At the time of writing this there are over seven billion people living on earth. Having never had an ability to accurately work out statistical equivalence, I gather that this amount of people would easily fill an Olympic sized swimming pool and would comprehensively cover the surface area of a football pitch.
The world is moving faster than ever (a superlative, not a scientific fact). It appears to me that to stand out from the masses, you need to be one of three things: a) attractive, 2) naked or d) attractive and naked. People are simply too busy to notice anyone who doesn’t make an impact.
I’d like to recount a tale of myself as a ten year old lad, when, inadvertently and without any pre-planning I managed to grab the attention of every person that cast eyes on me. And it was all thanks to a bowl of Corn Flakes.
The day started as any other day. Having been an avid sleep walker as a child I found myself in a room of the house that wasn’t my bedroom and subsequently panicked. Once the panic had subsided, I attempted to dress myself only for my mother to tell me that as we were travelling to Scotland to see family, other clothes were more appropriate. It was spring time so the probability of my mother dressing me in some hideous dungaree and polo shirt combination was quite high. An idea that, even to this day I have never quite grasped is, why on earth anyone would ever deem it necessary to wear dungarees. Bob the builder, Billy Piper and people with a pencil behind the ear are the only people that should wear dungarees.
We were catching the train from Newcastle: a two hour drive from our house. I seem to remember we were running late, so rather hurriedly I inhaled my breakfast and sat in the car ready to leave. The journey, for the large part was uneventful. As usually happened with car journeys lasting longer than five minutes, my brother and I squabbled, hit each other then sat refusing to talk to each other.
The time passed and we entered Newcastle in time to catch our train. We were no more than five minutes from the station when I began to regret the rapid dispatching of my breakfast earlier in the day. However, before I could lean forward and tell my parents, it happened.
A stream of warm, brown, speckled vomit gushed from my mouth and covered everything in the surrounding area. The back of the passenger seat, the floor, the car door and my precious dungarees were now all dripping in the contents of my stomach. My dad let out what could be described as a combination of annoyance and resignation. (I must explain – this was not the first public outpouring of my stomach. I had suitably embarrassed my parents countless times before. This event was merely the next occurrence.)
As with all events that lead to my embarrassment, my brother laughed throughout its duration. This was in no way helpful to me or my mother who was now charged with the task of cleaning me up.
We exited the car and waved goodbye to my dad whilst inadvertently covering a bystander in regurgitated corn flakes before making our way into the station. As it was the school holidays, unfortunately for me, the station was full of people. I waddled through them trying my best to go unnoticed. When you are covered head to toe in vomit, this is an absolute impossibility. Not only was I there for everyone to see, but the stench that was emanating from me was unbearable.
My mother, probably overcome with more embarrassment than me, managed to track down a station worker patrolling the platform. I remember he looked me up and down before hearing my mother’s story. I didn’t listen to the conversation as I had become preoccupied with what had quickly grown to be my favourite vomit related game: identify the chunks. This involved identifying, through touch, sight and smells the different foods that together made up my new stylish pelt.
My game was interrupted by the station worker radioing over to his colleague who apparently had the keys to the refuge of the disabled toilet where we could clean this mess up. By this time the sick had become cold and my clothes had begun sticking to my chest and legs. His colleague radioed back querying how, on a busy day he would be able to recognise me amongst the multitudes descending on his side of the station. The man replied bluntly and rather loudly for everyone within 20 metres to hear, “GARY, HE’S THE LAD WHO IS COVERED IN SICK!”
Head hung low, I shuffled over the bridge to the opposite platform leaving a trail of slime and chunks in my trundled wake. It was unerringly silent apart from the ever-present soundtrack of my brother’s continuous and incessant laughter.
I would like to think that whilst my mother peeled my soggy clothes from me, I would have thought that someday I would be able to laugh about this unfortunate occurrence. However this thought didn’t cross my mind. Instead I remember standing partially naked in a disabled toilet, cold, miserable and having a little cry. All because of a bowl of corn flakes…