Sunday, October 24, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 15

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 24th October 2004

‘Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home oooooo aaaahh’ If only it were true. Just the other day I attempted to test this hypothesis by laying my hat on the front door of a four bedroom detached bungalow. The current owner did not accede to my annexing of his property. In fact he was most insistent that it wasn’t my home, to the point I may say of punching me in the face several times and telling me to ‘sling my hook’. In future I shall refrain from following the philosophy of 80’s pop stars.

Evidently marking my territory with a hat just wasn’t feasible and I was thoroughly fed up of renting. There was no alternative; I was going to have to buy a house. Being a housing virgin I definitely needed some sound advice. Time for a trip to an ‘Independent Financial Advisor’ ……. oh joy

I’d received a letter telling me what items to take to my meeting with the mortgage advisor, the usual stuff; P60, 3 months wage slips, Bank Statements, Plain Brown envelope stuffed with 500 in used notes, passport and/or driving licence.

My advisor was a genial young man who took me through all the different kinds of mortgages available on the market, the pros and cons of blah blah blah and the reasons why you don’t want yaah de yah yahh (I’m good with financial stuff you can tell) Basically I just nodded my head at random intervals and waited till he stopped talking.

Apparently I’d agreed to apply for a capital indemnity go faster endowment tracker mortgage with a fixed rate 10-year tie in option. After which I’m free to keech myself when interest rates go through the roof, get my house repossessed, lose my job and watch my girlfriend (if I have one) run off with the milkman. None of which the advisor can be held responsible for …… which is nice.

Ok Mr Shanks we’ll just run your details through the computer and we should have a decision on a few seconds’ he tapped a few more keys then clicked on the mouse. We both stared at the revolving egg timer and waited… and we waited… and we (wait for it)…. waited. After half an hour I was beginning to suspect my application was going to be unsuccessful. My new best pal was looking a wee bit hot under the collar. He’d been rummaging in his briefcase for fully 10 minutes and now I could see patches of sweat appearing around the oxsters of his pristinely ironed shirt.

Coffee Mr Shanks?’ he asked for the umpteenth time ‘No I still don’t want a coffee and before you ask no I don’t want a tea. Neither do I require a game of I spy’ My shortness ensured that the next twenty minutes were filled with an embarrassed silence broken only by the occasional tap tap tapping of his pen or the slap slap slapping of my hand persuading him to stop drumming his pen on the desk. Surprisingly enough, and despite my assault, it was approved! Woo Hoo! - Now to find a house. How hard can it be? ….. aha ha ha haaaaa

There’s lies, there’s damm lies and there are estate agents.

‘A well proportioned two bed roomed ground floor flat enjoying a fine and convenient setting’ Let’s start at the beginning shall we. This flat was only ‘well proportioned’ if you were Bilbo Baggins or ‘Wee Man’ from Jackass. The schedule continued with ‘Slight modernisation may be preferred although the property enjoys the benefits of a recently installed gas fired central heating system’

Hmmm ‘slight’ modernisation, I’ve seen caves with more amenities and less damp. The rising damp was so high I needed wellies and what they failed to mention was the gas fired central heating had been installed next door. The only way you’d get any benefit from that is if you nipped round to borrow a cup of sugar. Although to be fair the wall that backed on to the neighbours flat was slightly less damp and the tadpoles could only swim half way up.

In the estate agents defence he did ‘make me aware’ there was a damp problem. I was wading about the lounge when he paddled through from the kitchen to wave a survey form at me ‘Were getting a full structural survey done’ he panted while trying to maintain position in the strengthening tide ‘We will let you know the outcome’ were the last words I heard as the current drew him back into the kitchen. On to the next property methinks.

‘A well presented mid terraced villa enjoying a convenient setting’. Sounds promising and not too expensive (which means of course the alarm bells are already ringing) Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I wasn’t familiar with the address but it wasn’t too difficult to find. Not the best neighbourhood in town but I thought I’d give it a chance.

