Lavatorial Levity: The funny side of dirty jobs

2012-09-13 00:00

THE fat little dorper ewe was firmly wedged between my knees with her tail pushed up against my left leg, a typical arrangement when scanning ewes for pregnancy. I was seated in a darkened barn, the ultrasound scanner on a table next to me. We had already done 30-odd ewes and I was sliding the transducer over the fleeceless area just in front of her udder when I felt a warm sensation running down the inside of my gumboot. Before I could do anything about it, she emptied the contents of her bladder down the gaping mouth of my wellie and followed the performance with a wag of her tail and an explosion of drollies into the same receptacle.

My assistants thought this was hilarious.

As I laboured through the remainder of the ewes I wondered why members of the human species derived such amusement out of lavatorial episodes. An alien observer would be left scratching his head (assuming they have heads) at the delight we experience at seeing someone stand in it, slip in it, hear it or smell it. Most people will giggle at an in-opportune wind break and even the up-market sophisticates will be seen trying to suppress a smile at an unfortunate recipient of a follow through.

I mean, I watch the kids as I slide the thermometer into the rectum of their family pet. Their noses wrinkle up in disgust, but this reaction is invariably followed by the ghost of a smile and usually some embarrassed remark.

I was discussing this phenomenon with my friend Nick, an archetypical dairyman and someone who always has a smile close to the surface of his hairy countenance.

“This reminds me of an incident that I recall from my student days in Staffordshire, England,” he started. “Quite a long time ago,” he added.

“Evening was approaching during the local agricultural show in New Bingley when my fellow students and I retired to the balcony of the show’s watering hole, which was elevated above the cattle lines. We all had a glass and a half of the show’s finest clutched in our grubby paws, leaning over the balustrade and observing the passing parade below.

“Presently, an authoritative figure appeared, attired in the garb of the landed gentry. I mean, tweed coat, leather boots, pipe, deerstalker, shooting stick — the whole nine yards. He was followed by a small group of youngsters, our age then, possibly students. His demeanour was that of lecturer, arrogant almost, and he positioned himself behind each cow, leaning back on his stick, pointing with his pipe and commentating to his minions on the relative merits of each cow’s udder attachments, teat placements, quarter confirmation and other topics that would be interesting to certain sectors of our society only.

“We were watching the scene unfold with mild distraction, as we were indulging in the universal past-time of all agricultural students — drinking beer. That is until the gent positioned himself behind a rather large Friesland cow. Then he had our undivided attention as we saw her tail raise and her anal sphincter dilate. He also saw what was happening and took a step backwards until he considered himself out of range, positioning himself once again firmly on his shooting stick and continuing his animated monologue, no doubt explaining some technical aspects of the bovine gastro-intestinal system.

“And then she coughed.

“Do you remember those old-time movies where the reel was slowed down? One could see the pie leaving the pie thrower’s hand in slow motion, frame by frame, until it exploded over Charlie Chaplin’s head.

“This is what unfolded below us. A dung projectile erupted from the cow and hit our hero amidships, smothering him in digested Lucerne, and the other flotsam and jetsam of rumen fermentation, knocking him off his lofty perch and dumping him unceremoniously on the turf.

“Laugh! We nearly fell off the balcony.

“The only thing that stopped us rolling on the floor in mirth was the fact that we might have spilt some of the precious amber liquid.

“Through the corner of our eyes, we saw him get up, dust himself off and depart forthwith, leaving behind his underlings who were struggling vainly to conceal their mirth.

“He left behind his manicured façade and the cocky swagger with which he entered.”

Perhaps that is what makes it so funny.


• The author is a practising vet with a passion for his profession and a giggle in his heart.


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