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'Geeky bum time': A letter to The Sun

​Dear staffers at The Sun,

I was recently the subject of an article in your eminent newspaper about my new book Silent but Deadly: The Underlying Cultural Patterns of Everyday Behaviour. To refresh your memory, it was titled ‘GEEKY BUM TIME: I’m an expert on farts and have written a book all about why we pass wind’.

Without mincing words, I think it’s fair to say that the article is a journalistic masterpiece. Tell me ONE other paper better at painting a picture in words than The Sun. (Sure, those words are not remotely accurate, but what a picture they paint, eh?) Even more extraordinary is your commitment to matching your journalists with the most appropriate story. I imagine Alex Gass must have been thanking his lucky stars that he finally got to sink his teeth into the very piece that he was born to write. What an amazing coincidence that he was working for The Sun when the book came out!!!

I feel supremely confident that this article can only enhance my academic credibility – I mean, I’m an expert. On farts!!!! (Or, at least, you say that I say that I am, which is practically the same thing.) The only thing that surprises me is that the communications team at King’s College London haven’t got in touch to capitalise on this stellar marketing opportunity for the university. 

But what truly impresses me is your almost scholarly commitment to exploring the varied linguistic euphemisms for farting. It’s that kind of forensic attention to detail we’ve all come to expect from the paper that broke the Wagatha Christie story.

In fact, I’ve been so inspired by your coverage that I’ve created my very own book trailer. Perhaps I flatter myself, but I feel it captures something of the spirit of your extraordinary article. Plus, I think I might have stumbled on an under-utilised marketing technique for books!1 So thank you, Alex Gass and The Sun staffers, for all the inspiration you’ve provided. Pulitzer Prize: here we come!

Yours, etc.,

Kirsten Bell. 


Personally, and I’m deadly serious about this, I think books should be rated on how toilet friendly they are – you don’t want something that’s so engaging that you lose track of your purpose there, or such dreck that you’re tempted to wipe your arse with it.* The fact that 52 Things to Do While You Poo is a bestseller proves that this is a largely untapped market. I can heartily recommend Nigel Rees’ Graffiti series (Graffiti, Graffiti Lives, O.K., etc.) for this purpose; they gave me hours of reading pleasure on the loo growing up, plus a lot of new words for my burgeoning vocabulary!

*Jonathan Swift loved to accuse rivals and critics of producing bum fodder. You can read all about it in Richard Smyth’s Bum Fodder: An Absorbing History (in case the title doesn’t give it away, Smyth never met a pun he didn’t like, but it’s an entertaining read).

Silent but Deadly
Silent but Deadly
Kirsten Bell