I went home last weekend, to catch up with the folks. My dad is the reason I still laugh at farts, shit, piss and “all that”. Well, my mum has her part in it, too – if she hadn’t tutted and rolled her eyes, my dad wouldn’t have lifted his leg, done a meaty fart and winked at me and my brother in an attempt to make us love him the best.
I was brought up in a pub, and in the first years of coin-ops, they were embraced by nearly everyone. I was four years old, and I’d have to wait for middle-aged fucking men for a go on the Space Invaders. Meeting up with my family usually involves trotting out all the old competivity; how I’d get out of bed, steal money from the till to play Space Invaders at three in the morning, how mum was best at Pac-Man, dad was best at Missile Command, and how I became the compulsive king of Robotron 2084 after one of the mischeivous elderly pub customers lied to me that there was a “last level” where you fought Robot Ron. My revenge has been to outlive him.
Anyway, the point was this; between our usual conversations about who was the best at Vanguard, Scramble and Zaxxon (me), a story I’d very nearly forgotten cropped up, and it had nothing to do with videogames at all. It was this.
SUMMER, 2000: THE BUNKERS HILL INN
A few years back, I ran a real ale pub with my dad. My dad, for all his faults, is a great landlord – he keeps good beer, clean floors, and has pegged up enough years of keeping an orderly house to get to earn the respect of most punters. He also lets staff have a drink. Tight as a rubberised heron’s arsehole with the heating, but the drinks flew around like Japanese hornets.
This led to a growing Baileys/Brandy habit for me, and an inability to walk past a row of optics without playing them like an upturned organ. We’re a family of drinkers, so I reckon watching me slump around the bar pouring myself drinks – in the belief that if I had my back to everyone, they wouldn’t know what I was doing – must have made the old man puff out his chest and boast “that’s my lad”.
By now, you’re probably imagining that I’m going to get drunk, go into the cellar, fall asleep and shit myself in the Carling. But I didn’t, so there.
The Friday it happened, I certainly felt like I was going to shit myself, but it never got to the panicky last phase of the brown angel’s kiss. The only outward sign of urgency, as I struggled to effortlessly breeze into the bar, was that I cantered like a fat horse into the disabled toilets, rather than going upstairs.
Now, our pub didn’t have a soil pipe running from the downstairs toilet, so there was a Saniflo macerator pump to mash up the stools and pipe them gently into the sinkwater. In brief, there was a machine that mashed my already-wet shit into a filthy cordial.
I’m not sure about the maintenance arrangements with these things. We’d had it about two years. That sounds like maybe we should have had a routine inspection, but like I said – my dad’s generous in many ways, but when it comes to paying through the nose for a so-called prefessional to check, say, the connection of a rubber tube from a macerator pump to the disposal pipe – that just wouldn’t be a priority.
You’re probably imagining how it happened a bit more accurately, now. You’re probably imagining that I flushed the toilet, the rubber pipe disconnected, and the pump flung my own hangover shits directly into my face.
I first heard my dad screaming when I was preparing the upstairs bar for the night, and ran downstairs to find a confused-looking minstrel waving his hands around in disgust. It turns out that seconds after I’d shut the toilet door behind me, the pipe had disconnected, leaving my dad to investigate the strange sounds coming from the disabled loo. He walked into a Burroughsian, Geigeresque vision of a flapping brown tube whipping itself to death around the shit-covered cubicle, just in time for the last, drying coughs to sputter over his clothes. I’d be doing the man a disservice if I didn’t mention that he’d taken a good amount in the face, too.
It was a long time ago, so I can’t remember how hard I laughed. But it was fucking hard, and once my dad had rinsed his face, he laughed too. Then went home to change his clothes.
This left me to deal with the start of a busy Friday afternoon on my own. And when everyone asked where my dad was, I’d laugh. Because we both worked there every Friday lunch, everyone asked, and by the time he’d got back, I was crying with joy. After letting him know that none of the regulars knew what had happened, I retired to the cellar for five minutes to collect myself. Collecting myself involved hugging a barrel and giving thanks to Jesus.
If you’ve never shit all over your dad, I thoroughly recommend it.
If you’ve got any similar stories of shitting yourself, let me know – I’m looking to ressurect Tales of the Smear. It’s been far, too, long.