This is perhaps a story that is a tad off my usual beaten path for blogging. It did however amuse me and so I can’t resist the temptation to share it. Beyond that, there is also a skeptical exercise here as well, and so ask yourself this as you read it – Is it real, and did this actually happen, or has it been staged as a stunt to raise some cash for charity?
I do have the definitive answer (at the end of this posting), but before we get to that, read on and see if you conclude if it is or is not real.
So here is the story.
On the 5th Sept (last Tuesday to be precise), Liam Smyth, a student in Bristol, started a GoFundMe page to help him raise £300 to replace a broken window. He explains in detail what happened, and even has pictures of it all. In his own words from that GoFundMe page here is what happened …
I recently took a girl I met on tinder to Nandos. We had a lovely evening, and enjoyed each others company very much. After our meal, we repaired back to my house for a bottle of wine and a scientology doccumentary.
About an hour in to Louis Theroux and chill, my date got up to use the toilet. She returned with a panicked look in her eye, and told me she had something to tell me.
“I went for a poo in your toilet”, she told me “and it would not flush. I don’t know why I did this, but I panicked”, she continued “I reached into the toilet bowl, wrapped it in tissue paper, and threw it out of the window”.
I was understandably concerned, and told her we would go outside, bag up the offending poo in the garden, bin it, and pretend the whole sorry affair had never happened. Unfortunately, owing to a design quirk of my house, the toilet window does not in fact open to the garden, but instead into a narrow gap of about a foot and a half, seperated from the outside world by another (non-opening) double glazed window. It was into this twilight zone that my date had thrown her poo. Here are two photos to illustrate:
(the offending package within the window)
As can be seen in the picture, the inside window opens at the top, into the gap that is seperated from the garden by a non-opening double-glazed window pane. Seeing only one solution, I messaged our house group-chat, and went upstairs to find a hammer and chisel to smash open the window.
My date had other ideas.
Being an amateur gymnast, she was convinced that she could reach into the window and pull the poo out, using the tried and tested “inside out blag as glove” technique. Unfortunately she couldn’t reach. She climbed further in and had the same problem. Eventually I agreed to give her a boost up and into the window. She climbed in head first after her own turd, reached deeper into the window, bagged it up, and passed it out, over the top and back into the toilet from whence it came. She called out to me to help her climb out from the window, I grabbed her waist and I pulled. But she was stuck. Stuck fast. Try as we might, we could not remove her from the window. She was stuck fast, upside down in the gap. Here is a picture to illustrate:
(My date, upside down in the window)
Unfortunately for my date, at this stage I could see only one way out of our predicament. She had been upside down in the window for around 15 minutes at this point, and I was starting to grow concerned for her health. I called the fire brigade.
Bristol’s finest were on scene sirens blairing in a matter of minutes. Once they had composed themselves after surveying the scene in front of them, they set to work removing my date from the window using all of their special firemen hammers and tools. It took them about 15 minutes. Here is a picture of them working:
(Easy does it)
Unfortunately, although they rescued my date unharmed from what must have been a rather unpleasant confined space to find yourself in, in the process they had to completely destroy the window with their special fire tools. I’m not complaining, they did what they had to do. Problem is, I’ve been quoted north of £300 to replace the window. As a postgraduate student, that is a significant chunk of my monthly budget (in fact, that is my monthly budget).
So I’m turning to the internet for help. If people could donate just a couple of pounds/dollars/yen/ruppee/North Korea Won to help me repair my (now broken) window I would be enternally greatful. If the window is not replaced my landlord may well kill me, so you would be literally helping to save a life.
Oh yeah, and if by some miracle I manage to raise more money through this page than the cost of the window, any remainder will be split 50/50 between two charities:
First, toilet twinning, a charity building and maintaining flushing toilets in the developing world. 60% of people worldwide don’t have access to a flushing toilet, which, when you think about it, really is pretty shit.
