Metro 34

Richard Herring: When someone farts do you out the culprit or avoid blame?

When someone let rip at a wedding, Metro's resident comedian Richard Herring found himself in a rare situation where humour couldnÂ’t save him.

My wife and I were at a wedding. ItÂ’s almost six months since our own nuptials and itÂ’s nowhere near as much fun when youÂ’re not the centre of attention. For a start you donÂ’t get any presents. I tried to persuade my wife to turn up in her wedding dress in the hope we could hijack the event and maybe make off with a couple of toasters, but she refused.

I was sitting with my wife and her parents. I am still at the stage where I am trying to impress the in-laws with my politeness, so I was mortified after dinner when I became aware of something toxic and gaseous wafting into my nostrils. Somebody had stepped on a duck, sent a memorandum from the Ministry of the Interior, made a cheese toasty with extra pickle. Somebody had farted.

Being in polite company, everyone tried to ignore the noxious nasal intrusion, which was difficult as it quickly became stronger and refused to dissipate. It had been silent, but my, it was violent. While it was flagrant, it was most certainly not fragrant. If Wilfred Owen had been there, heÂ’d have got a cracker of a poem out of this one.

All I knew for certain was that (for once in my life) this backdoor trombone blast was nothing to do with me, and it couldnÂ’t be my wife, as she never farts (I assume, otherwise why would she make such a fuss whenever I do?) But what if my father or mother-in-law had been the culprit? A mistimed joke might undo months of crawling.

Even worse, what if they were assuming that I was responsible for this airborne affront to etiquette and demanded our divorce? This anal announcement could equal marital annulment. In any case, if I had commented: ‘Blimey, who cut the cheese?’ they would assume I was the perpetrator (parpetrator?) due to the ancient law of ‘He who smelt it, dealt it.’

You can of course trump (no pun intended) that by immediately countering: ‘He who made the rhyme committed the crime.’ But that would be quite an accusation to make to my father-in-law. And one that ironically enough also rhymes and could thus be construed as a veiled admission of guilt.

I wanted to go outside into the fresh air, but that would be as good as signing the cooked-cauliflower-cocktail confession. We had to sit tight, ignoring that which could not be ignored. I prayed for God to send a Holy wind to disseminate this unHoly one. But my prayer went unanswered. Even if you were omnipresent youÂ’d leave the room for this eye-stinger.

I turned away from my wife and her parents and the smell increased. This was horrible, but also a relief. It meant that they were absolved. The bottom burp must have come from one of the gentlemen (using the term lightly) standing behind us. The girlfriend of one of them had just gone to the bar.

Had he taken the opportunity to whisper a sphincter secret? Only to have unwittingly created one of those unshifting swamp guffs that hang around like the angry ghost of whatever meal had created them?

I couldnÂ’t accuse him. I had no methane detector and my evidence was circumstantial. The fartitect of these crimes against humanity would remain free to unleash his colon cologne another day. We may never know the truth.

I am just hoping my parents-in-law are reading this and will realise I am innocent. Though if they are from the ‘He who denied it supplied it’ school of thought then I am screwed.

See Richard HerringÂ’s reworking of his smash-hit 2002 show Talking Cock: The Second Coming on his nationwide tour.

Visit for tickets. Follow Richard on Twitter: @Herring1967