Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 67

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary – w/e 27th November 2005

‘Thank crunchie it’s Friday!’ I sighed whilst starting up the car. It had seemed like a very long week and I was looking forward to getting home and cracking open a tinny of lager. The traffic wasn’t too bad as I exited work and we were moving along quite nicely for a Friday night. About a mile from my home I noticed the vehicle behind was furiously flashing their lights ‘mmm..what?’ I checked and my fog lights weren’t on, my lights were on, I wasn’t speeding or dawdling, I wasn’t emitting plumes of blue smoke. Yet still the flashing lights?

I knew the lights from the car behind were illuminating me in glorious Technicolor so naturally I tapped the side of my baldy heid and made corkscrew motions with my finger to indicate to the driver that perhaps he should stop flashing his lights. This had little effect, in fact I could vaguely see my hand gesture being returned. Time to move onto stage two of hand communication. I raised my left arm and let it pivot laterally at the elbow whilst simultaneously holding my hand in a position that would suggest I was clutching a cylindrical object. The flashing became yet more fervent.

I was going to progress to stage three when my exit appeared. I indicated to turn right and noted with some apprehension that my pursuer did the same, following me off the main road ‘okay Ham don’t panic, it’s just a coincidence’ about 100yrds later I indicated to turn right again. So did he. ‘Okay Ham now you can panic’ I took a left and two more rights, he was still with me ‘uhuuu huuu huuu’ I started to bubble

I was nearly home and was going to have to choose ‘fight or flight!’ I have to say flight was very appealing but as I was already at home, where to flee was the problem. This left me with fight. I pulled up outside my house and switched off the engine, my pursuer parked directly behind me ‘Ok Ham let’s get our retaliation in first’ my heart was beating like a hammer ‘no mercy’ sweat was pouring off my brow ‘it’s survival of the fittest’ I burst out of the car like a polaris missle, shouting and screaming a terrifying war cry ‘Aaaarrgggghhh yooo bassstaa-’

Well I’m sure it would have been terrifying if I hadn’t trodden on a fragment of dog keech as I burst out my car door. The combination of partially digested dog food and frosty pavement made for a fine impromptu slide. Not quite the fearsome impression I was aiming for as I slid less than gracefully past his door whilst attempting to balance on one leg ‘-aaaardoooaaahhh’. Unlike frosty excrement thorny shrubbery does not provide an efficient skating surface nor indeed a soft landing ‘ooooooomppf

My brother stepped out of his car and glanced at the bushes ‘mind your step, you could hurt yourself’ he sniggered as I struggled to free myself from the jagged thorns which were ripping my clothing to pieces ‘You! I thought you were a-‘, ‘Oh and yer tail light is out by the way, I’ve been flashing my lights at you for ages, didn’t you see me?’ he continued, getting his bag out of the boot. ‘I eeer ummm well’ He thrust the bag into my hands, shook his head, and marched towards the house ‘ye can choose yer friends

All was forgotten over a munchie box and several cold lagers, ok quite a number of cold lagers, ok a shitload of cold lagers ‘s’really good this mmm pakora init’ Frazer gave me a withering stare ‘that’s a piece of the box ye fud’. I struggled to focus on the brown fragment in my hand ‘are yooo suure?’, ‘well it’s got a name printed on it’ he replied scathingly ‘perhaps your pakora is sponsored by The Spice Garden’, ‘Noo I doont fink soo thish is from the 4 in 1’ He just rolled his eyes and watched me crack open another beer ‘Five, four, three-‘, ‘what yedoin’ I slurred ‘yer on your third beer’, ‘sho’, ‘I’m counting you out’, ‘what? yoo cheeky bas’, ‘two’, ‘yooo saying ahcannay hold ma-‘, ‘one’, ‘drinzzzzzzzz’, ‘and it’s all over sports fans

It was about seven in the morning when I awoke ‘ooohma heid’ my face was in the munchie box and I had a slice of donner stuck to my left cheek. It would appear my brother had simply eaten around my prone body. I was feeling a tad unwell and severely blocked up ‘musdt have a cold or dunfing coming on’ I mumbled whilst staggering to the toilet. After emptying my bladder I went to wash my hands, I glanced in the mirror ‘fnn baaaastard’. A large chip had been inserted up each nostril, I looked like a walrus ‘fnn dirty baaastard’

Washed, shaved and bereft of chips I sat in the kitchen savouring my cup of tea and wondering what to do until the rugby kicked off at three. It was a nice sunny day and I thought this a perfect opportunity to go and sort the rear light on my car. I’d even had the foresight to buy a bulb kit from Halfords for just sucj an eventuality. All I had to do was get the old one out, how hard could it be?

