An Unpainted Portrait; Ah, nuts, or The Importance of Uplifting Support

Leo Simmons


Ah, nuts.


The Importance of Uplifting Support

On the morning of the big parade, the sun was doing its best as the senior intake prepared to spend their last half-day on campus. On this most special of occasions for them, we were also very much part of the show. The crowd had gathered, the snooty VIP in place. We waited out of sight for our big moment. The music rang out: it was time. Left-right, left-right; we double-marched on the spot to get the rhythm as the leaders set off. And at that precise moment, the universe played its devilish hand. The already feeble elastic in my underpants had chosen this precise moment to entirely give up the ghost, leaving my undercarriage entirely unsupported. On we jogged, and all fell quiet as, according to the plan, I was the last to pit-a-pat to my designated point and as the last moving person, the crowd’s attention was upon me. I stopped directly in front of a very familiar, haughty nose raised several degrees above horizontal. Two dark and piggy eyes peered over the impressive, brandy-enhanced proboscis. He peered at me with bored disdain. Little did the great man know of the burgeoning disaster in my working-class, catastrophically unsupported loins. All he saw was a young man wearing voluminous shorts and a pained expression.

The brief introductory speech crackled through the ancient public address system, giving me way too much time to ponder the situation. Suddenly, a whistle peeped. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I jumped into the stand-at-ease position, and then as the music started, a star. I briefly wondered how often this scenario was played out within the Home Secretary’s parliamentary office. Prompted by this sudden activity, my testicles unceremoniously popped out of my undies. Reminder: I was three metres in front of the Home Secretary. Now, I don’t know if he could see my tender components waving about (that sounds a bit boastful; it was more like a wiggle) or maybe he was unmoved by such sights, but he made no outward sign of having noticed. I think he probably would have been unable to pass it off if my genitals had indeed made their presence known, but the mark of greatness is the ability to deal with anything with aplomb. I felt like I was on open display, and I was utterly devoid of aplomb. Of all the things I had planned for my life, waving my unsupported naughty bits at the third most powerful person in the realm had never been on the list. The sweat rolled down my face and mingled with tears streaming from my eyes. I knew what awaited us.

Having been thoroughly trained, regardless of my discomfort I refrained from shoving my hands down the front of my shorts and making vital adjustments. Instead, I began to lead the group in the much-practised series of vigorous exercises. I don’t mind telling you, I suffered for my poor choice of undergarments. I went through our entire jumpy, jerky, swingy routine utterly devoid of what any reasonable person might consider to be adequate support. As salty water streamed down my face, those most sensitive of parts banged and crashed into one another and the inside of my thighs (again, that sounds boastful, but not so: I had big thighs).

My mind wasn’t, however, only dwelling upon my suffering. I felt sorry, too, for my poor colleagues, who were supposed to be watching my every move. While everyone knew the routine by heart, they still had to make sure that they took their timing from yours truly. As we hovered for a few moments in the press-up position, for example, I was acutely aware that my wares (such as they were) were probably visible. Attracted inexorably towards the most massive object in the vicinity, they tried to touch the surface of the planet before any other part of my anatomy. Stars appeared, flashes of light streaked across my vision and nausea reared its ugly head as my undercarriage clattered around inside the aircraft hangar that was my (ridiculous) pair of shorts. As well as the physical discomfort, I was ravaged by the anguish brought on by the feeling that ‘everything’ was almost definitely on view to at least some of the unsuspecting relatives of colleagues. They didn’t deserve such treatment.

Minutes of sweaty, jerky and bouncy exercises passed slower than time has ever passed before. Trust me on this. I checked with Stephen Hawking: it’s a well-known scientific principle that free-swinging testicles have a direct effect upon the linear nature of the space/time continuum. The angle of dangle has an inverse relationship to the speed at which time passes. Or so it seemed. Once the exercises were complete, and when the glorious, beautiful note of the final whistle blew, I felt like I had two red hot and dreadfully swollen bowling balls clanking around down there. Surely, I thought, they were visible to the assembled masses. With relief throbbing through my system, I hobbled off the square with my teammates.

Almost as nonchalantly as we had left, our specially selected teams of twenty-four hunks – identified by copious band-aids and interesting collections of bruises – returned to the parade square carrying the garishly painted logs. I was thankful to have had the opportunity, in the form of a frantic, trembling rearrangement of the affected parts, to ensure that my throbbing crown jewels were not, after all, halfway down each thigh. Out of view, that was, until I performed any energetic manoeuvres involving bending over. Unfortunately, I was about to do exactly that. The throwing and catching of the logs commenced to the muted gasps of the crowd. Amazement or puzzlement, it was hard to tell. In the back of my mind was the particular danger of the final, thrilling ‘race’ exercise, where we bent over (!), pushed the pole backwards between our legs. While we did so, the person at the front of the line ran to the back to catch it as it emerged from the tunnel, so to speak. After each of us had our turn, we raised the pole upright for our ‘monkey’ to climb. I wasn’t relishing the prospect.

After we’d thrown, caught, spun, lifted and tumbled the poles to the obvious bemusement of the watching members of the public, the moment came for our little competition. As we prepared to bend over in a line and shuffle the poles between our legs, I shot a proactive apology over my shoulder to the poor soul immediately behind me. He said nothing, although I could have sworn that I heard a muffled cry of alarm. When my ‘turn’ to run to the back of the line arrived, I did so painfully and realised too late that for a few seconds at least, my shortcomings would be pointed at one hapless section of the crowd. Less spectacle and more testicle, I mused. I grimaced in the knowledge that someone would surely notice my condition. Thankfully, there were no screams, no sounds of unconscious bodies hitting the ground. It seemed likely, too, that there was nobody with medical training in the audience, or else they would surely have elbowed their neighbours aside and rushed to my aid.

As the race finally concluded and we watched our ‘monkey’ climb the splintery pole, I was left reflecting, as I looked up at his scrambling hairy legs – and inevitably, his underwear – that it was a very good thing for all concerned that it was he and not I who was up there.