There was no doorbell so I went to knock. Unfortunately I went to knock exactly the same time as the owner went to open it, she had seen me parking my car ‘Ooompf’ ‘Are ye alright son?’, ‘Aye aye I’m fine, I was just having a good look at yer floormat’, I started picking bristles out of my teeth and couldn’t help but notice an unpleasant aroma. The woman must have seen the pained look on my face ‘Oh aye sorry about that son the dog has the skitters

My first impressions were further jaded when I stepped inside. It’s common practice when selling a house to put a pot of coffee on, bake some homemade bread or have a few scented candles about the place to create the correct ‘ambience’. Clearly this vendor was aiming at the Marlboro cowboy or more likely the Regal King Size wideboy!

So this is the lounge son, and through here is the kitchen’ I did feel like saying ‘are ye sure wur not in the chimney’ but just in time I spotted the source of smoke. Her chain-smoking husband. An extremely large man taking up a whole armchair who had ‘hate’ and ‘hate’ tattooed across his sausage-sized fingers. He grunted in my general direction and I understood why the dog had the skitters, a few minutes in his company and I would be scratching to get out the front door as well. The rest of the tour was me nodding my head a lot, ooo’ing and aaah’ing at her ornaments and generally edging slowly back towards the exit.

I decided not to go for either of these two properties, they just weren’t ‘me’ only another 15 to look at this week …. Greeeeeaaaaat …..


Monday, October 18, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 14

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 17th October 2004

Things were starting to get a bit iffy, in fact I was getting extremely hot under the collar, I could feel my pulse racing. My heart was pounding like a hammer and I could hear each beat inside my head. My stomach was churning with dissent, three down one to go. The dealer turned to face Phil and twisted the next card, the three of hearts ‘Lucky bas’ I muttered. Then he slowly turned to face me, grinning evilly he flicked the next card in my direction. It seemed to hang in the air, taking an absolute eternity to land; I didn’t need to look as a roar of laughter engulfed the table. ‘Oh fuuuu..’, ‘Nae luck Shanks, what was it this time? Aftershock and tomato juice wasn’t it? Ha ha haaa’.

The drink promptly arrived and I reluctantly grasped it in my hand ‘In a one’er mind’ he was grinning like a Cheshire cat ‘Ffnbaas’ I slurred and then chugged the vile concoction in one. There was a brief pause to see if the drink was staying down then an appreciative roar from the rest of the team as I smacked the glass back on the table. Rubbered though I was I couldn’t help but notice Kenny’s face was now tripping him. The ‘Cheshire cat’ had been replaced with a face like a bulldog licking pish off a nettle. I sat back and fixed him with what I thought was a smug smile but given my inebriated state it probably looked like I was trying to defecate.

What’s this great game you may ask? Four Jacks it’s called. Very simple really, just shuffle a pack of cards and deal them out around the table. The first person to get a jack chooses a spirit, the second person to get a jack chooses a mixer, the third person to get a jack pays for the drink and the last poor bastard who gets a jack has to drink. Normally this would just be a game of chance but I feel Kenny’s membership of the magic circle was tipping the odds, either that or I’m just ‘lucky’. Whatever the reason heaving in a wheelie bin at two on a Saturday morning topped off a great weekend

It had started off with great promise and in a far more civilised manner. What could be nicer than a pleasant meal with some former work colleagues. We met in a ‘restaurant’ on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Despite being a ‘chain pub’ this particular establishment had always served us well. Hearty portions of simple but well cooked food in a convivial atmosphere, all the bash as they say. Unfortunately standards seem to have slipped recently.

I should have recognised the warning signs when the waitress no longer took our order at the table and you had to order at the bar. Fair enough though that’s quite common, I’ll just go to the bar. However alarm bells really started ringing when the lazy young trollop behind said bar couldn’t even be airsed to move the 10 feet to where I stood and instead shouted ‘Yeah?’ across the void.