Well it would have been quite straight forward if I was a left handed dwarf with long thin hands, x-ray vision and a talent for puzzles. Sadly I am a right handed, lardbucket myopic with hands like dinner plates! Oh and absolutely no patience ‘bloody stupid useless fecking bul-‘, ’having problems?’. I didn’t even look up ‘nope I’m doing fine thank you’ I replied through gritted teeth. I could hear tea being slurped noisily ‘So the lights supposed to be in that many pieces is it?’, ‘yes’, ‘your sure?’, ‘yes‘, ‘so you don’t want any help then?’. My impatience got the better of my anger ‘aye go on then’

With hindsight I probably should have mentioned the struts holding up the back door was gubbed. You’d think he would have guessed with the broom handle propping it up and all. In my defence it all happened rather quickly. Fraz is left handed so he had a much better angle to get at the light fitting, conversely he had a much greater risk of knocking out the broom handle. I realised this just as the door dropped ‘right I think that’s it in-THUMP-aarrrghhhhhh’ I didn’t even laugh it looked that sore, although I did take a picture as it looked like the car was eating him! C’mon are you saying you wouldn’t? I just wished I’d managed to video it - £250 in the bank!

I extracted him from the jaws of the car and helped him inside ‘alright twinny dinna worry, you have a seat and I’ll get a brew on’ I left him in the living room and went to put the kettle on. Ten seconds later there was an almighty crash ‘Aaaaaah sweet jeeeesus my spine!’ I rushed back through to see him lying on the floor underneath the lazee boy recliner ‘Aaah yes I meant to say about that chair’ His face was a rictus of pain and he was stuttering and puffing as he tried to point a twisted finger at me youfffn .. youfffnn .. you fnnpriiiiick

And he didn’t even stay for the rugby? …. How rude …..


Monday, November 21, 2005


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 66

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 20th November 2005

‘The wingers making a break down the line he’s sidestepped the flanker, thrown an outrageous dummy that’s suckered the Argentinean centre, now he’s only got the fullback to beat and … oh that’s a ferocious tackle … oh he’s speared him into the ground, that’s very dangerous and controversial what do you think David?‘ Not much point in asking when you’ve already answered the question yourself you’d think, but as it happened I didn’t hear the rest of the commentary anyway as I had already leapt out of my seat and was waving an indignant finger at the big screen.

‘That’s outrageous!’ I bellowed. ‘For pities sake he could have killed him’, ‘settle down Ham’, ‘settle down? Settle down?’, ‘your making a scene’, ‘Did you see that he could have broken his neck’, ‘it’s only a game’, ‘that man could have been paralysed and you say it’s only a game-’, ‘he’s up now’. A full and speedy recovery did take some of the wind out of my sails ‘aye well it’s just as well, he’s lucky to be on the park that’s all I can say’ I trailed off mumbling into my pint. ‘Finished now?

Not wanting to look like a whining Alistair Campbell after ‘that’ spear tackle I restricted my retort to a half hour explanation as to the dangerous nature of spear tackles and the surrounding grey areas in the rulebook. My summing up was quite elegant if I do say so myself ‘Finally the laws do clearly state that if you lift a player from the ground you are responsible for ensuring he returns safely! …. Tans? …. Tansy?’, ‘She went for a slash fifteen minutes ago’ A pint of Guinness appeared before me ‘has he finished yet?’, ‘I think so but it’s difficult to tell when your not listening’. I conveyed my dissatisfaction with the pair of them through the medium of mime.

The rest of the match past without incident or indeed excitement. Another Scotland defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Time for another pint. My guests seemed to have had their fill of rugby and ranting. Kirsty had enjoyed the close ups of sweaty south sea islander types in the previous All Blacks, Ireland game but had missed some of the finer points of international rugby union. Admittedly the finer points are often in short supply when watching Scotland but the opposition run some fine lines.

Eight hours drinking also seems to be my limit these days so we caught a taxi home and ordered in a take away meal. I say ‘meal’ which might be stretching things a little. We ordered two ‘munchy boxes’ one vegetarian and one carnivore. For the chefs out there a munchy box is basically a 12” pizza box filled with a layer of chips, on top of which you scatter chicken pakora, mushrooms (fried in batter obviously) onion rings, vegetable pakora and fried chicken goujons. The crowning glory is a covering of donner meat! Mmmm. Two tubs of full fat coleslaw, some salad for a laugh and a couple of tins of fizzy pop. All for £4.99.

