Sunday, November 28, 2004


Hamish McShanks Excuses PLC

Hey Hey Hey guess what’s coming …… yes that’s right another woeful excuse as to why the Diary is once again late.

But to make it more ‘fun’ I’ve decided to give you a multi choice excuse :

Ham Shanks would like to apologise for the non appearance of this weeks diary because :

a) Ham got kidnapped by bandits and held hostage in a mountain hideaway until his friends and family paid a 74p randsom. Which they were pretty damm tardy with and to add insult to injury the ‘nappers’ settled for 37p and gave them change!

b) Ham was hospitalised after turning himself into a human shield to rescue a small child from being run over (a small ungrateful whiny little sh….)

c) Ham was stuck on the cludge after his evil twin thought it would be funny to put super glue on the toilet seat. Stuck on for FOUR hours mind you …

d) Ham was actually at work on Sunday cos he cant code COBOL for toffee and he’s still trying to finish the project he should have finished on Friday and if he had any hair left he would have pulled it out by now and he was going to go mental and put his fist through the monitor so instead he came home to write a pityful excuse for the non apperance of his diary. Ham is now going to have a camomile tea and let his blood pressure reduce to near death levels and his heartbeat to drop below 200bpm

e) All of the above

So you choose…….


Ps Diary may not be out at all this week due to other ‘commitments’ ……

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 19

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 21st November 2004

Tap tap tap ‘Oh for fu….’ tap tap tap ‘Patience Ham, patience’ tap tap tap ta-clunk ‘Ha ha ya baaas that should be enough ’ I picked up the piece of ice and jammed it in the kettle, it took a bit of encouragement and a couple of good thumps but I eventually managed to get the top back on. ‘Nothing like a nice cup of tea to warm the old cockles’ I reached across to flick the switch and everything went black……

When I came round I was lying on the floor ‘Oh ma heid’ it would appear that electricity and damp do not mix. I was however ‘slightly’ warmer due to my enforced but uncontrolled bladder movement. I don’t want to appear ungrateful but I would prefer to have raised my core temperature with a cup of tea. I shuffled off to the bedroom to change my trousers before they froze completely and the chaffing became unbearable.

Changed and dried I returned to the kitchen. I’m not the kind of person who likes to be beaten, which is a tad unfortunate as it happens to me most weeks. However this time I thought the problem through and smuggly donned my rubber marigolds. I sauntered up to the kettle ‘Think your smart do you Mr Electricity, think you can outwit old Ham!’, ‘‘Haa well I’m damm well having a cup of tea’ I stretched out a rubber cased finger ‘You’ll have to get up pretty early tognnfmmmmaaahhh…

Luckily my bladder was still fairly empty and it was only an underwear change required this time. Note to self : Examine marigolds for holes before using as safety gloves. Undeterred I returned to the Kitchen. This time I got a stick. A wooden stick (I’m not getting caught out like that again) I approched cautiously and levered the plug out of it’s charred socket. It did take me about twenty minutes, and another stick, to get it into the new socket (just think chopsticks and King Prawn) but I eventually managed to fire up the kettle without further soiling of my shreddies.

My self satisfied grin did not last however, in fact it evaporated at about the same rate as the water. Turns out a Kettle full of ice produces about 15 milliliters of water. Which coincidently is just enough to produce a taunting plume of fine steam before the kettle in question shakes violently and expires in a shower of white hot plastic shards. The shaking was quite mesmorising and I was staring slack jawed as my kettle commited hari-kiri. Luckily my body had the presence of mind to cower behind the fridge door. I don’t think my ‘Ariston’ will be going ‘on and on and on’ anymore…

Winter is upon us it would seem and it bloody well snuck up! Went to bed Thursday night and the portents were fine, no sign of polar bears on the horizon, no hint of my car being crushed by pack ice. I woke up Friday morning to find everything frozen solid. They have been warning of the coldest winter since nineteen oatcake, looks like they may be right.

The cold weather has not put my house hunting on hold though and I viewed another property this weekend. First impression was a bit of a dissapointment I have to say. ‘Two bedroomed terraced house in a popular residential area’. Hmmmm popular with racing drivers it would seem. The house was on a very busy very long very straight piece of road. It took me twenty minutes to cross the street, I had to wait until the marshalls were waving their yellow flags.

