The most terrifying pee I’ve ever done (+ a review of Laura Belgray’s memoir)

A couple of months ago, I had one of those moments where you have to sit yourself down and give yourself a talking to.

“MARSHA.” I said to myself. “You are a FORTY-SIX YEAR OLD WOMAN. With a reasonably successful career. From the outside, it looks like you have a WILDLY successful career. People like you! They find you charming! Stop responding to this situation like you’re in your twenties with zero life experience!!”

When I was in my twenties, I was working as a radio DJ. This meant I spent a lot of time at radio, comedy and music industry events. There were conferences, where the heads of the stations would be schmoozing. There were late-night stand up gigs where That One Off The Telly would be stood at the bar. Then there were the music gig aftershows, where the indie band of the moment would be hanging out, being fawned over by anyone that managed to get into the party.

I hated all of those events.

I mean, sometimes I loved some of them. But mostly I just felt totally stressed out. Trying to talk to the exec, the comic or the band — even if I knew them! Even when we were old friends from before they got famous! — was a matter of hovering a few feet away, waiting until it was your turn to be spoken to, and always feeling like a fangirl. But equally, not trying to talk to them felt like wasting an opportunity. Arg!

My second career — as a Storytelling coach and trainer — has been mostly online. This has meant almost ZERO stressful events like this, other than industry conferences where, usually, I’m one of the speakers myself. But last month, I was faced with the same feeling as in my twenties:

I was going to New York to the launch of my friend Laura Belgray’s (excellent, extremely funny and surprisingly moving) memoir, Tough T*tties: On Living Your Best Life When You’re the F-ing Worst (I’ll give you my review after I’m done this story). Belgray and I met, weirdly, on Periscope (remember Periscope?????)(if you don’t, it was Facebook Live before Facebook did Facebook Live, and honestly, you missed nothing). She and I made friends after she’d said something in a comment on one of my broadcasts, about struggling to find good underwear for the Larger Of Bosom. In response, I did a private Periscope broadcast just for her, where I toured all my best bras (if I ever get super-famous, I’m sure someone will hack the mainframe and leak this online. Something to look forward to!).

As you might suspect if you read her hilarious newsletter, Belgray is an absolute DELIGHT of a human. She is also friends with some of the gods of the online coaching industry. Many of whom were going to be at this fancy party one of them was throwing to celebrate her book launch.

And the thing is, I’m not even in that industry very much anymore! Most of my work these days is with organisations and companies. While I love the work of many of those famous-online women, I have no desire to have their careers. It’s just that… I’m not GOOD around famous people.

I wish I was. I long to be cool enough to be like, “Um, they’re just people? Stop being so weird.” But I can’t. I can’t think like that, and I can’t stop being weird. And even though Laura herself *explicitly states* in her [again, EXCELLENT] memoir that she is the same around famous people… this knowledge did not ease my flashbacks to those East London aftershows.

The night of the party, that pep talk I gave myself is working pretty well. Standing in the beautiful co-working space, I’m having some nice chats. I’m doing my thing where I randomly introduce myself to people [and pretend to feel confident about doing this, even as I’m mostly secretly worried they’ll reject me], then asking interested questions to find common ground. I’m even making new friends. In fact, I’m doing such a good job at all these things, that I leave it too long to go and pee, and suddenly I’m desperate.

There’s one washroom. The door is right by the bar, so I go over. As I’m waiting for the previous occupant to leave, I see Marisa Corcoran — the organiser of the party. I wasn’t familiar with her before, but I assume is one of those famous-online people because she is not only extremely warm and charming, she also GLOWS in a way I’ve only ever seen in the aura of pop stars, TV hosts and the odd Hollywood actor who’d show up at one of the aftershows of my youth. She’s looking around for a space to set up for the Q&A with Laura. They are going to be sitting right outside the washroom. Just as I’m about to go in.

I start to calculate. How long is it going to take them to set up? Probably not that long. Can I hold my pee in until they’re done? Not without deep discomfort and a possible UTI. Just as I’m turning this over in my head, the bathroom door opens, and I slip inside…

…just in time to hear Marissa saying, into the microphone, “Ok, everyone, come over! We’re going to have a talk to Laura!”

I sit on the toilet and FORCE my pee out.

As soon as I’m done, a new fear: how loud is the toilet flush???? When the previous occupant was in there, her flushing was masked by the multiple, loud, simultaneous conversations in the cavernous venue space. But now, the only sound outside is Marissa talking on the microphone about Laura’s book, while everyone listens in silence.

