No Surprises Living in Devizes: Grumpy Mr Potatohead’s Yard

He-Gassen (屁合戦) literally translates from Japanese as “fart competitions,” and is a sequential scroll depicting just this, blasts of flatulence often blowing contestants off the edges. Dating back to the Edo period of 1603, this ancient scroll verifies flatulence and defecation have always been subjects of hilarity. It is with such example I justify this week’s bought of No Surprises, and add while it holds no bars, I will attempt to remain subtle with expressive terminology, to expectantly not put you off your tea. For the more sensitive among us I bid you bear with, as I promise there is a point to my anecdote.

It concerns a chapter in my day today, whereupon I perchance to be at the Old Potato Yard on the Lydeway. It is a splendid place with an array of interesting shops and small businesses, such as the wonderful Plank’s Farm Shop, which is ideal for the consumer who feels Waitrose is simply too inexpensive for their superior palates. It is a place I would personally avoid after today’s fiasco which I am about to elucidate, least said, if you feel unable to resist the temptation to visit it, you refrain for using the toilet facilities provided, and hold any waste matter in.

It is a location I frequent often in my labour, as I have a client I deliver to hither. It is also the only spot with toilet facilities on my route, so while I, more often than not, have no need of them, on this particular occasion I was cut short; “touching cloth,” I believe is the apt contemporary idiom.

Although its been many moons since my last call to the amenities, not much had changed. I did my business and took heed of signs requesting users keep the place clean, using primitive satire. I’m no savage; I brushed the toilet bowl to the point one could’ve eaten their dinner in it, washed my hands and departed with the satisfaction of a job well done.


potatao yard
The Old Potato Yard; looks nice, don’t have a poo there.

Upon exiting the facilities I perchance to notice, what can only be described as, a primate dressed in contemporary human attire scurry into the room after me. With an expression of anger and contempt he promptly arrived outside again to address me as “Oi,” and a plethora of abuse ejaculated from an aperture I could only assume was the creature’s mouth in a language so colourful I doubt your English-French dictionary would find suitable translation.

I begged his pardon and inquired to his issue. Between curse words and primordial name-calling I managed to capture the notion he was displeased with the order I left the facilities. I felt it superfluous to point out matter was spraying from his mouth as he chastised me, as if he was masticating a dentist’s drill, which in some small way I wished he was.

I begged to differ, explained I had used the brush provided to the best of my ability and left the amenities in manner no indifferent to the standard they were in upon my arrival. Still this seemed unsatisfactory in his eyes, repeatedly using the C-word to designate yours truly. Despite the fact I felt this was gratuitous, and told him thus, he proceeded to insult me. So together we funnelled back into the premises to inspect it once more. Low and behold the simian was correct, for there, as far under the u-bend as possibly visible, and gone unnoticed from the angle I originally stood to clean the bowl, was an amoeba-sized stain on the porcelain measuring a staggering millimetre in circumference.

Imagine a gentleman’s embarrassment at such an incongruitous discrepancy, I apologised profusely, and set to work with the brush to amend my mishap. Satisfied now that the job was complete I again left the premises. The creature of the quagmire lurked. I attempted to justify my inefficiency once more, explaining the angle emphasis, but again it was met with hostilities.

Such irritation and annoyance in such a young person should be considered unhealthy, and if he is reading this I strongly urge him to do whatever he needs to do to diminish this stress, relax and unwind prior to going on his rounds. If it requires coffee so be it, if it requires what, in common jargon might be deemed as “a quick one off the wrist,” likewise. Coincidently, a slang term for one who practises this method of masturbation could adequately define his very persona.

It appeared a subsequence of frustrations erupted from its person, again decorated in colourful language, it stressed and accused me of every episode in the facilities history whereupon it was left in an unsatisfactory state. I assured him it was not so, to which he replied with now threatening mannerisms asking what I intended to do about the false allegations. Shame he was quite unaware the pen is mightier than the sword, and I write this popular causerie which usually brings eight to ten thousand regular readers. Media is a powerful armament, particularly when unendorsed by editors as this is.

My query is, why supply a washroom facility if you only intend to threaten anyone who may use it? Is it wise for your retailers, paying high rental fees, to know what an obnoxious turnip their site manager is?

I write from the hip, I write as I feel, people warm to this, despite the subject being scatological, I hope to retain some readership, as I feel the incident illustrates a point. There is much aggression in our land, whereupon this trivial dispute could have been carried out with decorum, and manners would have cost this being nothing. His antagonistic nature and complete inability to let bygones be bygones awarded him in my mind the necessary qualifications to excel in career at Wiltshire Council, a topic we need to address on another occasion.

Daily I face hostile confrontations in a similar manner, in my view completely unjustified. In a country which seems to be slipping in the dignity it was once renowned for, and in a place under consistent decline, politically and economically, it is a shame we cannot regard each other in manners more approachable and not allow our sociability decline in a similar fashion.

Now, you see there was a point to my rant. If you should chose to decide a course of action in response to this, for instance you BOYCOTT THE OLD POTATAO YARD, until such a time this matter is dealt with, that is your prerogative and has had no influence from my say so. For I am not condoning or encouraging anyone to BOYCOTT THE OLD POTATAO YARD, unless they feel it necessary to BOYCOTT THE OLD POTATAO YARD, which I would find highly amusing.

I can only presume the old potato in its title doubles up as the site manager’s brain.

Should a suitable written apology arrive upon my person within, say, one month, I will see fit to amend this statement, but for now let it be known, simply because you opt to call into the more aristocratic environments, doesn’t mean you will not face conflicts for simply relieving yourself; which I feel, is a sad element to life around these parts.


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