I knocked on the door and waited patiently as the safety car roared by with it’s lights blazing. ‘Ah you must be Mr Shanks’, ‘Yes that’s ri-vrooooom-ght’, ‘I’m Stan, Come in’, ‘Thanks very mu-vrooomm-ch’. ‘Bit of a busy road that’, ‘What’, ‘Bit of a busy road that’ I shouted ‘Oh it’s not bad’ he replied locking the door behind me and removing his foam ear plugs.

The inside of the house was interesting. The first bedroom can best be described as yellow. Not very descriptive I’ll agree. But that’s all I remember, because when I say it was yellow, I mean ALL of it was yellow. Walls, ceiling, carpet, furniture, the lot! I think I know what it must be like to live inside an egg now ‘Nice and bright isnt it’, ‘uum yes it’s uuum …Lovely’ I had to get out before I started clucking.

The rest of the house must have been designed by that famous disk jocky M.C. Escher. I’m sure I went up about seven flights of stairs but we kept reappearing in the ‘yellow’ room. My host seemed entirely unperturbed that we only seemed to viewing the one room ‘Nice and bright isnt it’ for the seventeenth time was a bridge too far for me though and I made a bid for freedom. ‘Look an Emu’ I shouted whilst pointing in the opposite direction. As he turned I made a dive for the window. Sadly double glazing is quite tough and my effort was a bit half hearted so all I suceeded in doing was ricocheting off the window into a yellow wardrobe and crumpling onto the floor in a quivering heap.

The Emu seems to have gone now Mr Shanks’ he turned to see my prone figure on the floor ‘Oh did you fall down Mr Shanks? Dear oh dear’ he picked me up and dusted me down. I was getting very nervous, he seemed entirely unperturbed at my attempted escape. Almost as if this sort of thing happened all the time. We went up the stairs one more time and sure enough we arrived back in the yellow room. I was desperately holding back the tears as I asked ‘Your Mother doesn’t sit on a rocking chair by an Attic room window does she?’

His face broke into a huge grin and he started to laugh like a drain ‘Ooooh no Mr Shanks ha ha ha haaaa’ he was bent over holding his sides and weeping with laughter ‘she’s in the basement stuffed with old newspaper’ This time quadruple glazing wouldn’t have stopped me. I was through the window like a polaris missile and sprinting to the car. My fingers felt like sausages as I tried to sort out my keys and unlock the door. I glanced over my shoulder to see ‘Stan’ coming out the front door clutching armfuls of newspaper. If he got much closer I was in danger of producing some ‘solid fuel’ heating in my trouser department. A surge of relief poured over me as the engine burst into life and I tore down the road like a bat out of hell.

I don’t think I’ll be having a second viewing of that one. Don’t fret though I’ve still got an appointment to see a three bedroomed semi tomorrow. Now what’s the vendors name again. Oh yes Mr J. Dahmer ……….

Good night and remember ….. don’t have nightmares …..


Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Hamish McShanks World Championship Diary

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 14th November 2004

‘Good afternoon ladies and gentleman this is the captain speaking’, ‘You may have noticed we are experiencing a little bit of turbulence at the moment so if you could just return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts we’ll try and find some smooth air’

‘Aaaaaaaahhhhh were all going to die!’, ‘No no no noooooo were not going to make it noooooooooo!’ I sighed, folded the corner of the page over and lifted my head from my book. A quick glance around the cabin did not reveal any gaping holes in the fuselage of the aircraft. A cursory examination of the engines through my starboard window did not reveal any flames licking up the side of the aeroplane and we didn’t seem to have been hijacked my a group of extremists armed with nail scissors. I tried to settle back down to my book ‘Sweet Jesus we’ve got minutes to live Aaarggghhh!’

I was in transit to Vienna and ‘had’ been enjoying a good book ‘Eats shits and leaves’ I had intended to buy a text on the zero tolerance approach to punctuation but an overly hasty journey through WH Smiths had left me with a totally different book (only two vowels out but a world apart) Gorilla nutrition isn’t nearly as interesting as you would imagine. The incessant screaming of my neighbour was getting on my nerves though so I felt compelled to try and appease the man.

