Five Questions… is a new series where we ask five questions about something in the news, come on. I mean: come on. It's not that hard to get your head around, is it? Come on. This is not a nuanced concept.
In 2012, a man in Aberdeen got his head stuck in a bin. I say this because it was important. Here he is, the man, explaining that decision. "'I couldn't get my head out. It was shocking. I was looking for my hat. I was stuck for about 20 minutes. It was stinking. I'm now known as Bucket Heid." Dunno what the funniest part of that is – the local newspaper shoot where he cheerfully recreated how he got his head stuck? The instantaneous nickname he was given? The fact that he would even talk to a newspaper at all, about getting his head stuck in a bin? – but after looking at it hard for five years now I'm pretty sure it's the understatement, "it was shocking". Imagine getting your head – your entire head! – stuck in a bin (a bin!) and coming out with this description of it: it was shocking.
The point is: as William "Bucket Heid" Middleton proved, there is very little funnier than a human being getting stuck in something. It talks to something primal within us, watching people get stuck: we, humans, are powerful beings, agile and with thumbs. Physically, there is a lot we can achieve, even the weakest and most shapeless of us. But also we can very easily get our heads stuck in something, too, like a bin or a window. And that's funny. Same way seeing someone get tonked in the balls is funny, or people getting hit on the head. That video of the guy trampolining out of his trousers. Moments of exquisite human slapstick… it taps into something base and juvenile within us all.
This, as you know, is the crescendo of possibly the greatest story ever told: that of the boy, and the girl, and the Nando's, and the girl doing a shit, wrapping it in tissue paper and accidentally throwing it between two windows, where it got stuck, and the gymnastic attempt to retrieve it, and the fire brigade called in to help, and the GoFundMe page set up to replace the bathroom window broken in the action of it all.
Could Shakespeare have come up with a greater story than this? He could not. In 600 years, drama students will squabble among themselves about who gets to play the faceless Ophelia in this particular holy tragedy. They will wear full faces of oil paint and shudder when they have to say its name. "Final rehearsals," drama students of the future will say, "of… the Shittish Play." What I'm saying is this is a very important tale, a modern fable. Read it in full and come back to me.
Yeah, I have some questions:
WHO POOS AND GOES? OR RATHER: WHO POOS AND STAYS?
In the ensuing Slack discussion of this story when it broke, I learned a lot about my VICE colleagues, and by extension humanity as a wider whole: there are two types of people, when they do a poo and throw that poo out of the window and accidentally throw that poo into a poo deadzone where it cannot easily be retrieved, cursed to rot and curl forever, and those people are:
- RUNNERS: People who run away from the poo and pretend the poo never happened
- RIDERS: People who confront the poo, confront the evil they did
This can also be expressed thusly:
- Bad People
- Good People
Our Faceless Poo Girl falls into the latter category. Yes: she did a shit. Yes: she did a shit on a first date, widely seen as a faux pas. Yes: something in her internal wiring went deranged briefly and she picked the shit up with toilet paper and threw it out of the window. Yes: all these things happened. But she confronted the turd, admitted to the mistake. She walked out of that bathroom and said, "Hey: I done the shit." She admitted it. Imagine that. Imagine that scenario. Imagine each one of these scenarios:
- You are on a first date and it is going well, so rare a thing, and that initial shivering jolt of excitement is running through you. Could this be it, you think, nerves at once shredded and on edge, in Nando's, could this be it?
- You go back to their house and the nervous anticipation amplifies. Could this be it, you think, could I be about to get dicked down? You start to calcify the memories of this evening when you have to recount them to your grandchildren. The mood, the music. The colour of the curtains, the soft feeling of his bed sheet. This is how we met, you will tell them, one day. This is the night we fell in love.
- Then you feel that awful clunk-gurgle feeling of dread when you know you have to do shitty—
- Then you excuse yourself and do aforementioned shitty and then – as anyone who has ever Done Shitty in a semi-derelict student house will know, either the flush of the toilet does not work or only works under very specific circumstances, i.e. this one magic touch or pulling technique that makes it flush, and you (The Shit Doer) cannot seem to make this thing flush, and the shit is looking at you and you are looking at it, and you are stuck between two worlds, run or ride, sweat slick on your forehead with panic, knowing that every second you spend in here feels like a minute out there, to him—
- You do the thing where you throw the turd out the window
- The turd gets stuck in no man's land, leaving you in something of a predicament re: turd ownership
And then, after running through this entire gamut of emotions – this rollercoaster of an evening that started with you falling in love and ended with you shitting alone – after all that, to walk out of a bathroom and declare to someone who is 80 percent sure they are going to bang you tonight: "Hey, bit of a weird one, I shat and threw it out the window, should we call 999?" To do that? To not politely run away and pretend you never even shat? That takes a Good Person. It is possible this woman is one of the best people on Earth.