Can I not flush then slip out? No, too gross.

So, taking a deep breath, I press the lever…

…and hear a CACOPHONY!

The pipes are SCREAMING!!

I immediately panic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then, just as quickly, I hear the sound recede… into gentle claps and whoops.

It wasn’t coming from the toilet. I just happened to press the flush at the exact moment that Marissa introduced Laura and the crowd went wild.

Laughing, I wash my hands, slip out of the door (in a way that I hope is not too conspicuous), then spend the next 15 minutes laughing along as Laura talks about why she decided to write this book, what was and wasn’t hard about it, and how Times Square wouldn’t allow a billboard with the title. She (of course) has us all in stitches.

I knew that Tough T*tties (word starred to get by your spam filters) would be funny — and it is. What I didn’t expect was that I would cry quite as much as I did. I wasn’t crying because the book is sad, or moving in a way that makes you weep. When reading it, I cried (several times, copiously) with relief. Laura does such a good job of showing you the ways she hasn’t won in life at every turn. Whether it was her not getting around to taking opportunities that were dangling in front of her, or having absolutely disastrous romantic relationships, reading her stories and takes on life made me feel so much better about almost all of my life choices (which, as with hers, have often been NOT CHOOSING ANYTHING).

The other day, I was listening to an interview with a massively accomplished showrunner from a huge tv show, when he said something which revealed that he and I are close in age. My first instinct was to start berating myself — “he’s achieved THIS at your age! And you’ve achieved what, exactly?????” But before I could finish the thought, a little Belgray appeared in my head, referring to her friend’s college boyfriend, who used to send multiple job applications out every day. “Ah,” I thought. “That showrunner must have The Post Office Gene. You don’t. That’s ok.”

And my GODS is her writing funny. No book has EVER made me laugh as much as Tough T*tties has. I averaged around two literal laugh out louds per page. I had to be careful where I read it — on the plane on the way home, I kept having to press my mouth together and shake so that I could laugh without alarming my neighbour. I once laughed so hard I woke up my kid. I’m also fairly certain I woke up my neighbour. While it hasn’t quite yet made me pee myself, I’ve got close. If it ever happens on a re-read, I just hope I’m near a toilet [with a quiet flush].



I’ve decided that, from now on, when I tell stories, I should start throwing one of these in for you. Here’s today’s:

Let us know the stakes.

I have heard SO many good stories ruined because I wasn’t told the stakes. I wasn’t set up to know how I should feel when The Big Incident happens. Not just funny/silly stories; I’ve heard numerous stories where someone is telling a story on stage about a death in their family, but if they haven’t told me in advance what their relationship with that person is — or, in many cases, if they haven’t even mentioned that the person who died exists at all! — it’s hard for me to feel the way they’re hoping I’ll feel as I listen to them.

In my story above, it’s pretty funny that I thought the massive cheer was the flush. It’s funnier that I thought this at a moment when I was self-conscious about going to the bathroom in front of a massive party full of people. But when you know that I’d been nervous about going to the party at all, you can really understand why I was so mortified — and hopefully feel some of that, along with the [if I may,] gush of relief I felt afterwards.

Let us know the stakes and we’ll enjoy your story more!

Also, buy Laura’s book (but only if you’re ok with risking laughing out loud anytime you read it in public). You can find all links to buy it here:

My question for you:

Best toilet story? Everyone has one. Let me know yours in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading! If you know anyone who has a good pee story and would enjoy this, you can share it with them by pressing one of those round buttons below. And if you’d like more stories in your inbox, along with tips and advice for how to Be Unforgettable AND my free guide to the magic bullet for captivating storytelling, come and join the Yes Yes Family. Just pop your details in below and I’ll ship it over*:

*you can unsubscribe whenever you like because, clearly, I am not the boss of you

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS if you enjoyed this story, I’d love you to consider showing your thanks by taking a look at this. My dear friend Jess Manuszak has been told there’s a 1 in 10 chance she’ll DIE if she doesn’t get life-changing [and, because: USA, very expensive] surgery. She’s also a BRILLIANTLY funny writer, so it’s worth taking a look to read what she’s written about it alone:

Two women with brown hair have their arms around each other and they're smiling. One is holding a book called Tough Titties


  • Elyse Sparkes

    Reply Reply August 31, 2023

    You know I love ANY story about peeing, ha, so this one definitely won me over. But it was also the oh-so-relatable party anxiety, comparison of success, and meeting celebrity types that hooked me in and had me nodding along. Plus I also laughed through Tough Titties!!

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