It's official: I am a member of this great nation's Intelligentsia (with a capital 'I'). I have had a letter published in the London Review of Books (my butler doesn't read it):

Darwin's Flatulence

Steven Shapin writes that Darwin's uncontrollable retching and farting seriously limited his public life (LRB, 30 June). Some years ago, to my delight, I worked out that the great man's full name, Charles Robert Darwin, is an anagram of 'rectal winds abhorrer'. Unfortunately for my anagram, the meanings of words, like species, can evolve. On the rare occasions that Darwin mentioned his problems to friends, he always used the word 'flatulence'. Nowadays, we think of flatulence as being synonymous with farting, but in Darwin's day it meant (as it technically still does) an accumulation of gases in the alimentary canal. While I'm sure that Darwin must have vented his excess gas one way or the other, there's no reason to believe that his farts were uncontrollable.

Richard Carter
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

And, if that were not proof enough of the enormousness of my intellectual magnitude, my letter has also been reproduced in full by that other British bastion of clotted nonsense brain-fodder, Hooting Yard.

[Note how I cleverly avoided the common mistake of using the word enormity to signify something very enormous in that last sentence. As a member of the Intelligentsia, I would never commit such a faux pas. If you'll pardon my French.]

See also: Previous intellectual Gruts pieces about farts »

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. I believe one of the burdens a member of the intelligentsia must bear in this country is for one's French never to be pardoned.

  2. Even as I type this, I am genuflecting in the direction of Hebden Bridge. I presume that just leaves you with the aspiartaion of having something published in the "Letterbocks" section of Viz.

  3. Speaking of high-brow, I think it's time we again demanded the picture of young master Carter as an Oompa Loompa.

    My daughter is to be an Oompa Loompa next weekend and clearly she needs to see how it should be done. Or something.

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