Monday, August 30, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 7

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 29th August 2004

Caaaathunk! ….. ‘Ok’ ……. Cacccaathunk …. ‘Right’ …. Trrrrrk.k.kk.k..thuunk … ‘Hmmm’….. ‘lets try one more time’…… trrrrrratatatat.t.t…tt....caaaaaaaaathunk! ‘Oh for fu.... who thought this up eeeh? Eeehhh?’, ‘what fecking Muppet designed this hmmmm?’ Funnily enough I didn’t receive an answer, not a surprise really as it was just myself and the ironing board battling it out. I shook my head and mumbled ‘Only the bloody cheesemunchers could’ve designed this’ The board collapsed for the umpteenth time and I started to count to ten ……………

I paced round the room glaring at this glorified plank ‘You want to buck up your ideas laddy!’, ‘Hmmmm’, ‘You want get yourself a work ethic’ my stride gathered apace and I started smacking my fist into the palm of my hand ‘You want to fecking well stand on your own four feet sunshine!’ I stopped suddenly, leant over the prone board and stabbed it with my finger ‘don’t you dare look at me like that Oooodoyoufink yoooare eeeh eeeeh?I’ve seen stiffer lettuce than you!’ My nose was now touching the cotton cover and my cheeks had turned a deep crimson colour. A light covering of spittle gave the surface a mottled look ‘WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELL?’. The ironing board remained stony faced throughout the tirade.

In the absence of a magic levitation spell I elected to kick the ironing board into submission. This was 100% successful in all but two aspects. Firstly I wasn’t wearing any shoes so succeeded in breaking three toes and two fingers. I broke the fingers when I punched the wall for being so stupid as to kick something metal with bare feet (whereas punching a solid wall with my bare hand was clearly a work of genius)

I did eventually brutalise this household item into an upright position and managed to iron my shirt. It was at this point I encountered the second flaw in my otherwise fine plan. How do I get the fecker down again? My psychotic attack had left the metal pretty mangled and the previously brilliant white enamel was looking slightly worse for wear. The ingenious Dutch mechanism that had originally refused to stay in place was now wedged solidly.

As I pondered my next move there was a knock on the door ‘Room Service Mr Shanks!’, ‘Oh shi…… yes what is it?’, ‘Have you finished with the ironing board? Another resident wants it’, ‘buggery buggery bollocks eh not quite, can you give me another ten minutes?’, ‘Very well sir but you have had it for three hours already……..’

Some quick thinking was required ……. hmmm ….. the minutes raced past as I feverishly tried to think of a plausible excuse. Nobody was going to believe it had been stolen and woefully poor as that excuse was, it was my best I could come up with. Time was nearly up, I could hear footsteps approaching ‘Oh bugger!’ A light breeze wafted in the open window making the net curtain rustle, I had a flash of inspiration……………

Knock knock ‘Mr Shanks it’s room service …...’, ‘Mr Shanks?’ knock knock ……… As there was no answer she decided to let herself in with her pass key ‘OH MY DEAR GOD!’ My brilliant idea of throwing the ironing board out the window had gone slightly awry. Unfortunately in the process of disposing of the evidence I had tripped over one of the mangled legs and the mutilated equipment had ultimately gained it’s revenge.

The sight of an unconscious half dressed man apparently collapsed in the midst of humping a piece of hotel property was too much for her and she fainted. I suppose the crumpled kilt, which was now nestling around my ears was the final straw ……..

The hotel were quite understanding though and they allowed me thirty seconds to clear my room and ‘Get the hell out of zish Hotel you Shcotsh pervert’ Thankfully the youth hostel were not as picky about their clientele.

The wedding was excellent, Allan was a typical, extremely happy but slightly nervous groom. Sanne was looking ravishing in an ivory wedding dress with all those funny veily fiddly bits that girls seem to like. And I looked like a tramp that had slept in a kilt. I think the large purple bruise I was sporting on my left temple finished the look off nicely. I managed to find a space at the back of the room and remained out of sight until the ceremony was over.

Dutch wedding receptions are slightly different from Scots ones in that they usually involve a free bar (a fiscally suicidal idea in Scotland) this is because the cloggies are a civilised people who can have a few ‘social’ beers. They do not feel that the quintessential nature of a sociable drink is captured in the inability to control your legs, bladder and stomach or garnishing the pavement with partly digested fast food.

Allan must have been saving for years to pay the bar bill. In our particular group weddings have always been extremely noisy, alcoholic affairs that went on into the early hours of the morning. There is much singing and dancing to the popular music of the day and enormous hangovers are ‘cured’ by simply starting drinking again the next day. Allan needn’t have worried though ……… Babies! ……. Fousands of em!