I pointed out that he was more likely to be knocked down crossing the road getting to the airport than being involved in an air crash. ‘There’s no point in worrying where your nearest exit is’ I said ‘because when you plough into the side of a mountain at 700 miles an hour in a large aluminium coffin exits aren’t an issue’ he just mumbled as I continued ‘Your more likely to be trapped in a car than stall on take off and plunge to earth in a fireball of death’, ‘Hmmm do you see?’ his face was frozen in a rictus of terror now. ‘Look it’s just like a fly hitting a windscreen’ I continued ‘you wouldn’t feel a thing! vroooooaaaamm whump! kaboooom and your gone’ tears were flowing down his cheeks and he started rocking gently in his seat. I shook my head and turned away ‘You try your best but there’s no helping some people

Clearly we didn’t die but when we got to Vienna airport I had the most surreal experience.I was waiting patiently for the shuttle bus to take me to the hotel. Being a Scotsman ‘on tour’ I was naturally wearing my kilt. My tartan is the ‘Hunting Rose’ a fetching darkish blue tartan with red, green and white lines crossing horizontally and vertically giving the whole ensemble a definite tartan feel. I was also sporting the traditional sporran made from a freshly clubbed baby seal. So to the outsider one might say quintessentially Scottish.

You can imagine my surprise therefore when I was asked for directions twice whilst standing outside the terminal. I was texting on my phone when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and a slight olive skinned looking man was facing me ‘Excusa me, ahh do yooo know dee way to thee ahhh Hotel Thththth’ I gave him blank stare ‘Deee hotel Aththth’ he continued. I gave him another quizzical look before making a further exaggerated display of examining my own attire. ‘Excusaa-‘ I cut him off ‘Do I look Austrian?’ I enquired. I think my thick Scottish accent may have hampered his understanding but after a couple of minutes of me sticking my tongue inside my cheek and going ‘nmuuuhhh’ he seemed to get the message and wandered off.

The shuttle bus arrived and whisked me off to my hotel. The accommodation was rather classy, and more importantly, right next to the sports centre where I would be making my debut in the racketlon world championships. I grabbed my bags out of the bus, thanked the driver and thrust a couple of notes in his hand before striding inside. I had to be quick before he realised they were Bank of Scotland pound notes ‘thought I’d never get rid of them’ I muttered. I did hear him shouting as the sliding doors closed behind me but I don’t know what the words meant something like ‘schweinhund’.

The hotel reception was magnificent with large crystal chandeliers and polished mirrored walls. A particularly impressive brass bell sat atop the reception counter. I headed straight for it and gave the top a good wallop; kaching! Kaching! KACHING! A hand shot out and covered the bell. Disappointed my toy had been removed I glared at the owner of the hand.

A tall angular man with a face like an axe greeted me ‘Guten Abend Mein….. Herr’ He was slightly taken aback by my attire. ‘Guten Whut?’ He switched smoothly into English ‘Good evening Sir I assume you are here for the racketlon?’, ‘Aye that’s right Fritz noo gies ma room key ah’m going oot on the lash’, ‘Indeed sir, would you like a smoking room?’, ‘No I’d like one that’s out ha ha …’ I guessed by the withering glare and the tumbleweed blowing past he’s heard that one before. ‘Your in room 436 Mr Shanks, breakfast is served 6:30 till 10:00am’, ‘Oh Aye right …. eh cheers’ I slunk away towards the elevator.

My room was indeed ‘out’ and completely devoid of flames. It was also very well equipped; TV, bed, mini bar, shower, mini bar, toilet, mini bar, table and chairs, and a mini bar. I decided to have a wee snifter from the mini bar as I got changed. Although ‘getting changed’ is probably a bit of a grand title for opening a beer and spraying some Lynx ‘voodoo’ under yer kilt. Voodoo was a good name cos it did feel like someone was shoving pins into ma baws, I wish I’d read the bit that said don’t spray on broken or sensitive skin.

