Having a poo. We all do it. And most of us do it at least three times a week. We do it more often than going to the gym or to the cinema; probably more often than washing our hair.
We need to do it. If we didn't, our bottoms would puff up like balloons, and eventually pop. (Or something.) And some days we need to do it more quickly than others - like that time a couple of days ago when I ran to the front of the queue, knees together, in Waitrose loos, shouting 'GANGWAY - MY PANTS ARE ABOUT TO EXPLODE!'.
Sorry about that.
Having a good poo makes us happy. I've drawn up my own, personal, happy scale.
Yes. You read it correctly. Having a good poo is - just for that moment - better than being in love, having wonderful sex or even winning £10 on the lottery. It really is.
And when we can't do it - When Poo Goes Wrong (great title for a film starring Jason Statham, perhaps), we get depressed. Or perhaps, when we are depressed, poo goes wrong - the two things seems inextricably linked.
What I don't understand about having a Number 2: why we don't talk about it more? We all do it. So why don't we shout about it?
Even the subject of having a wee gets freely talked about round here. I frequently bemoan my lack of pelvic floor ("NO I'M NOT GOING ON THE SODDING TRAMPOLINE"), and saying "I need a wee" to your work colleagues seems somehow more acceptable than, "I'm dying for a dump."
But why? Why don't we talk about it? I'm wondering if it's because it feels like the ultimate personal experience. For example, to have the best poo, not only do I have to be alone in the bathroom, but I'm happiest if the house is empty. In fact, if everyone in the entire street could just bugger off for half an hour, all the better. There needs to be reading material. If anyone does have the impertinence to be in the room next door, I will ask them to put the radio on, or sing, or much better - just piss off.
Why is it so important to get it right? Because, for me, it can be a euphoric experience. If it's a good poo - complete, smooth, medium sized - the process of pushing it out is... well, it's sodding amazing. And when it's out, I not only feel ten stone lighter physically - but somehow mentally, too. When I'm constipated, and I feel - well, like shit - and no matter how much rocking backwards and forwards I do on the loo, only the tiniest nut comes out (if I'm lucky) - then pooing can be a grim....job.
Is poo one of the last big taboos? If so, why? Most of us think of our crap as disgusting, smelly, bacteria-ridden, messy stuff, not even to be looked at in the toilet bowl. We'd rather lick the pavement than our own poo. And yet, eating your own poo won't harm you (after all, it's just come out of you, so you're not adding anything new to the mix) whereas conversely, that shiny pavement you've just licked will probably give you toxioplasmosis and lots more besides. And in fact, the medical benefits of poo are only just beginning to be uncovered; scientists are looking into the beneficial effects of poo transplant, where crap from a healthy individual is transfused into a poorly person's gut. Apparently it can perform better than antibiotics.
So poo is natural, and it's beneficial. And we know that, if our poo looks odd, has blood in it, is a funny colour, or similar - it can be a marker for serious illness. Yet most of us don't even look at our poo. We conveniently flush it away or cover it with toilet paper before it catches our eye ("YOOHOO!"). Occasionally it makes its own way round the u-bend (which has always foxed me, by the way. I stare at the empty toilet and think - did I just dream that?).
The Germans - masters of design and engineering - have put a shelf in their toilet bowl, to catch your poo before it disappears underwater, and to force you to look at it.
In the UK, we don't normally talk about our poos in public (a bit like we're buttoned up about sex - although I think we're getting looser) - and yet we've got a gazillion nouns for it; Shit, turd, poo, dung, waste, stool, excretion, faeces, plop, crap, number 2, shite.... We've picked them up with invaders and settlers ('turd', for example, may have come from old Norse, whereas 'shit' has German roots). We can describe poo in such a rich and encompassing way - and yet we're embarrassed to do so.
Well, people of Britain - and perhaps of America too, although I'm less sure of your toilet culture - it's time we started talking crap! If there's something wrong with your poo - go to the docs! If you've had a really good shit - celebrate with your family! If you're all blocked up and need sympathy and syrup of figs - get your husband/kids/dog to look after you!
Turd is important, and it would be great to lift the lid on it, just a bit.
Further info: a couple of good websites -