A single munchy box contains enough calories to feed a small African nation, a useful fact for all kids under ten to know so you can ‘trump’ your dads well worn phrase ‘there are starving kids in Africa who would kill for that *insert vegetable name here’ when you’ve left something green on the side of your plate and dessert privileges are being withdrawn. Simply retort ‘well why don’t you buy them a munchy box dad .. you miserable old bastard’ (might be prudent to leave out the last part though, dads can be touchy sometimes)

According to the menu a munchy box only actually ‘serves 2’ but it doesn’t mention units so perhaps they mean ‘nations’. However after my calorific rant I have to confess we did manage to guzzle the lot. And just so ye know the vegetarian option was as above (minus the donner & chicken obviously) but with even more vegetable pakora, battered mushrooms and a topping of cheese. Mmmm just stick a knife in my heart and cut out the middleman!

Replete with deep fried products I bade goodnight to my guests and retired to bed. Well more correctly they retired to bed and I retired to my camping mats and sleeping bag on the living room floor. This wasn’t a problem, I like camping so was happy to bivvy down in the living room. It was where to put my enormous distended stomach that was the problem. I elected to kip on the lazee boy recliner with a tartan travel rug draped over my bulging waistline. I could see my reflection in the fish tank and it wasn’t a pretty sight ‘just need to piss myself in the middle of the night and I can collect my pension’ I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

Morning Ham want me to get your zimmer frame out of can you get to the kettle without it?’, ‘mmmfssggt’, ‘don’t fret, you sort out yer incontinence pants and I’ll put the Tea on’, ‘oh har de har har’, ‘cmon get your skates on were off to the pet shop to get you some fish as a present for putting us up’. This brought me to life; I recently bought a bigger aquarium and was anxious to add some stock.

Ten minutes later we were at the pet shop. There were hundreds of fish to chose from and I was running from tank to tank pressing my nose against the glass ‘oh oh oh these are really cool’ I shouted for the umpteenth time ‘oh oh oh no these are really cool’ Tansy rolled her eyes ‘I’m going out for a tab, give me a shout when he’s picked something’, ‘right you are’. In the end I plumped for three ‘Harlequins’ very striking fish with large triangular black tails. The girl bagged them up and we headed home.

Tans and Kirsty went to put the kettle on and I set the bag down on the coffee table, the girl hadn’t taped it very well and it wouldn’t sit upright so I placed it on the lazee boy recliner while I took the hood off the tank ‘right Ham that’s the kettle o-‘ The next second was in slow motion. I turned to see Tansy about to sit on the bag of fish ‘Noooooo’ I screamed as she started to bend her legs ‘whaooompppff’. It was a peach of a tackle I lifted her clean off the floor and dumped her nose first into the Axminster. A split second later I scooped the fish up in one hand as the lazee boy recliner toppled on top of her …. then it went very quiet

‘Thanks for coming so quickly’ I said as they wheeled the stretcher out of the front door ‘how long will the neck brace be on for?’, ‘we don’t know sir we will have to x-ray the patient first’, ‘I see I see’. Tansy had been given a sizable pain killing injection but this didn’t stop her screaming ‘It was a fucking spear tackle you bastard’ as they shut the ambulance doors.

‘Thanks for coming, it was luvlee to see you’ My waves were met with another tirade of abuse and the neighbours were starting to stare so I closed the door. ‘Right then my wee fishes, who wants a piece of pakora?’



Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 65

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 13th November 2005

Let me start by saying ‘Flowers are great!’ They come in an array of vibrant colours, fascinating shapes and sizes, not to mention a myriad of intoxicating scents that captivate and enthral. Now before you think ‘oh aye Hams getting a little light on the loafers’ I’m singing the praises of flowers for a reason. I like flowers (in the garden) they are easy on the eye, provide a reasonably pleasant aroma, conveniently hide the weeds, cat turds (which cats don’t bury by the way) and empty beer cans. But most importantly of all they keep the wasps and bees away from my grub and me.

So garden flowers I’m all for. Painted flowers on the other hand I loathe. Specifically flowers painted on to a wallpaper border. Why? Hmmmm? I mean why the border never mind the fecking flowers. Imagine the scene, your wallpapering a room and you step back to admire your work. Every sheet is ramrod straight, precisely finished top and bottom. Professional decorators couldn’t have made a better job, it’s perfect. At this point you should fix a satisfied smile on your face, down tools, and relax with a well-deserved brew. In other words leave the wallpaper, drop your brush and step away from the wall….