I’d like to order some food please’ ‘What’s yer number’, ‘Sorry?’, ‘Yer table number?’, ‘I don’t know it’s the one in the corner by the window’, ‘I need the number’, ‘what do ye mean were the only people here!’, ‘cannay take yer order without the number’, ‘and you don’t know it?’, ‘Nuh duuuuh’. I was about to erupt when I remembered I was with old friends and instead I took a deep breath stomped back to the table to get the number.

When I returned she was deep in conversation with her equally uninterested co-worker. I looked to either end of the bar, not a soul in sight. I waited a further ten seconds before clearing my throat noisily. The stroppier of the two looked up and screwed her face into an even less attractive pose, which I have to admit I didn’t think was possible given the ‘ground state’ of her ugly mug. After several failed attempts to communicate verbally I pointed at the pictures on the menu and she finally managed to take our order. I returned to our table with little hope of ever getting fed.

The craic was excellent though and time flew by, it was only when my stomach started rumbling I realised we had been waiting thirty minutes. I excused myself and went to check on progress. The two ugly sisters were still gassing at the bar, previous experience had taught me they had no peripheral vision so I walked straight up to the till and stood right in front of them.

The appearance of there one and only paying customer did little to shut their yapping. The stroppy one or ‘bagpuss’ as I prefer to think of her did briefly look down her nose at me before continuing on about the state of Jordans breasts. My patience was not wearing thin it was full blown anorexic.

I rapped on the top of the bar ‘Knock Knock!’ they turned to stare at me, I struck the bar twice more ‘KNOCK KNOCK!’ they looked bewildered ‘ok ladies lets try one more time’ I thumped the bar with my fist ‘KNOCKITYFECKING BASTARRDING BOLLOCKYKNOCK!!’, there was a long pause then the one with two brain cells ventured ‘Who’s there?’. ‘Dawn’, ‘Dawn who?’, ‘Dawn’t ye think it’s time I got my fecking dinner? hmmmmm’ They scuttled off to the kitchen like two frightened mice.

I did feel rather guilty about losing the rag at two girls but this guilt swiftly evaporated and was replaced with fear when the chef came out. By the look of things Robbie Coltrane and Alison Moyet had produced a lovechild. This man mountain had to squeeze sideways through the double Kitchen doors ‘Oh fuuuu’…….

I legged it back to the table ‘Change of plan girls, I’m treating you to a slap up feed somewhere else’, ‘where’, ‘Anywhere just get your fecking coat’, ‘What’s wrong with this place’, ‘nothing nothing nothing just get yer fecking coat!’, ‘ok ok no need to be snippy … now where’s my lipstick …’, ‘cmon cmon’, ‘In a minute I’m finishing my makeup’ ‘You look great now let’s gooooowaaahhhhh’ I was lifted off my feet and spun gently round ………

A large sweaty face hoved into view and an equally unattractive bulbous hairy nose was pressed against mine ‘Hello’ I squeaked. The overpowering aroma of cheap cooking sherry and stale cigarettes pervaded the air ‘Soooo yooooo wantchoordinner do yaaah?’, ‘Well I’m not that hungroooompppfff’, ‘It’s yoor lucky day, chefs special ona Friday…’, ‘Oh greaaaggghhh’ Turns out the chefs special wasn’t chicken in a basket it was ‘beating in the car park’ a snip at £3.99.

I had the last laugh though …. I only gave him a three pound tip ……


Sunday, October 17, 2004


We do value your custom

Welcome to Hamish McShanks diary - All our operators are busy at the moment, but we DO value your custom so please hold and one of our trained operatives will deal with you as soon as possible ..... la la laa, tum te tumm doo doo dooby

All our operators are busy at the moment, but we really really REALLY DO value your custom (so much so we've 'outsourced' our call centre to India and slashed hundreds of jobs) so please hold and one of our poorly trained operators will cut you off completly as soon as you get through ..... la la laaa tum te tum do be doooby doo-

Hello welco-

Ah told ye .......