Seccond, to the firefighters charity. The guys who came to the house were brilliant, took everything in good humour, and profesional. This call out was pretty funny, but they do risk their lifes on a daily basis, and the firefighters charity provides financial, psychological and medical help to the brave men and women who risk their lives for us.
Thanks in advance gofundme!
As I post this, I note that he has raised £2,482 so far, and he has just posted the following update …
**UPDATE** Wow. We’ve raised over 10 times the orginial campaign ammount. That is truly amazing. Thank you so much to everybody who has donated. I am truly humbled. I never expected this campaign to get this big. This has been great for the charities, but it hasn’t been so great for me personally. I have already said all I am going to say on the matter, and any further requests for comment will be ignored. Thank you so much for your genorosity! I will be leaving this page up until Sunday Evening (GMT) if anyone else wants to donate, after which time 100% of the funds will be split between the two charities. Thankyou for all the interest, it’s been a truly humbling 24 hours. I now need to concentrate on my University studies, which have been poorly neglected over the last day. Thanks again, Liam x
So basically everything contributed is in effect a charity donation.
The Comments are of Course Inevitable
Well yes, who can resist the obvious, these are a sample …
Are you going on date ‘number 2’? Ahem…
Never mind date number two . It’s the turd one you should be working towards.
Hope the Poo of you find Happooness poogether.
love at first shite
… and as you might anticipate, the media were also all over it and reached out …
Did it really happen?
As I read, I had serious doubts. What are your thoughts at this point … real or staged?
While he does have pictures, it might simply have been staged and is just a charity GoFundMe. It not only feels a bit like an urban legend, but it is also quite close to a very similar story that popped up in 2016 (see here).
Since it does tick all the urban legend characteristics, it has gone viral in the media and so it has been popping up all over the place.
The classic urban legend about tossing poo out a window is as follows (via snopes) …
This guy lives in Westchester, NY and goes to school at Ithaca College. For two years, he has wanted to ask a certain girl (who is also from Westchester and also goes to Ithaca) out on a date, but has never had the courage. Finally, one day over the summer, he sees her at home and musters up the courage to ask her out. She accepts, and they make dinner plans for Saturday night.
Friday night, this guy goes out with all of his buddies, and drinks like Prohibition is coming back. Saturday, he is in such bad shape that he can’t make it through twenty minutes without either puking or shitting. After several hours of this, he is able to stop puking, but he is still running to the toilet every 20 minutes to shit. He doesn’t want to cancel the date, because he’s afraid he won’t ever talk to her again.
So they meet in Westchester, and take the train to New York City (about a 30 minute ride). They get to the restaurant, and he excuses himself during the appetizers to use the bathroom. They enjoy the rest of the appetizers without interruption, but he has to go back again during the entrees. They decide to get dessert. During dessert, our hero feels another rumbling, but doesn’t want to look like a complete bathroom freak, so he holds it. After a few minutes, the rumbling subsides, but he still has a bit of gas stored up. He decides to let this little bit of gas fly right there at the table (discreetly, of course). Unfortunately, this little bit of gas came with another little surprise. “Oh shit,” he thinks (and feels). Instead of running to the bathroom right away, our hero immediately leans on the arms of his chair to keep from sitting on this surprise. He maintains this yoga position for the rest of dessert, trying to figure out what to do before his tan pants (a) start to smell, or (b) start to show stains on the outside.
He quickly pays for dinner and they leave the restaurant. Oh, by the way, he is walking like a cowboy. On the way to the train station, they pass the Gap.
“Do you mind if I run in and buy a sweater that I was looking at last week?” he asks.
“No problem, I’d like to look around too,” she replies.
They go into the Gap. Fortunately, at the Gap, men’s fashions are on the right, women’s fashions are on the left. They split up. Our hero grabs the first sweater within reach, and hurries back to the khakis. After selecting a pair that most closely resemble his current outfit, he brings both items to the register. His eyes are on his date (still on the other side of the store) to make sure that she doesn’t see him buying the pants. He doesn’t even want the sweater, so he says through clenched teeth (just in case his date can read lips from 40 feet away) “Just the pants.”