Yet somehow you think it needs finishing? You can’t get rid of the strange nagging feeling that something is missing? (it’s your cerebrum) Here is some free advice, the only thing it needs is to be left well alone. What it certainly doesn’t need is a roll of shiny novelty toilet roll applied liberally across the room at head height. In the name of all that’s unholy what were ye thinking of? That’s like restoring a vintage sports car, respraying it in classic British racing green, rebuilding the original four point six litre engine. Sourcing original wood for the burr walnut dash and rosewood steering wheel, reupholstering the entire interior with blood red leather. It’s in concourse condition and then you put a sticker on the boot saying ‘my other car is a mini’ Thereby giving it that craved for personal touch and also telling the world you are a total dick.

Unfortunately a previous (clearly retarded) owner of my property had seen fit to put up a floral border in the master bedroom, hark at me and my master bedroom, it’s in the West wing you know! Ahem, anyway this border has a repeating pattern of purple roses that look like they have been drawn by a four year old. It is awful and I just couldn’t take it any longer, it had to go. I’d been living in the shed for nearly eight months and winter was coming after all.

I donned my boiler suit and tooled up with wallpaper steamer and pointy scraper thing. You know the one, it’s not quite a triangle, it’s got two sharp straight sides and a wee curved side (for no discernible reason I might add) ‘Right pal’ I mumbled rolling up my sleeves ‘Am gonna sort oot your hash’ The steamer was bubbling away nosily and plumes of white vapour were filling the room ‘Ho ho now we’ll see what yer made of’

I clutched the handle and lifted the head of the steamer, it was hissing and spitting noisily, the pressure was making the rubber hose twitch in my hand ‘be still my beauty’ I mumbled gazing at the drops of crystal clear water dripping off the edges. Which was all very fine until a drop of crystal clear boiling water landed on my forearm ‘Oooh ya bas! Ooyah ooyah oyaah’ I held it out at arms length and rubbed my reddening skin ‘jeeeesus fu-‘

The hose was starting to twitch quite violently now so quickly I pressed the heated square against the border and held it firmly. Puffs of steam escaped from the sides as the heat and moisture saturated the paper. Temporarily forgetting the danger from my ‘B&Q economy stripper’ I started to enjoy myself ‘ha ha ha die border die!’ I cackled. I could see the border crumpling and got to work with my scraper ‘Oh ya beauty’ I laughed as the paper peeled off in great handfuls ‘goodbye minging roses, farewell disgusting flowers’, ‘au revoir scabby-‘, ‘Oh for fu-‘

My glee was short lived for two reasons. The hated roses had indeed peeled off but only to reveal a second border underneath, daffodils this time! But more pressingly my steam stripper was now becoming very difficult to control. Unfortunately I had also filled it to the maximum level giving me a hefty seventy minutes stripping time. This had seemed a strong selling point when I had parted with my £3.99. Now as I rode my bucking bronco steamer hose I was wishing I’d lashed out the extra twenty notes required for one with a safety cut out switch.

‘Woooaaah’ On the plus side the paper was positively falling off. There was no need for the scraper, unfortunately this was all the paper that was falling off not just the border. My feet were starting to get caught up in the reams of curled up wallpaper building up round my boots. Twenty minutes in and I had to use all my weight just to keep the steamer from shooting off the wall. It had already removed all the paper from the room and quite a section of the plaster underneath.

Snivelling I tried to reach down and switch off the steamer but as soon as I took my hand off, the hose started whipping about in my hand. My feet were snared up in paper and completely trapped. I was going to have to wait till it quite literally ran out of steam. The plaster was starting to soften underneath the intense heat and I was beginning to panic. Ok so I was already panicking now I was bricking it. With great effort I managed to slide the steamer head on to a cupboard door, it had to be more resilient than plasterboard? Well possibly if it had been a two-foot thick solid oak door, but as it was another B&Q special it wasn’t long before it started to creak and groan under the strain.

‘I want my mummy’ I whimpered as I remembered my ‘wooden’ door was in fact composed of thinly laminated MDF. Now dissolving under the onslaught of steam. Tears were rolling down my cheeks when I heard the steamer cough and splutter twice, the wriggling hose seemed to lose some fight, glancing down I saw the reservoir was nearly empty ‘Oh thank Christ’ I mumbled. Then fell through the door.

Which in itself wouldn’t have been too bad but only my top half fell through the hole. The lower half of my torso was exposed to a dying jet of steam expelled from the machine as the hose was torn out on my way through the door. Even in it’s death throws it managed to get the last word in!

Boiler suit is quite an appropriate name, anyone for steamed spuds?


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