Everywhere you looked there were pushchairs, rattles, changing bags, bottles and prams. Normally sensible and coherent adults going ‘cootchee cootchee coo’, ‘Ooowwaaaah wubah wubah oooohaaaahhhh hee hee’, ‘Ooosaahh wee monkey then yeesyoooare yeeeesyooooooareee’ There was more sense coming out of the bairns mouths. I’m afraid I have to admit that despite being a former child myself I’m not very good with kids, I never know what to do. My friend John dumped his bairn Joe on ‘Uncle Hams’ lap and I clutched him like an unexploded bomb.

I thought perhaps I better chat ‘Eeer so Joe are you a friend of the bride or groom?’ L’ill Joe just burbled, grinned and attempted to chew one of my fingers ‘Ooookay’, ‘What line of work are you in?’, ‘Waammmbulaa’, ‘Uhhu that’s nice and what football team do you support?’, ‘Goofuummmb’, I was getting very concerned now ‘JOHN JOHN!!!!’, ‘What’s wrong?’, ‘It’s Joe he cant seem to speak, he’s just mumbling incoherently!’, ‘He’s 5 months old you divvy!’, ‘What and he cant speak?, is he thick or is he just not tryi..ooomppfff

Apparently parents can be very sensitive when it comes to their kids…..


n.b. No children were harmed during the writing of this diary, I got a kicking two or three times but the bairns were all perfectly well behaved wee cuties.

Monday, August 23, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 6

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary – w/e 22nd August 04

‘Limper!’, ‘I beg your pardon?’, ‘Make it Limper …. Your too stiff!’, I was turning a deep pink colour ‘It’s not my fault, sometimes it just happens’ I mumbled ‘Well sort it out for goodness sake!’ now I was crimson, rapidly heading for purple ‘s’not my fault’ I pleaded ‘I mean you can be on a bus or in a meeting and wahay it’s there and then when you need the old fella he’s nowhere to be seen ….’ There was a long silent pause, Katy was glaring at me ‘What the bloody hell are you talking about?’, ‘eeer dunno what are you talking about?’, ‘Your wrist! You cant hold the table tennis bat with a stiff wrist’, ‘Oooooh wriiiiist right right right, gotcha, absolutely, limp it is’, ‘What on earth did you think I meant?’ ‘Oh nothing’……………

Racketlon a game of two half’s …… or more correctly four sports. A game of table tennis, followed by a game of squash, followed by a game of badminton and finished with a game of tennis (or in my case a heart attack) Last week in a heightened state of delusion I ‘accidentally’ entered the racketlon world championships. Thankfully they have a ‘duffer’ category but I still felt my table tennis could do with some work (in light of never having played the sport before) hence the table tennis lesson.

Turns out table tennis is not as easy as it looks, which is a real shame as it already looks fecking difficult to me. Apart from the ‘gay wrist’ grip there’s a whole world of confusion when it comes to rubbers (don’t panic Church goers this bit isn’t rude …. Hmm probably a tad late to worry about offending the Kirk now) The rubbers on the table tennis bat are very important ……… apparently.

Katy explained it all ‘You see you can have different rubbers to generate different levels of spin and some rubbers that will negate your opponents spin altogether’ ’Uhuu, mmm, uhuu, mmm I see’ this went on for about twenty minutes ‘So any questions on rubbers?’, ‘No but I do have one question’, ‘Yes?’, ‘……… what’s spin?

Spin, it turns out, is something you can’t get when you’re smacking someone in the face with a TT bat …….. that’s bruised …. Or bloodied …. Or beaten, but not spun! (although it wasn’t for a lack of effort on Katy’s behalf) Another seven forehand smashes to the puss and my ‘coach’ decided to call it a day ‘Okay’ thump ‘that’s a good workout’ wallop ‘hit the showers’ smack! ‘fanksverymuuoooooommppff

Sunday was a lovely day so I decided to get out to the hills, it seemed a safer proposition than my intended tennis lesson with Katy. I was still smarting from the previous day’s TT and I shudder to think the damage a full sized tennis racket could inflict. I also love the great outdoors, I love the freedom and the solitude, I love the fresh air and the wild plants, the flowers, the berries, the mushrooms - that’s organic!.

