And Alex Said: Arse

24 January 2003

Column 12: Arse, 24th January 2003

We meet in a poorly lit office, more like a cupboard, in a floor of the Biology department I never knew existed. Professor Dachshund von Anus is dressed in a fraying grey jumper, jeans which are covered in suspicious white stains, and he smells of whisky. Much like any other academic I’ve ever met, in fact.

He has been conducting research which is potentially of huge importance to humanity – he is compiling a comprehensive encyclopaedia of bottoms.

For the past four years, I’ve been staring at all kinds of bums, rumps, backsides, butts, arses, cheeks, posteriors, buttocks, seats… behinds… er… les derrières!”

“Rectums?” I suggest.

“Absolutely not!” he shouts, causing the bottles of disinfectant on the shelf to rattle. He takes a well-thumbed magazine out of his top drawer. It’s certainly more colourful than most academic journals – as far as I know, Physical Review Letters has no Readers’ Wives section – but I guess it makes it more fun to read.

This one here is a wonderful example of bottomus pertus – one of my favourites. Great to touch, and simply wonderful to admire from a distance – at home, I often peer through my curtains with a pair of binoculars, pondering the lovelies at the bus stop. Would a fart ever rumble those cheeks? I would think not, but if one ever did, it would smell of strawberries.”

I ask him whether this would be indicative of any disorder of the digestive system, but he ignores me.

“Now look here – this is the classic anus hilarious. Is there a tale sadder than that of the bottom that would be perfect, if only it were 50% smaller? It’s the kind of bottom that makes me want to cry and makes schoolboys giggle. In the laboratory, I’m often tempted to burst any anus hilarious with a pin, but I would hate to see the bottom explode rather than simply deflate nicely. And I’d probably be arrested.”

He turns the page. “Oh my god!” he shrieks. “That, if you can bear to look, is a horrifying example of rumpus hippopotamus. Every week I see a rather unfortunate specimen at the Post Office when I’m queuing for my dole mon…, er, stamps. Quite disgusting, especially when it releases wind.”

I ask if he has done any research specifically into farting. “Yes – farting is vital. Imagine what life would be like if, instead a bottom with a hole in it, all you had was an exceptionally large piece of fat hanging from your lower back. Where would exhaust gases escape? The whole lower abdomen would inflate and people would explode without warning, anywhere – on the bus, on a plane, in the shoe shop, at the lap-dancing club. Can you imagine if your big-breasted beauty suddenly blew up in your face, splattering bits of kidney in your drink and flinging liver at the other customers? It would ruin the whole atmosphere!”

The professor’s Arse Encyclopaedia will be published this autumn. He is currently working on The Ultimate Guide to Breasts.