Ok so I wis pished last night and ah havnay written the diary - it'll be oot the morras neet

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 13

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 10th October 2004

Left here’, ‘where?’, ‘here here HERE’, ‘Oh you mean there’, ‘Forfffu… ok ok it’s not a problem we can take the next left’, ‘this one coming up?’, ‘Aye’, ‘Bath Street’, ‘Yes’, ‘okey dokey…’, ‘what the feck are ye doing were going to miss it’, ‘Patience patience, it’s safety first ….. mirror ……signal ‘Ye’ve passed it ye fecking eedjit!’, ‘..manoeuvre’, ‘Oh great now were on Sauchiehall street, stop the car!’, ‘Why?’, ‘It’s a safety issue….’ I pulled over to the side of the road ‘What’s the problem?’, ‘I didn’t want you to lose control of the vehicle’, ‘but I’m not going tooommpfff’ It appeared it was my turn to navigate

After a whirlwind journey through the centre of the city we eventually parked up on University avenue ‘Right lets go were running late …’ I remained in my seat ‘C’mon c’mon we’ve got to go’ I stared sullenly at the vanity mirror and continued dabbing a tissue on my bloody nose ‘Doo didn’t need do hit me..’, ‘Ach dry yer eyes and get yer jacket’ ever the sympathetic one my brother. But bloods thicker that water as they say and I’ve always said he was quite thick….

The pub was fairly quiet when we arrived, the usual mixture of crumbly old men with more hats than teeth and pre pubescent students who think they’ve broken new barriers by dying their hair blue and piercing some appendage or flap of skin. Tattoos aren’t adventurous enough these days you see, you need to ‘find the edge’ and piercing is just ‘way out there’. Haaa a brain piercing is what they need, nice 6 inch nail through their frontal lobe would sort out their hash. They do say you get more right wing as you grow older but I can’t see it myself.

Certainly the bar staff are looking younger than I remember. I made a tiny error when ordering the drinks ‘Hello toots can you pop through the back and ask your dad if he can pour me a pintooomppff’ turns out she was twenty one and west of Scotland karate champion. Although I don’t think a blow to the side of the face with a tennents tray is technically karate ‘anything else Grandad?’ she enquired I pulled myself off the floor ‘no that’s fine thanks, thanks very much, thanks’.

Fraz was sitting at a table rolling a cigarette ‘What took ye so long flash? Checking yer mirror were ye’, ‘Ha ha ha, they had to change a barrel’ his gaze fell on my reddening cheek ‘Use your face to change it did they?’ I gave him a warning glare and headed off to the toilets to examine my bruised face.

When I returned a few of his work colleagues had arrived. Well to be technically correct they were his ex-work colleagues as this was his leaving do. And being the nice brother I am I’d offered to drive him home to save him some money. If I’d known I was going to get a bloody nose and a fractured cheekbone out of it I may have been a tad more reticent in offering my services.

The pub was filling up quickly and our group was expanding at an even faster rate. Our original two tables and eight seats had multiplied exponentially and we were now engulfing nearby patrons. An elderly couple who had come in for a quiet drink and a chat found themselves right ‘in the body of the Kirk’ the pool table was soon assimilated into the collective and it was only a matter of time before we swallowed up the bar (in all senses)

Time wore on and the raft of drinks sitting in front of Fraz grew inexorably, Guinness and whisky stretched out towards the horizon and numerous ‘shooters’ were lined up for his consumption. Despite his sterling efforts to drink his way out of trouble, he was fading fast and hardly putting a dent in this forest of booze.

The bell rang out for last orders and everyone rushed to buy Fraz another drink. I was standing at the bar drinking a mineral water as he fixed a forlorn bloodshot eye on me and silently mouthed ‘save me’. It was a sorry sight and despite the fact he’d sconed my on the hooter just a few hours earlier he was still my twin brother ….. so I bought him large malt. ‘There ye are twinny’ he looked at me with pleading eyes and I cracked ‘Sorry bruv’ I leaned over to the barman and asked him to make it a triple ….

