'Phil, look me in the eye and tell me those black cornflakey bits aren't better out than in?" I hadn't seen Max since my stag night, when he engineered the most indescribably humiliating exp erience of my life to date, barely concealed from my wife by the judicious use of boxer shorts in bed for the fortnight before our wedding. She thought I was just being quaint. After that, Max and I drifted apart and despite assurances that the negatives have been destroyed, I've never really trusted him. So when he phoned to say he was staying at The Swallow for the weekend and did I fancy "an all-night session", I accepted with mixed emotions.

Max did a classics degree, but apart from that he's a man's man - a stocky, aggressive carnivore who refuses to eat vegetables and had a trial for Yorkshire schools at hooker. True, he went to Girton, started to play on the wing and has visibly softened since the birth of his son, but he's the last person in the world I'd associate with colonic irrigation. For a start, men in general don't go in for that sort of thing. Latent phobias of hoses up the arse are rife among British chaps, and hence 95 per cent of UK irrigants (and irrigators) are women. So was he taking the piss?

"Do I look as if I'm taking the piss?"


"Well, I'm deadly serious. You're the one who's snickering. You bloody doctors are so dismissive of anything different, anything new, anything that challenges your 'hack it out and plumb it into a Sainsbury's bag' view of bowel disorders. Well, that's too late for me. I'm not waiting until I get cancer or irritable bowel or any of the other millions of diet-related disorders. I'm into prevention - flush out all the crud and toxins."


"Don't bloody smirk, Hammond. I tell you, you feel absolutely marvellous afterwards. It's the best feeling in the world."

"Better than sex?"

"Well... different."

We'd had a few pints by this stage, and this wasn't our first topic of conversation, but somehow we got there via Phil de Glanville's omission from the Lions party.

"How are you coping with life in general?"

"Don't give me that amateur psychology crap. I'm fine, work's fine, the family's fine and my colon's getting flushed out twice a year for the rest of my life."

"Lovely. It's my round, isn't it?'

"You don't even know what it involves, do you?"

"Well... not entirely."

"See, you're writing something off without considering it."

"So enlighten me. Who does it to you?"

"An east European in North London. She's batty as a fruit cake but she gives great lavage."

"How big is the hose?"

"About a ten-pence piece in girth. There are actually two tubes. One to deliver the water and one to take it away."

"What temperature?"


"How much?"

"Eighty gallons."

"Eighty gallons! Are you sure?"

"Yeah, but not all at once. It trickles in under gentle gravitational pressure."

"And what trickles out?"

"Well, obviously there's shit and stuff to start with, but every now and then you get this incredible warm sensation followed by a black cornflakey thing that's been stuck up there for years."

"Oh yuck."

"Exactly. Better out than in."

"What position do you assume to have black cornflakes flushed out of your fundament with 240 pints of warm water?"

"You sit down, just like being in a dentist's chair. Only you can talk."

"About what?"

"Life. The weather. Whatever."

"Don't you worry that she might be flushing out helpful stuff, like bacteria?"

"Ah yes, but she gives you bacteria tablets afterwards to replace it. And some herbal tonics."

"And what does she think of your meat-only diet?"

"She thinks that's why I have so many black cornflakes of festering, putrid gristle."

"Hang on a sec. How do you know what's coming out?"

"The tube is see-through."

"Right. Same again?"

There may be something in all this other than elaborate placebo but hard evidence is lacking. For a start, the best scientific trials are blinded, so you don't know if you're getting active treatment or placebo, but I suspect most people would notice if they had a hose about them. An alternative would be to have two groups of volunteers with six-monthly hoses, but only one turned on, and see what happened to the rates of bowel cancer, irritable colon and such over 10 years or so. But Max can't wait - he needs purging now. The morning after, he was coughing his guts up in a Swallow toilet. "Ever thought of having your lungs flushed out?"

"Phil, if they did it, I'd be first in the queue"n


In "Mailer, the Great I Am", published in The Tabloid on Wednesday 26 February, it was incorrectly suggested that the late Denis Lemon was given a custodial sentence as a result of the Gay News blasphemy trial. Mr Lemon in fact received a suspended sentence, which was later quashed on appeal.