One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
14 September 2000
Constipation. As opening words to an article go, not the most promising of overtures, but one that seems particularly pertinent at the present time, when I appear to be having trouble forcing out anything of note. Two hours sat in one small, enclosed space with nothing to show for it but the threat of piles.
Lucky for me then, that it's only the verbal, metaphorical affliction I'm dealing with. If I was a professional, this would go down as a celebrated moment of writer's block; as it is, my condition won't go far beyond this screen. Perhaps if you'd join me in a journey through my literary bowels we could help a little something through my colon.
The problem starts when you find out there is a deadline for producing something, a fact of which about six other people are aware. Expectation mounts; interest swells; productivity seizes up. Imagine the worst stage fright of your life at a urinal, only expand it to several exceedingly well-hung, threatening men surrounding you and scrutinising your every contraction, making disparaging remarks about girth and length. [Ladies, I'm afraid I can think of no equivalent - perhaps someone refusing to pass you some paper under the door.]
Then, the realisation that nothing of substance has passed down your gullet in over a week. Limiting one's conversation to Big Brother, football and the films of Johnny Depp is like eating nothing but red meat for weeks on end. It fills you up a treat, feels fantastic, but it'll take a fortnight to get anything out of there.
In desperation, the acid starts going into overdrive, meaning that some digestion starts to take place, but the results are unsavoury and decidedly bitty. What's more, when you peer into the bowl, you have to stop and think 'when did I eat that?' For example, I found I had produced the speculative comment that Ulysses was Welsh, as he was tormented by a one-eyed monster which spent all day cavorting with sheep - a nice thought in many ways, but hardly the cornerstone of a satisfying mental dump.
Suddenly, I remembered the old joke about the constipated mathematician who worked it out with a ruler, and set about procuring myself the equivalent tool. A yardstick was what was necessary - and so I spent half an hour reading the scribblings of great minds, a double teaspoonful of Andrews' to release my genius. Still, despite great effort and a lot of noise, little emerged that was tangible, still less worth touching. I considered the major unspoken truths that rule our lives: that every conversation with strangers of the same age will revert to the children's programmes of your youth, or that listening to other people's dreams is dull as fuck ("and then a half-naked Danny Baker started singing Elvis...").
So, after a desperately unproductive session in the private cubicle of my mind, I was faced with a page as white as fresh, unstained porcelain, lacking even the customary soggy fag end to lend it some character. I considered the tactical chunder, straight regurgitation of my recent intake, and these were the chunks I blew:
In the eighties, Dennis Hopper was drinking half a gallon of rum and twenty-eight beers a day. He switched from rum and coke to rum and cranberry juice, because he believed it would be better for his liver.
Nice anecdote, again, but hardly in proportion to the intake. And that was probably copyright anyway. Still, I bet he never had any problems with his movements......
Well, there it is; we have rooted through the undigested contents of my intestinal tracts, and come up with nothing of real value. Still, I shall spend the next few weeks eating plenty of fruit and veg, including bowl upon bowl of prunes, and by next time I'll be positively gushing. Till then, take care, and be sure to wash your hands on the way out.