My stomach rumbles like no other stomach on earth. I don’t just mean I get the odd hunger pang; I mean that my stomach is like an impertinent child who can’t stand a moment’s silence. At the slightest pause, and particularly, it would seem, in one-on-one classes with young housewives it jumps in with some quite anti-social outbursts and becomes painfully embarrassing. Quite frankly, you see, my stomach has an enormous repertoire. It has an astonishing array of digestive noises. It can produce everything from mild hunger grumblings and something akin to coffee percolation, which feels like bubbles inside, to deep grumbles which make it sound like it is trying to communicate with far off elephant chums. So, if I don’t eat enough at lunch I get those noises, and if I do have a big lunch I get squeaks and juicy gurglings and those horrible withheld farts that come down slowly and then begin ascending back inside with a huge intestinal growl. You know, like a colonic lava lamp. And you can’t stop them once they start! In fact, like labour contractions, they increase in frequency until they are finally expelled and that can’t very well be done in class now, can it?
I have tried everything to quell the noise and nothing works. I’ve tried sudden body straightening and near bent-double crouching in an attempt to smother the sound but all to no avail. Those sudden movements only serve to alarm the students and alter the pitch so that, instead of the deep rumble, you might get a long high squeal. Once I got a combination which might have been amusing were it not for the fact that it was just a timid fifty-something housewife and I in the room. I got a long squeal that terminated in a deep rumble and put me in mind of the game electronic battleships. I wanted to say, ‘F2. Hit!’ but somehow I knew she wouldn’t laugh. For the next forty minutes or so it was painful for both of us to pretend that we couldn’t hear the cacophony emanating from my bowels.
But what other options are there? Once, I did accidentally let out a fart with a female private student. I thought I’d got away with it because it was silent but then the smell hit. Oh, and was it ever a smell! I am still amazed at how the woman carried on as if nothing had happened. She knew it wasn’t her and yet said nothing as we sat pretending to role play asking for directions with a kind of jobbies and garlic stench enveloping us. I suppose I should have apologized, but what do you say? You can’t just interrupt someone who is telling you to turn left at the bakery to say, ‘Hang on a moment, but I’m sorry, I just farted.’