WHAT OTHER OPTIONS DID SHE RUN THROUGH WHEN THE SHIT HIT THE METAPHORICAL FAN
When you throw a shit out of a window in a way that leads to it getting caught in another window, there are only about three options: fess up; make a hasty exit and, if ever asked, feign ignorance (I would argue that after two or three rainy autumnal nights the shit-in-a-tissue would deteriorate to a point where it was an unrecognisable wad, and even if it was recognisable nobody would ever notice it was there, because it is trapped between two windows, so yes for a week or two everyone using the bathroom would be like, "Damn! Smells like wet shit in here!" or something, but, if you think about it, the half life of a shit smell is actually quite short, and the shittiest it would ever smell is in the aftermath of the incident: if you made it out without alerting anyone, the shit would in 99 percent likelihood go unnoticed or ignored forever, especially in a house full of boys; in the very slim chance someone uncovered the turd parcel, the backwards steps would never lead back through the sand to you).
Or, what? Like… kill the other people in the flat? Start crying? Pretend your… dog… is ill? In moments of extreme adrenalin-spike panic, you run some weird escape options. Did she ever consider, for example, exploding the entire flat with a cannon?
REMEMBERING THE WEIRDNESS OF STUDENT DATES
Perhaps you did not go to university – and fair fucks to you, really; enjoy the next 30 years of not paying 9 percent extra tax, big up – but there is something universal about the to-the-bones shitness of this date that only really happens between the ages of about 19 and 23, and most often involves those at college or university who are still on their mum's insurance on the car: Nando's, back to mine, overheating laptop blowing up while trying to watch a Netflix documentary on spotty Wifi, lying, shoes-on, on top of an unwashed duvet cover, student flat doesn't have a living room to do this in because it got converted into an additional bedroom, sub-£5 bottle of red wine from the nearest corner shop drunk out of two washed-out Nutella jars, probably a bit of indelicate hand stuff. Simple times. Innocent times. If you ask me – up to and including the turd window debacle – this is as close to a perfect date as it gets.
DID THEY BANG THO
I cannot decide whether this whole incident would make two people more or less likely to bang, because banging is a special alchemy, hard to explain but easy to understand when you're in the bubble of it, and as us – voyeurs pressed up against the shit window – it's hard exactly to tell. We must consider the evidence, though.
On one hand: the Netflix doc, red wine bottle, back-to-mine vibes – it all suggests banging is on the agenda. Before the shit, banging was on the agenda. All the sexy chess pieces are in place for a bang. Also, The Shit Thing is a fun, bonding adventure which forms two people closer together in an hour of upside down rush-to-the-head panic than maybe weeks of hanging out would do. After something like that – two students, breathless and giddy on the fumes of their adventure, half drunk, full (or, in her case, no longer full) of spicy Nando's, back at his – I'm afraid all the evidence is that they bang.
But then, on the other hand, maybe if you just spent 20 minutes to half an hour staring at a wet toilet paper wad with your own shit in it and the fire brigade had to break a window to get you out: maybe you would not be horny after that. It's tricky, isn't it. I'm going to be thinking about this one for weeks.
IS THIS IMAGE ACTUALLY ONE OF DEEP HOPE OR AM I GOING THROUGH SOME STUFF
All I see when I see this photo is a sudden urge of empathy and understanding, a feeling as huge and billowing and akin to, like, full-on actual capital-L Love, and truly I can't understand it myself. I almost want to weep. She pressed herself between two windows to retrieve her own shit. This is humanity. This is the country I want to live in. I don't want Tories and I don't want Brexit. I don't want racism and infighting, and arguments over migrants, and workers striking to barely hop above minimum wage. I don't want any of this – this petty, backwards place. This horrid little crux of islands, half-hard still for its fallen empire.
This is my Britain. A girl sandwiched between two windows, politely reaching for her own shit. A bathmat used as a thin cushion. This: this is my country. This girl is my people. She threw a shit out of a window, yes, but then she went and got it. And the sound lad who did the GoFundMe for a new window is going to donate any excess to charity. They are both good, wonderful people, and their story fills me with a strange hope. I hope they banged. I hope they get married. I hope they live long, pleasant lives together. Good people, doing good, brought together by something as simple and artful as a turd wrapped in Andrex. This is what we could have, if we all came together. This is the Britain I hope for, and the one I want to live in. God bless you, Turd Girl. God bless you both.
Previously in this fun (?) series: