“Back in 1999, I spent my gap year in Zimbabwe teaching in a very rural school. The village’s sole modern facility was the school’s flushing toilet, and my daily treat was a comfortable Western poo. One day, after 20 minutes on the pan, I rose to flush - only to discover the water wasn’t getting from cistern to bowl. After two minutes of tinkering, something plopped into the bowl. Pale green and about 5cm thick, it coiled round before rearing up, spraying a windolene-like mist at me. My arse puckered once more – it was a spitting cobra. I leapt back, but then came the Mexican standoff. I was terrified, but couldn’t leave the toilet in case the snake slid out towards the classrooms. Finally, after four petrifying minutes, another teacher arrived for his daily dump. I stood guard while he fetched a long stick and a bucket of water. I then trapped the snake against the bowl, while my colleague dumped gallons of water on it. Goodbye snake. Clearly when recounting it later, I was the hero. But after realising my backside had been inches from the world’s third most poisonous animal, I didn’t crap again for eight days. To this day I’m off the seat and out before the paper’s hit the bowl.”