I hobbled across to the sports centre to see who else was kicking about. The first person I saw when I walked in the door was the ladies No3 seed and good friend of mine Kathy Buchanananana. She was propped up against the bar (no surprise there) ‘Alright Katy how did the team competition go?’ She looked up bleary eyed from her beer ‘mmmm’ she grunted. Oh dear I thought, didn’t go so well then , I better cheer her up. I started jovially prodding her in the arm ‘you didn’t lose to England did you?’ ‘eeeh eeeh’ more playful jabbing of the finger ‘Ooooh no you didn’t lose to England did yooooooo’ now I’m pulling a stupid face and using a high pitched voice as well as prodding her with my finger (yes well hindsight is 20:20)

Katy rose up from her seat ‘it’s a bit difficult to put into words’ she said ‘Oh? how do you meaoooompppff’ She would have made a good footballer Katy, she managed to connect with both balls in one strike. I collapsed on the floor and curled up in the foetal position my hands covering (a fraction late) my swelling plums ‘gmmmmpfff’ She sat back down and took a sip of her beer ‘Yes that’s pretty much what it was like’

After a brief rest examining the pattern on the carpet I managed to pull myself up on to a bar stool. I caught the attention of the barmaid ‘Ein beer bitte …… oh and some ice if you have it’ I decided not to press Katy any further on the results of the team competition. Conversation can be a bit stilted after a kick in the happy sack, luckily a few more of the Scotland team arrived and I went about introducing myself.

That night was a blur of bars and beers. I vaguely remember being in an Irish pub inside a shopping centre. They do say Guinness doesn’t travel well and up until now I would have said it’s been ok everywhere I’ve been. Free advice – don’t drink Austrian Guinness, the worst pint of Guinness in the world bar none, the only thing to compete with it was the pint of Kilkenny’s I had afterwards. I think that’s why I was so hungover the next day, a bad pint …….

My first match was at 10:00am on Friday morning, I wasn’t well. Racketlon starts with table tennis, I was sweating buckets in the warm up. The four Austrian bratwurst I’d had for breakfast weren’t sitting well either. I lost 21:12 but was just pleased I didn’t become the player remembered for chundering on a table tennis table during the world championships. It would be a bit difficult to get effective topspin with diced carrot clinging to your bat. Suffice to say I didn’t prevail and elected to spend the rest of the day watching the ‘Pros’.

Racketlon is still a relatively young sport so there are a lot of regulars on the tour. A few players have ‘reputations’ be it for stamina, skill, sportsmanship or excitement. One of the players who shall remain nameless has a bit of a reputation for being a ‘bad boy’. I read somewhere he was described as the John McEnroe of racketlon.

I should explain racketlon is table tennis followed by squash followed by badminton followed by tennis. Each game to 21 points and the winner is the one with the highest aggregate score. Well ‘Mr McEnroe’ was going into the final sport (tennis) of his match needing to restrict his opponent to 14 points to win overall. The game was fairly tense and tight. ‘John’ was playing his usual games but stretching away with the game. He served at 20:14 and won the point ‘YEEEESSSS .. YEESSS YAAAA Yaa’ etc etc much celebration and a whooping and a hollering (very gracious in victory). Sadly he had ‘slightly’ miscalculated and in fact he had to restrict his opponent to 13 points to win. What he had achieved was a draw …… John John John ….. tut tut tut

But there are no draws in racketlon you must have a result. This means we were set for a sudden death one point winner takes all scenario. No second serves, no second chances (ooooh can you feel the tension) it’s actually called ‘Gummiarm’. A Swedish word which translates as ‘rubber arm’ i.e. lots of tension and your losing control because of the pressure, hence the rubbery arm, or sphincter as the case may be. Can you guess what happened? ….. now stop your sniggering ….. the place erupted and his opponent just shook his hand and walked off with a grin like a Cheshire cat. Every silver lining has a cloud ‘John’…..

But Mr McEnroe is very much the exception. What I did find at the championship was an awful lot of ‘bloody nice’ people. For a new boy like me everyone was very welcoming and friendly. There was a great atmosphere all weekend with all the ‘home nations’ cheering each other on – great craic and camaraderie.

There was almost a ‘diplomatic incident’ at a group meal though. We were in a cracking authentic Austrian restaurant having snitzels and beers. Everything was going swimmingly until we came to the desserts. A couple of the girls had been coveting a slice of chocolate cake on the sweet trolley. I say covet when I really mean they had bagsee’d this bit of cake. We were all left in no doubt as to the life shortening repercussions of eating that particular piece of cake …….