Ben Lomond was the challenge for the day. Scotland’s most southerly Munro and famed for it’s wildlife and fantastic views over the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond. I’d never done this hill before so I was particularly excited. My excitement did wane slightly when I was nearly run off the road by a German tourist in a gigantic camper van. He seemed slightly confused as to which side of the road to drive on so elected to use both, I quickly decided some impromptu off roading was called for. In the spirit of forgiveness I did manage to shout ‘Who won the war anyway!’ before his panzer campervan shunted me into the trees.

I managed to nurse my dented jalopy to the forestry car park ‘Fecking tourists’ I grumbled as I removed the last of the pine branches from my back seat. I retrieved my day sack and set off up the hill.

The sun was already high in the sky as I stopped to fish out my sunglasses and put some sun cream on the baldy heid. As I leant over my pack I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Something small and furry scurried behind a large rock, it was too big for a rat but too small for a fox. ‘What the bloody he…’ I decided to follow. I crept up to the rock and peered over the top, not a thing to be seen, however a rustling of the heather indicated the beast was on the move …. Let the hunt begin!

It was a canny beast whatever it was, sometimes I could hear it scuttling away, occasionally a tantalising glimpse of a leg or a bit of tail, never the whole animal. Then just as I was losing hope I spotted it soaking up the sun on a small rocky plinth. I stared slack jawed, it couldn’t be, dear god. I fished out my camera this was my chance …….

I studied the ground carefully before taking another tentative step, the heather was sparser here but nevertheless I didn’t want to alert my quarry by carelessly stepping on some crackly old foliage. My luck was in, a light breeze caressed my face, carrying my tell tale scent away from the target. I couldn’t believe it was happening, it was all a crazy dream. Four hours of patient stalking to get this close and now I was within touching distance and breathing fast. I was going to be the first to get a photograph, I’d be rich, I’d be famous, I’d be invited to all the top parties, I’d have hot and cold running women, I’d be popular! Oh yes, yes, yes, Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!

Then the fickle hand of fate intervened with a metaphoric kick in the spuds. In this case an angry wasp would do the work of a size ten hob nailed. The insect in question having just departed from a particularly fragrant bloom was less than amused to be lost inside the left leg of my shorts. Rather than fly down towards the bright afternoon light and ultimate freedom it elected to head further north and into the gathering darkness that contained my nether regions. When it finally snagged itself in the ‘climb-a-dry’ aerated and above all ‘perforated’ lining of my shorts it decided that a stinging frenzy was called for ‘Oooohyaaaaffffnnnnbaaaaaaaaaassss

It ‘s a shame there wasn’t a high jump bar nearby because I must have leapt 12 feet in the air! Clearly Olympic success does not require natural ability or years of dedicated training. Nor does it require close attention to diet or nutritional supplements. Forget risking a ban with EPO, anabolic steroids and other illegal drugs. Simply take an empty matchbox, insert a wasp, shake vigorously then pop the matchbox down the front of your shorts and open at your leisure! It’s always the simple solutions ………..

Unfortunately my medal-winning leap went unrecorded and my intended prey was off like a rocket. So much for the first recorded photograph of a haggis in the wild. Never one to get down though I settled down with another mug of my wild mushroom tea and watched the enormous yellow giraffes driving their double decker buses up the side of Ben Lomond……………….


Monday, August 16, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 5

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 15th August 2004

Baking sunshine, blue skies, mid to high 20’s and I’m in Scotland Shockarooney! And an even bigger shocker it’s been like this two weekends in a row! Ok so it rained so heavily in between that people have been putting their houses on stilts, building Arks and a mudslide closed the A9. But hey, who cares as long as it’s sunny at the weekend – woo hoo!

The insect population also appreciate the glorious weather. Limitless solar energy allows beasties that we never even knew had wings to release the surly bonds of earth. Big old ground beetles sprout huge colourful wings and lumber into the air like B52 bombers. Bees swarm excitedly, workers busily searching for the next hotspot to start a colony, location, location location! Mayflies use this energy to ‘get it oooon and get jiggy’. The skies are black with insects and if they aint flying their shagging!

Of course as soon as the sun dips behind a cloud it’s panic stations all round. The amorous male Mayflies are suddenly limper than wet biscuits. The females console them with phrases like ‘there there, we’ll try again later when it’s a bit sunnier’ and ‘I’m sure it’s perfectly normal’, ‘I bet it happens to all the other flies’ as they edge slowly away making small wing gestures. For the ground beetle there’s more than a lack of viagra to worry about, the sudden drop in solar energy means they now possesses all the grace, poise and aerodynamic qualities of a brick. The surly bonds of earth snigger ‘come to papa’ as gravity ensures they claim their own.

