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The enema within

Ian Belcher took some persuading to go on a colonic irrigation holiday, even at a Thai beach resort. It is, he discovered, quite astonishing what gets flushed out in the course of a week’s treatment. But did he feel the better for it?

When photographer Anthony Cullen heard the clank of glass on porcelain, he didn’t need to examine the contents of the toilet bowl between his legs. He instinctively knew he had just passed the marble he had swallowed as a five-year-old; the small coloured sphere – “I think it was a bluey” – had lodged in his colon for 22 years. His nonchalance was understandable. Having flushed 400 pints of coffee and vinegar solution around his large intestine through 10 enemas, and taken 100 herbal laxatives, he had become hardened to extraordinary sights. He had already excreted yards of long stringy mucus “with a strange yellow glaze”, several hard black pellets and numerous pieces of undigested rump steak. Like an iceberg breaking away from a glacier, the marble was simply the latest object to drop off the furred up wall of his colon.

Within 30 minutes it had become a burning topic of conversation among guests at The Spa resort on the Thai island of Koh Samui. Most listened, nodded earnestly and smiled, a flicker of mutual support, before describing their own bowel movements in unnervingly graphic detail. It was just another day at the tropical health farm where conversations that would be deemed unpleasant, if not obscene, in any place outside a gastro-intestinal ward, are mere idle chit-chat among the sun-soaked clientele.

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