I like food. I’m a fan of food. It’s the most efficient way I’ve found for cheese to enter my body. But, I’ve got to admit, I pay about as much attention to the food that I eat as I do to the air that I breathe. I’m pretty sure it’s important (extended periods of time without either tend to become quite uncomfortable), but I don’t go to fancy West End shops to buy imported vine-ripened Italian air, or spend evenings discussing with friends the most pleasurable ways to inhale. Delia Smith’s How To Breathe does not sit on my bookshelf. It’s air, and I like it, but that’s about as far as it goes. And I really have no inclination to feel otherwise about food. Consequently, if 1) it can go from the shop to in my mouth in fifteen minutes, and 2) a cow was somehow involved, then I’ll probably eat it.
Suffice to say, things are probably pretty fucked up down there. I’m basically doing Dresden, but with burgers instead of fire-bombs.
And fair play to my lower intestine: it generally does its job pretty well, but I sometimes get this niggling feeling that it’s just biding its time—waiting for a moment of weakness so it can fly out of my arse, wrap itself round my neck and strangle me to death in a final suicidal show of defiance. Clearly, this state of affairs is intolerable, and should be avoided by any means possible. While I’m not in the habit of performing favours for my internal organs, I felt like on this occasion I could make an exception. As well as that, I was quite intrigued by the idea of feeling healthy. It sounded… nice. If quite hard work.
So, time to get healthy. In this situation, people generally have two choices: they can make an effort to eat a little better and do some exercise, or they can submit themselves to expensive, bizarre, embarrassing and medically unproven procedures pushed by predatory pseudoscientists who make the toes curl on every rational-thinking person with every statement that comes out of their lying mouths.
In the case of sorting out your digestive system, the number-one fake-cure is colonic irrigation. Like all new-age bits of bad science, this one has an alluring ring of respectability about it. You’ve got poop up your butt, man! That’s icky! Better get it out! That’ll sort you right out. And it gets all kinds of glowing endorsements from those fragile-looking health-freaks that care about that kind of thing. You just feel so much… better after it. You’ll… glow, they’ll say, before downing another quart of carrot-banana-engine oil smoothie. There’s got to be something in it, right? That’s what my editors wanted to find out. So they booked me in for a session.
Actually, no, that’s not right at all. My editors just wanted a reason to laugh at me for weeks on end. Thanks, guys.
Here’s how it works: covered in nothing but a towel from the waist down, you lie on a bed and wait for the assistant, listening to the new-age music, slightly worried that you’ve accidentally ordered an erotic massage. When she arrives, she is a smart-looking woman with a permanent smile (mine was called Collette), and gives off the general demeanour of a kindly primary school teacher. This is quite nice, and puts you at ease. What could possibly go wrong, with a woman like this? Women like this taught you your times tables and held your hand crossing roads. Then she’ll pick up the anal probe, and start rubbing it down with KY Jelly, and the brief moment of nostalgic calm will disappear, replaced with the original terror, now laced with all kinds of Freudian overtones that you no doubt will be telling your psychiatrist about in twenty years. Then, reaching under the towel, she will insert the speculum with an ease attained only through years of practice. “That’s the hardest bit,” she’ll say. She’s lying.
It felt strangely… nothing. I asked, out of interest, how much water an irrigation will use, and she pointed at a tank, slightly larger than a water cooler bottle, and said “Oh, about four of those”. I did a bit of quick calculation, and worked it out to be about twenty-five gallons of water. To put that in perspective, that means that during the procedure, Collette managed to run an entire bathtub full to the brim with water through my lower intestine, without me noticing. I felt quite annoyed by that. It’s like, what the fuck, colon? You gonna pay attention down there, little guy?
Collette (after what we went through together, I really felt we were on first-name terms) then started massaging my belly, to work the really tough bits out, as far as I could tell, which made me feel like one of those key-rings you can get where you squeeze the pig to make poop come out.
About halfway through, my phone rang.
“Do you want to answer that?” she asked
“…I’ll call them back.”
Shortly afterwards, I remembered my greatest fear about the whole thing. Ever heard of klismaphiliacs? I have. It’s a term for people who love enemas. A bit too much. And I started thinking—what if I was one of them? How do you tell? What if my latent raging klismaphilia was about to burst out at any second, manifesting itself in all kinds of messy ways? After a few minutes’ worry, however, I was prepared to put enemas on my list of things that don’t really turn me on. And thank fuck for that.
The whole thing took about half an hour, and afterwards, Collette left, suggesting I might want to “use the facilities” before I left. “Oh, and you might want to take your time.”
Sweet Jesus Christ, she wasn’t kidding.
What she probably should have said was, “Quite forcefully, and for quite a long time, you’re now going to piss out of your ass. Yup. Right out of your poopin’ place.” And I did. I can’t quite describe exactly what it’s like, but trust me, it’s horrible. You’re sat there, and all you can think is that something has gone so very wrong inside you, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. It’s like breathing snakes, or waking up and finding your toes peeling bananas. There’s a very real, visceral sense inside you that this is not the way things are meant to be.
I think the strangest bit about the whole experience—apart from the ass-pissing—was the lengths they took to make it seem like the most normal thing in the world. They recognise the oddness of the whole experience—and let’s face it, at the end of the day these are grown men and women firing water up their arses—and so they try and dress it up with pan-pipes, warm towels and fancy names. Colonic irrigation—seriously? Are you a farmer? Are you trying to grow crops down there? Is my colon prime real estate for Californian Wehani rice? No? Then you’re not really fucking irrigating anything at all, are you? The obfuscation doesn’t stop there, either—clinical talk of “removing waste matter” and so on starts to sound rather hollow when you can quite clearly see your own shit flowing down a tube three feet away. These weird attempts to make you think that you’re not actually lying on your back with a tube up your bum are, I think, meant to make you relax, make you think that this is a regular thing to do, something that you should be enjoying, but they really just throw the entire bizarre practice into an even more surreal light.
So are the wheatgrass-munching masses right? Was I a new man afterwards? Free from my effluent anchor, did I rise to the heavens of health to sit at the right hand of Richard Simmons, free to live a toxin-free life? Of course I fucking didn’t. Perhaps I’m just too far gone to get any kind of benefit from the entire affair, but after a couple of days I still couldn’t perceive a single difference from the old me, weighed down with all that nasty poop. I was quite gassy for a couple of days, which was fun, but I don’t think that was really an intended side-effect. If I had to name a single side-effect of the whole thing, I’d have to say that at least now I know what it feels like to piss out of my ass. Am I a better man for it? Perhaps not. But I am changed nonetheless.
Editor’s note: Pete is a grumpy old man for a 21 year old. Colonics may not immediately improve the digestive health of an already healthy person, but we certainly noticed he has been glowing more recently. Don’t take our word for it: visit the nice people at the Hair by Hanlon Spa, 713 Great Western Road. 0141 339 1271 to make an appointment, or 07970 920 837 for more information.