I undo the seatbelt and bolt to the toilet? Could I make it before she told me I couldn’t leave my seat? It was like that scene in The Body Guard where Kevin Costner stops the assassin and jumps in front of Whitney Houston and takes the bullet for her (I’m not sure who I am in this scenario to be honest, the assassin, Whitney or Kev). In slow motion I launch myself at the toilet as the two air-hosties try to stop me. I just made it – and with one hand I bolted the door as the other pulled my trousers down. Bingo, all out-coming traffic ends up in the toilet bowl and not on row 25 seat B.
I waited on the loo until I was sure the plane has emptied and came out to face the music. Apparently it is illegal to be in the loo when the plane lands and I fear I am about to get hit with a huge fine or lifelong ban but luckily I look so rough I’m allowed off the flight with just a minor telling off.
Once back in Manchester and still feeling awful I call the doctor. He tells me I need to go to the hospital immediately in case I’ve contracted some hideous foreign killer bug that is eating me from the inside (he may not have described exactly like that). He tells me I’ll get all my bloods tested and I will need to take a ‘sample’ with me to the hospital later that morning. Now my tiny studio apartment wasn’t very well stocked in the Tupperware department and when it came to containers I was very limited, but at this stage fearing I am about to die from some random bug-eating illness I make do. My boss and good friend Simon came to pick me up rather than me getting a taxi to the hospital. I felt like death. I had put the ‘sample’ in Simons car boot and off we went.
When I finally got to the Emergency Department I explained my story to the receptionist. I also told her I had brought my ‘sample’ as the doctor suggested. She asked me to fill out a form and give her the sample. So I did. She then proceeded to burst out laughing. Apparently I was the only person she had ever seen bring a stool sample in a casserole dish.
Fast forward to now and my two sample pots on my car seat. My girlfriend and I had an in depth chat that night over dinner about how best to collect the ‘sample’. It’s not like a #1 sample, easy to catch in a jar and not the end of the world if you get some on your hands. The same can’t be said about the #2’s. My other half came up with a genius suggestion – put glad wrap (Cling Film) over the bowl to collect the necessary bits. Luckily for me once I had the sample pots to fill my tummy miraculous got better and so they remain in the side of the passenger seat.
Twenty years later I really appreciate the medical design genius behind the brown plastic pots and only wish they had been around back when I needed them. I still really miss that casserole dish…