It took some time for us to leave the pub, partly due to the long goodbyes from all his work mates, shaking of hands, slapping of backs, hugs and kisses and partly because he was absolutely reeking. I patiently stood with his jacket as he slurred ‘ahl keep in touch hic .. no no no … ah will’, ‘yoormaffnnbestpal’ for the umpteenth time and stotted around the pub like a pinball wizard.

We eventually managed to get out the door and headed back to the car. Fraz seemed to be walking on some invisible gradient that I wasn’t privy to. He would alternate between accelerating madly and grinding to a sudden swaying halt. Despite emptying his bladder before we left an emergency pit stop was soon required. Fortuitously there were some nearby building works and large scaffolding provided adequate cover for his comfort break.

I stood at lookout as he leaned against the scaffolding and wrestled with his zip. Luckily the road was fairly quiet and I soon heard the familiar spatter of liquid on tarmac (accompanied by a very relieved sigh) Sadly this was rather swiftly followed by an elongated scuffling scrabbling noise, a groan and an abrupt thump. I turned to see my bruv lying on his back doing an extremely poor impression of an ornamental fountain ‘Oh for chri…’ On the plus side we’d taken his car so I was less concerned about the upholstery.

We managed to avoid further incident on the journey home. Frazers flat however is on the third floor and he had a little trouble negotiating the stairs. He did apply safe mountaineering techniques by ensuring he always had three points of contact with the climbing surface. Regrettably the three points of contact he chose were his left nostril his right nostril and both front teeth. After the second floor I slung him over my shoulder and carried him the rest of the way ‘Cheers bruv hic .. yourafffndiamond’ he slurred before wet dashing the back of my jacket with partially digested kebab.

I turfed the burbling idiot on to his bed and fetched a bucket ‘Alright twinny?’, ‘mmm smbbnnfggggnnnn’, ‘Ok… night night then’, ‘gnfaabbbllllmm mmm

So all in all a successful evening, Fraz is never going to drink again and I’ll never be able to look at the Trevi fountain in the same light either …..


Monday, October 04, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 12

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 3rd October 2004

Achee achee canunk canunk …. ‘Oh for goodness sake’ achee achee canunk canunk ‘Why do I always get the one with the squeaky wheel!’ Squeaky didn’t quite do it justice, squeaky implies a relatively quiet noise, this was way past squeaky and most definitely into screechy territory. However it was the only one left in the trolley park and it looked like the vultures had already been at it. ‘Jeeesus christ look at the state of that’ it was absolutely gubbed, even students wouldn’t steal this it was so rusty ‘Bloody sad when no one can be bothered shoving you in the river eh?’ A women packing her car gave me a questioning look and I decided it would probably be a good idea to stop talking to my trolley.

I headed for the entrance…. achee achee canunk canunk…. the noise was annoying enough but the fact that all the wheels seemed to point in different directions was proving an even bigger irritation ‘For feck sake, it’d be easier pushing ma fecking car roond the supermarket’. After thirty seconds of trying to defy the laws of physics I was sweating buckets. By the time I reached the entrance I looked like I’d run a marathon ‘Bloody hell I’d have worn my fecking shorts if I’d known this was the only bastarding trolley’ there was no option but to stop for a rest.

Alas the entrance was guarded by the obligatory war painted dolly birds trying to sell double glazed conservatories or some such sheeeeite. ‘Good evening Sir-..’,’ Not interested’, ‘I haven’t told you-‘, ‘Still not interested’, ‘This is a fantastic offe-‘, ‘I don’t need a fecking conservatory’, ‘It will add thousands to the price-’, ‘I live in a shoe’, ‘Perhaps some double glazing in the heel then‘ My patience was at a premium ‘Tell you what, I’ll buy a conservatory if you buy some cleansing wipes and remove the 4 inches of slap off that overbearing ugly mug of yourooompfff’ it would appear that the lady in question was a firm believer in equality, thrashing each side of my face in equal measure. A clipboard isn’t the easiest blunt instrument to wield though and I managed to limp off towards the vegetable section as she tried to remove a stanchion from the exhibition stand.

