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Friday, 29 April 2016

A Most Talented Stomach

I was sitting down when the gurgling began, not that of a child in a pram. The gurgling came from my stomach. It’s something I’ve become accustomed, too. As the body ages it becomes more determined—desperate even— to show how hard it’s working. My stomach is a case in point, and this evening it gave me everything but fireworks and lights.

I must confess it had something to work on, namely lentil dahl, Roquefort cheese and a handful of grapes, but I wasn’t expecting this.

It began with a whiny sort of noise, more like a creaky door—or a conductor calling an orchestra to order. A long hollow noise followed, an intestinal aria as other parts of the stomach raised their instruments and waited their turn.

When it came, it was like duelling banjos, a Prokofiev and Shostakovich showdown in the guts and coming from every direction. The gurgles varied from the full bodied and fruity to the muted trumpet solo, but wh really surprised me was its duration. It went on, and on, and on.

For a while I panicked, thinking of those unfortunate souls who hiccupped for years on end. Would I be an embarrassment, to left at home with the TV on full volume? A fourteenth century mystic cried for over two decades thinking on the wounds of Christ. Where was my stomach going with this?

There would be lulls followed by a whole series of noises, like a roaring of termites in the lower intestine; and then a brief silence heralding the long plaintive sound of a whale in song. It was the colonic version of the dawn chorus, but where as in bed you can stagger out to shut the windows, with the stomach there is no escape. 

So I sat, a quiet pride gradually replacing fear, but relieved there was nobody else in the room. When it ended I experienced a perverse disappointment, like a concert had ended; perhaps a little Vaughan Williams next time around. Broccoli might do it.  

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