Wasps also enjoy the hot weather, these skinheads of the insect world bustle about the countryside pushing ladybirds into ponds, noising up the ants and generally ‘putting it abaut’ Nothing scares a wasp, a mere lack of sunlight doesn’t bother a wasp, he’ll sting ye in the dark just for a laugh, he’s well ‘ard. So you can imagine my horror when driving along the road (with windows wide open) my wing mirror smacked into a group of wasps roughing up a bumblebee. Three wasps were killed outright but the fourth pirouetted in the window and down the front of my shirt. I have to admit that I panicked slightly …. Ok I panicked a lot! In fact anyone travelling behind me might have described my driving as ‘erratic’. It’s not easy trying to stop your car, remove your shirt and kill a wasp at the same time – I managed all three AND I also soiled myself in the process, who says men cant multitask!

Luckily I had a change of clothes as I was in transit to a volleyball tournament in Banchory. I quickly changed and deposited my old garments in a roadside bin (they were beyond the help of ‘vanish’ or any other proprietary stain digester) With a bit of luck I’d still make it in time for the start and indeed when I arrived the nets were still being erected.

I spotted the Isla crown near the BBQ and I approached cautiously, I hadn’t spoken to Kenny since the Perth volleyball tournament where he and I hadn’t quite hit it off. I had been coaching the side and we’d had a … ‘professional disagreement’ If you define a professional disagreement as me not giving him any games and him frothing a lot and attacking the traffic cone I’d substituted in his place! Suffice to say this incident had left relations ‘strained’.

They were all standing in a circle as I approached ‘Alright boys and girls, how’s it going?’, ‘Alright Ham, how’s things’ I chatted away for a few minutes renewing acquaintances and chewing the fat. Everybody appeared in good spirits and the craic was excellent. Kenny must have been keeping a low profile as he was nowhere in sight. This suited me fine as I was in no hurry to break the ice.

Isla Volleyball Club are a bit of a democracy when it comes to coaching and they tend to rotate this responsibility at most events, hence the reason I’d had a bash in Perth. ‘So who’s coaching today then?’ I enquired ….. there was an awkward silence ….. ‘What? c’mon who’s the lucky one?’ everyone was looking at their shoes or having a lengthy examination of their fingernails ‘c’mon, who’s running the show today?' I noticed they were now all looking behind me. I felt a tap tap tap on my shoulder and with a sinking feeling I slowly turned round ……....‘I am’ said Kenny …. ‘Oh Fu….

‘Shut your mouth you orrible little man! There’s only two things that comes out of Ellon (my hometown) Puffs or Hermerseksuaaals, which are you boy?’, ‘Eeer aren’t they the sam….ooomfff’, ‘drop and give me twenty boy!!’, ‘Twenty wha..oooompff’, ‘You will not speak until yoos is spoken to my lovely lad’, ‘I is going to turns you into a volleyball player, oh yes I ams’, ‘Is this anything to do with Peraaarrgghhhh’, ‘Shut up shut up shut up SHUT UUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!’

A couple of things suggested Kenny wasn’t in the mood for a ‘chat’ about Perth, it may have been the fiercely pulsating vein on his forehead, or perhaps the fetching crimson colour he was turning, either way this was clearly not the time to ‘thrash things out’ Although coincidently it was time for Kenny to thrash me with a length of two by four! I took the opportunity to pass out ……

When I awoke I was spread-eagled and staked out on the ground. Kenny was crouched over me, stripped to the waist (upwards thankfully) his face was covered in camouflage paint and he was sporting a Tam ‘o’ Shanter bunnet. I was about to ask why I was not playing in the first game when he started whooping ‘I luuuuuv the smell of turps in the morning wooo eeeeeei’, ‘Eeer that’s nice Kenn.ooomf’, ‘Shut up Charlie!’, ‘But my names not Charlie it’s Haaoommpf', ‘You gonna play ball Charlie?’, ‘Well if you mean volleyball then ye..ooommpppf’, ‘Yoo ah real slow learner aint you boy’, ‘Well I did get 7 o-levels but my I’ll admit my teachers did think I could haveooompff’, ‘Ah’m gonna have to teach you a lesson son’, ‘Well my spanish isnt that great and I could really do with brushing up on my physics’ Last thing I saw was a rapidly approaching fist and this seemed as good a point as any to have another ‘nap’

I’m not sure what the final result was, we were two points ahead and Kenny’s coaching really did seem to be paying dividends. Well right up until they got the straight jacket on, it all got a tad unseemly after that.

Roll on Perth 2005 ……………………


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