“What?” asks the Gap girl.
“Just the pants!” (Eyes still trained on his date.)
Gap girl: “Oh, OK.”
He pays for the pants and walks over to his date, then they leave the store.
They board the train just before it leaves the station and find two seats in the middle of the car. Without sitting down, our hero excuses himself and walks to the bathroom in the back of the car. He gets to the bathroom as the train departs, and quickly rips off his pants and boxer shorts. He rolls them into a ball and throws them out the window. After cleaning himself off, he opens the Gap bag and pulls out…just the sweater.
****PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD DO IN THIS SITUATION.****
As you must have realized, the only solution is to wear the sweater as pants. So he squeezes his legs into the arms of the sweater and pulls the rest of the fabric tight around his waist. He can only keep himself covered by hunching over. Walking will be a new challenge altogether.
Rather than going through the absolute trauma of returning to his seat and explaining (or creating an elaborate lie to explain) the entire incident, our hero waits in the bathroom until the train stops at the next station. He waits until the moment the train starts to pull away from the station, then dashes out of the bathroom (as quickly as a hunched over cowboy with sweater pants can dash) and jumps off the train. He is lost and stranded somewhere between New York City and Westchester.
He hasn’t seen the girl since.
The above is a classic Urban Legend and often pops up as a supposedly true story, yet it is just an urban legend and no actual instance has been verified. You can also find yet another variation here. Additionally, something very similar was the plot of one episode of the UK sitcom The Worst Week of My Life
So back to Liam, is his a true story?
As I said, I had doubts, and yet I really wanted to perhaps think that life really has imitated art and that it did actually happen. It would appear that there really is a Liam Smyth in Bristol who is a student there on Twitter …
@louistheroux I'm not much of a twitter fan, but it's me in the story. Can you send a DM?
— Liam Smyth (@liamsmythy) September 5, 2017
OK, no more suspense, the time for the final reveal is here …
<insert drum roll here>
… the definitive answer is that it is indeed real and did happen as described. The Avon Fire and Rescue service have confirmed that they received a call and freed a woman trapped between external and double glazing, and that they had to break the window to free her …
Two crews from Green Watch at Temple Fire Station were called to the incident, among them was Firefighter Chris Crothers.
He explained: “When we arrived we weren’t really sure what to expect as the only information we had was that a lady had become trapped in a window. Although she wasn’t hurt she was well and truly stuck, with her face squashed against the glass.
“We often find when people are stuck they can start to panic very quickly so we do our best to keep them calm until we can free them.
“I started chatting to her and she told the whole story about how she had become stuck. She was quite open about the whole thing – I think by then she had gone passed the point of embarrassment!
“She was trapped in a void between internal and external glazing, but her weight was against the pane of glass so we had to be really careful during the rescue.
“To free her we removed beading around the edge of the glazing and then made sure we were supporting her as we carefully took out the pane of glass. Once the glass was out we gently lowered her to her feet.
“Although she had been upside down for some time, with the company of a few spiders, she was absolutely fine and just pleased to be free.
“We see strange things all the time, but this certainly has to be one of the strangest – purely because of why she was stuck.
“We told them they would be telling the story for the rest of their lives but I don’t think any of us expected the story to get the interest it has.”
Following the rescue, Liam Smyth who lives at the house, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to repair the damaged window. The page quickly became an internet hit https://www.gofundme.com/9wvxt9-replacement-window
Firefighter Crothers added: “It looks like Liam has now raised more than enough money to repair the window so we’re delighted to hear that The Fire Fighters’ Charity will also benefit from the extra money raised.”
Here is Liam himself telling the story to the BBC …
One more question …
Did love blossom or has their relationship gone down the pan?
“We had a lovely night on the second date but it’s too early to say if she’s the one. But we got on very very well and she’s a lovely girl, And we’ve already got the most difficult stuff out of the way first.”