Effluvia of some vintage
Yesterday, I was reminded again of the following story my friend Foster Neville sent me some time ago. I am not sure who its author is (it might well be Foster himself), so at this point I can only quote it without giving credit where it is due.
It is just too funny to let it go to waste:
Vivian Stanshall of Bonzo Dog Band fame kept newspaper cuttings in a book he called his ‘Book of Madness’. The tragic tale of the Browns led to him being hospitalised when he first read the article.
With the drama that only a local paper can supply, the couple next door to the Browns are quoted:
“We’d been getting on quite well with the Browns. After our lavatory became completely blocked, I called the council. They were around in next to no time in their lorry. They went into No.40, our house, and inserted their biggest pump into our convenience.
One of the council operatives switched it on. There was a tremendous rumble. Janet, my five-year-old, thought it was thunder. The rumble was followed by a tremendous whoosh. I nipped upstairs and flushed the convenience. It was working perfectly. No sooner had the operatives vanished when I saw June Brown from No.42 coming up the garden path. She was hysterical and covered in what looked like sludge. Apparently when the pump began to work, instead of sucking, it blew, and the whole of Mrs Brown’s bedroom was covered with effluvia of some vintage.”
It was the choice of ‘effluvia’ to describe the devastating substance which led to Vivian’s trip to hospital.
The paper goes on to record the reaction of the Browns themselves:
‘“The council are to blame”, said Bob Brown. “We are camping out at June’s parents. Our house is ruined. It’s everywhere. The ceilings are collapsing, the lavatory was blown into the spare bedroom and the TV is clogged up. The dog may have to be put down.”’