One of our Party ‘Big Ray’ a very funny and genial Englishman happens to speak fluent German (which was handy ….. or so we thought) he was dealing with the waiter as the rest of our German knowledge consisted of saying ‘For you Tommy ze War is ooofaaah’ in a nasal German accent and holding one finger under our nose. Which let’s be honest isn’t that useful and unlikely to ingratiate us with our hosts.

‘Remember and get that bit of cake’ Carolyn reminded him for the umpteenth time ‘No problem leave it with me’ ….. and the waiter did. Fair play to him though he still managed to scoff the lot with Carolyn hanging on to his back trying to pull his head off and Jane biting his legs. Girls are so emotional ………

The final day was great, really tense finals and superb racket skills. Bonnie Scotland did not too bad at all. Two world champions in fact and a host of other medals, everything was hunky dory ….. until the prize giving ceremony ……

The Junior (under 20) world championship was won by ‘Young Calum’. Named thus as there are two Calums in the Scottish squad, the other one of course being ‘Tall Calum’. Anyway he received his medal and climbed on to the top of the rostrum a very proud and happy man. The organiser seemed to have had a humour bypass though because when the national anthem struck up it was ‘God Save the Queen’. As you can imagine there was a chorus of dissent from the watching Jocks and Calum looked like he had been licking piss off a lemon.

Thankfully they only played one verse as the fierce glares from the watching Jocks made the gentleman playing the PA wilt somewhat. We moved on a few classes and came to the Ladies Open. Two Scots winners this time Katy got third and Sarah had won the whole shooting match – World Champion number two – Woo Hoo!

Katy had a quiet word with the organiser suggesting that he may want to pull his head out of his rectum and that if they didn’t have the proper anthem not to play anything at all (she may have put it more diplomatically but I believe that was the gist of the conversation) But he would be smart wouldn’t he and he piped up on the microphone ‘Ve don’t have zee correct anseem so perhaps all zee Scots could sing it themselves’ and he sniggered ……. He snig-fecking-gered …… oh ma baldy heid….

Twenty years at Murrayfield has given me a good set of lungs and I couldn’t even hear the rest of the Scots singing (and they were) People four rows in front of me were drenched with spittle and a poor girl two to my left had blood coming out of her ears. I think they called the fire brigade as my heid went a dangerous crimson colour. When I finished there was a swathe of emptiness in front of me – I like to think of it as ground zero ……..

Same again next year? ………………. Doei

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Hamish McShanks Service announcement

Ok ok ok you know what's coming ......

Nae diary this week folks, I'm up tae my eyes at work and feverishly packing for my trip to Vienna (yes Vienna - Racketlon World Championships)

Never fear though next weeks effort will be a World Champs bumper special with extra pullout sections and a souvenir bumper sticker! ..........

Ok ok so it wont - sheesh!

Many apologies for the woeful service I shall give myself a stern talking to and a slap in the face

Kind Regards


Monday, November 01, 2004


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 16

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 31st October 2004

‘And this is the bathroom’ I stepped in to the room and was immediately dazzled by the reflection from the glimmering tiles. The room was filled with an intoxicating fragrance emanating from the scented candles surrounding a whirlpool spa bath the size of a small car. The bath was clearly supposed to be the ‘centrepiece’ of the room but for me the jewel in the crown was the shower.

A large tiled cubicle with four thick chrome pipes running down each wall. Twelve in total with hundreds of small holes perforating each pipe I followed the tubes to their nesting point and began to drool. It was the stuff of dreams, a Satellite Pro 9000 power unit ‘Mwuuaaaaoh mama’ I quivered. This bunny would send out 20 gallons of a second at 100 psi. There’s no need for soap with this baby (some savlon and a large bandage perhaps) It’s not removing the dirt that’s the problem it’s letting your skin grow back before you can use it again. And I like a powerful shower …..