I could see her pacing up and down the aisle slapping the iron bar in the palm of her hand. I took refuge amongst the turnips. She was pretty angry but I think the thought of potential lost custom overrode her desire to bludgeon me to death. Just as well I nearly had my eye out a couple of times as customers tried to ‘pick’ my baldy heid from amongst the neeps (glad I never hid in the carrots)

Excitement over and chased from the vegetable section I continued with my shopping. Naturally I’d left my actual shopping list at home, although to be fair I’d only written the word ‘food’ on it so it wasn’t the drawback it might have been. Besides Sunday night is ‘Lottery’ night. If you time it just right you can get some absolute bargains in the reduced section. Now I know what your thinking ‘miserable tight jock’ and you’d be right but it’s the only time I’ve ever been able to afford fillet steak ….. green fillet steak admittedly …….with claggy bits ….. but fillet all the same.

The thing is of course that everyone wants a bargain and competition can be fierce. You cant just camp out at the reduced section that’s simply not the done thing. In fact you’ll get many evil stares and a number of elbows in the ribs if you try this. Neither can you follow the ‘pricer’ around for days on end writing down their routine and personal habits, taking photographs and harassing their friends because apparently that’s ‘Stalking’. Seemingly you can get three hundred hours community service and a restraining order put in place if you try that …….. again.

So instead you have to wait, bide your time, and play the long game. I nonchalantly strolled down the sauces and pickles aisle grabbing a couple of jars of horseradish to go with my targeted sirloin steak and some mint sauce for the lamb joint I had noticed. There was no sign of ‘bargain boy’ and his pricing gun so I was forced to take a detour down the next aisle ‘Where the hell are you’ I muttered.

I picked up a tube of toothpaste and rolled slowly back towards the reduced section idly picking up random products, feigning interest, then replacing them on the shelf. I stopped where I had a good view of the counter and picked up the nearest item. Still no sign of discount man, I was losing patience when I heard a voice behind me ‘Eeem do you want them?’, ‘Hmmm sorry?’ a very attractive young lady was giving me an enquiring look ‘Do you want them, only it’s the last packet’ I looked at the object in my hand and went deep crimson ‘Eeer noooo I don’t think I need any sanitary towels it’s … eeeer … not my time of the mon… ‘ I trailed off as I felt her withering glare bore into me. I thrust the packet into her hand and sped off ‘Uuuum excuse me while I go and kill myself’

I didn’t have time to chew my knuckles off in anguish because ‘The price was right’as they say. Bargain boy had arrived with his pricing gun, I moved closer achee achee …. canunk canunk …… Oh yeah I’ve timed this to perfection … achee achee …. canunk canunk. I could see him slowly lifting his hand, he was definitely going for his gun, there was no doubt about it ‘Oh your mine’ I whispered under my breath. I positioned myself carefully poised to strike. when I heard a noise … aagnng clackaa …. aagnng clackaa ‘What the..’ aagnng clackaa aagnng clackaa I searched for the source and spotted another shopper coming from the other end of the aisle. I was being outflanked ‘You sneaky baaaas …No way pal!’ I went for it acheeachee canunkcanunk acheeachee canunk canunk acheeeeee. aagnngclackaaaagnng clackaa There was only one way this was going to end …….. in tears

With coalition precision we collided ten feet away from the reduced section, thankfully it wasn’t a ‘head on’ and I ricocheted into the frozen veg. Last I saw my opponent was barrelling towards a pyramid of baked bean tins (what do they expect stacking them like that, they’re asking for it) When I emerged from the freezer an old biddy was putting the last piece of prime steak in her overflowing trolley, it looked like somebody had slaughtered a beast in it. The only thing that was missing was a couple of horns sticking out the top. And all for thruppence ha’penny!

And to top it all off when I got to the checkout I was sandwiched between ‘Granny’ with her flame grilled 100% beef shopping trolley and the gorgeous girl who liberated me of my sanitary towels, oh joy……


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