The rest of the house was also perfect, an enormous kitchen with a cooker the Savoy would have been proud of. You could have rustled up a four course meal for two hundred on this thing (And I love cooking) All the bedrooms were spacious and beautifully decorated with ample storage and huge mirrored wardrobes. This was the house for me, no doubt about it, it’s too good to be true ……

I should point out I’ve never bought a house before, I’m a property virgin, I’m really quite naïve and gullible …… and it was dark

I had ‘just’ enough sense not to offer on the spot, thought I’d do a bit of research first. I spent a morning on the web looking at crime statistics for the area, phoned the council to see if there were any neighbours from hell, any outstanding ASBO’s that sort of thing. What were property prices like? how many houses had been sold in that area this year? I talked to people at work, I asked around – I was quite proud of myself, look at me being grown up and sensible …..

I even drove round again and had a look in daylight, hmmm okay so it’s not the nicest neighbourhood in the world (think shiny shower) but it’s ok (think shiny shower) probably on the up (shiny shower, shiny shower SHINY SHOWEEEEEER!!!!!!!!!) The voice in my head won the day and I set about putting in a formal offer. As a final check I though I’d talk to the local policeman to see what he thought of the area I was intending to move to ……….

Worst street in the toon’, ‘Whaaa’, ‘Nightmare for kids getting pished falling aboot and throwing stuff at yer windaes’, ‘Buuu’, ‘Aye I wudnay stay there, ye’d be better off living in a hollowed oot shite under a railway bridge’ My stomach was tightening as my sphincter was loosening ‘Thanks very much …. ’ I mumbled as I staggered out of the station and back to my car.

I sat at the wheel with my head in my hands and began to bubble, 20 minutes passed and the footwell was in danger of flooding (I was coping well) I tried to pick myself up with a stern talking to ‘Pull yourself together man’ and by giving myself a couple of good slaps in the face. The policeman sitting at the front desk gave me a rather quizzical look whilst I beat myself up but I suppose he thought I wouldn’t press charges against myself and went back to his crossword.

Sadly I didn’t have time to wallow in self pity (plenty of time for that when I’m hanging myself in my shiny new shower) I had to go to another viewing in the same estate. I started up the car and crawled towards my ‘new home’.

Now that my rose tinted glasses had been brutally kicked off my face I could smell the coffee (apologies for the mixed metaphors, I was in shock) I could see the place for what it really was, Baghdad on a Saturday night. The mystic powers of the shower dispelled I could now see the boarded up house round the corner. I could see the dismantled car in the driveway and the crumpled Burberry cap blowing down the street ‘Dear god what was I thinking’

But every cloud has a silver lining and my strata of silver was the solicitor being out of the office that afternoon. Oh deep joy! Thank god for ‘working lunches’ down the bookies. I managed to bail out before he put in an offer but the whole experience left me feeling rather dirty and used. My housing cherry was still intact (just) but I had most definitely been in a ‘knickers round the ankles’ scenario. The only thing missing was the empty bottle of diamond white nestling atop a used rubber johnny and the distant slamming of the back door as my ‘beau’ exits stage left with my CD collection baaaaastard!

This near miss has made me a tad more cynical when I view a property and I have to admit perhaps a smidgen over cautious or hypersensitive. On Sunday for instance I viewed a two bed roomed terraced house in quite a nice part of town. I ‘may’ have been carrying some baggage from the shower incident ……

So this is the lounge’, ‘Uhuu’ I gave the room a derisory glance and went back to examining my fingernails ‘Gas central heating and new double glazing throughout’, ‘Mmm’ I grunted. The owner was a little taken aback by my reticence but he ploughed ahead anyway ‘and if we go through here you can see the bathroo…’, AHAAA!!’ ‘sorry?’, ‘Oh you think you can snare me with a lovely shower do you?, ‘Wha…’, ‘Think I’ll roll over for a pine toilet seat cover and matching loo roll holder do you?’, ‘I …’, ‘Think I’m easy do you? Think I’m a sluuuut!’, ‘Well your wrong, WRONG do you hear! I’m not that easy, I’m a LADY!!!!’ This clearly confused him ‘but your 6 foot tall and bald as a snooker ball’, ‘Oh oh oh so it’s just the surface that matters is it yooooooo baaaaastard!’

He was stumbling backwards as I continued my tirade prodding him in the chest and ranting about emancipation and freeing myself from the shackles of man…….

I will admit I over reacted, I will admit I could have handled the situation better, I will admit that there was no need to scream chauvinist baaaastards ‘all’ the way to the police station but I still think an ASBO was a bit much (at least I know who else has one now)


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