Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 79

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 12th March 06

‘C’mon get yer skates on it’s nearly one o’clock’, ‘just hud yer horses laddy there’s nae a fire’, ‘no but there are cheap pies and beans at the club so shift yer airse!’ My brother shook his head and gave me a withering glare ‘What are ye like? You only ever think of yer gut don’t ye!’, ‘Did I mention beers are half priceoooompff’ By the time I picked myself up he was already in the car and frantically honking the horn ‘I think I’ve found his Achilles liver’ I mumbled whilst dusting myself down.

The neighbours were peering out their windows as the cacophony of noise continued. He was bouncing up and down like a sugar-loaded five year old. I slowly and theatrically locked the front door and then strolled up to the car at as leisurely a pace as I could manage. He was giving me the mesma-death stare as I knocked on the drivers’ window. He wound down the window ‘WHAT!’ he shouted ‘I’d imagine you’ll be needing these?’ I smiled, handing him his trousers.

It seemed sensible that I should drive while he wrestled with his jeans in the back of the car. We were heading up to a local sports club to watch the latest round of the six nations. They were having a drinks and pie promotion, which catered perfectly for the Shanks twins. ‘How much further is it?’, ‘dry yer eyes laddy it’s up the top of this street’ I replied. Turning left I gunned the engine and then floored it. This was for two reasons, firstly it’s a long steep hill so I wanted some momentum. Secondly, and more importantly, it was my brothers’ car and I wanted to thrash the nuts off his new motor.

‘What’s this little red line for?’ I enquired, pointing at the dashboard and yelling above the roaring engine noise ‘change gear change gear’ he screamed hysterically ‘what? don’t you like this outfit?’, ‘change into second gear yefuuuckingidiot-‘ he yelled whilst pulling his fist back for a head shot. I obliged and we suddenly shot forward with sufficient momentum to make his right cross miss the target and strike the metal stanchion of the headrest instead. Oh such terrible language, I cant possibly repeat what he said, oh my ears are still recovering.

I parked up and we got out of the car. My brother was wrapping a handkerchief round his bloodied hand as he emerged ‘What was that you were saying in the car I didn’t quite catch you?’ I sniggered. If looks could kill I would have been toast ‘Nothing … aww for fuuu- would ye look at the front of my car’, ‘what?’, ‘ye’ve scraped the bumper ye fecking edjit’, ‘what?’ Genuinely worried, I ran round to the front of the car. Its one thing giving the engine a bit of a caning it’s quite another damaging bodywork. I bent down and peered at the bumper. There were no obvious marks ‘I cant see anyth-‘ with a feeling of sudden dread the penny dropped. A fraction of a second later his boot connected ‘ingooomppff’. It’s fortuitous indeed that I have an amply padded rear end, well it would have been had my testicles not born the brunt of the impact. I collapsed and rolled into a protective foetal position, albeit a tad on the late side.

Oh aye, yer right enough, it’s fine’ he replied, strolling inside ‘gnffmmmbaaaastard’

By the time I hobbled into the bar he was sitting at a table with two pints in front of him. I reached out for the nearest pint and he slapped my hand ‘uuuh uuuh uuuh get yer own drink’. Grumbling I limped to the bar and ordered a beer and four pies. ‘Is that everything luv?’, ‘ach gies another couple of pies’

I returned with my porcine booty and sat down. Fraz reached out for a pie and I slapped his hand ‘uuuh uuh uuuh get you own pie’ I retorted in my best sing song petulant five year olds voice. He just shook his head and drained his pint ‘You’re a child’, ‘at least I’m not ugly’ I snapped. Not the wittiest response ever I have to admit but my plums were still aching and I was in no mood to forgive or forget. He sculled the second pint in a one’er and got up ‘I’m getting another drink, want anymore pies fatboy?’ he enquired ‘fmmmuckmmoff’ I mumbled through my second pie.

I watched him stroll off. ‘I’ll give ye pie’ I thought as he stood at the bar with his back to me. I pulled the pastry off the top of one of my pies and tipped the contents of the ashtray inside. Deftly I re-attached the piecrust and sniggered as I placed the rogue pastry back on the plate nearest him. I knew he’d go for another one regardless of my protestations, that’s what he’s like ‘Oh your soooo predictable’ I chuckled as he returned from the bar ‘Not finished your pies yet?’, ‘Oh dear we are losing it in our old age He reached out for the pie of doom as I endeavoured to remain straight faced.

My heart was racing. I tried to act as casually as possible and not to stare at his hand. He was blissfully ignorant, his fingers were about to grasp the contaminated pastry, and oh this was going to be priceless. He scooped the pie up in one fluid movement and twisted it towards his mouth. I silently moved my weight on to my back foot so I could doge the impending collateral spatter. It was inches from his mouth ‘Hello boys’, ‘wha-‘ My sister in law came bounding into the bar and gave my brother a big hug and a kiss. Fraz was still clutching the pie ‘oh what a day I’ve walked for miles, I’m famished’ she picked it out of his hand.

‘Nooooooooo’ I lunged forward and snatched the offending pastry ‘what the bloody hell are you doing!’ My brother looked at me as if I was something he’d scraped off the bottom of his shoe. I quickly proffered the remaining two pies to Shirley ‘have one of these, they are much … uuum warmer’ My brother eyed me suspiciously as Shirl picked the nearest pie, I was lowering the dish when he snatched the last one on the plate ‘Oh look one each’ he smiled, quickly shoving the pie in his mouth.

My face fell, I was left holding the pig in the poke and my brother knew it ‘not having your pie?’ he enquired as he swallowed the last piece and watched the colour drain from my face. Hurriedly I ran through my options, they were limited, a tactical fumble was called for ‘Aye I’m just ….. oh butter fingers’ My brother had anticipated this lame ploy and had caught the descending item long before it hit the floor.

Oh dear oh dear’, ‘perhaps you should hold on with both hands’ he said placing my fingers on either side of the pie ‘there you are’ he continued in his primary school teacher voice ‘now you can yum it all up’, ‘yes well I’m not really that hungry’ I trailed off as his piercing glare bore into me.

Confucius say ‘What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others’ Ham says ‘Just dinnay get caught’

Anyone got a nicorette pie?


Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 78

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e 5th March

Na na na min you’ll be alright’, ‘You’re sure? I mean the internet says the roads ar-‘, ‘look dinna fash yersel loon, the roads are fine’ I glanced across at my monitor. All the dire weather warnings were flashing angrily in bright red text. Big bold Police messages advising motorists to travel only if their journey was ‘absolutely essential’. Forecasts of yet more heavy snow and plummeting temperatures which were going to lead to treacherous driving conditions and lets be honest delivering a sofa to my mother hardly qualifies as an essential journey. I’d decided to phone my elder brother to see what he thought of road conditions, as he was slap bang in the middle of the worst of the weather.

I have to say he wasn’t very understanding. To have suggested there was an issue with the transport links led to a torrent of abuse and the intimation that I was a ‘greeting wee lassy who needed his mammy to hold his hand all the way up the road’. These were the mild insults I might add. After ten minutes of barracking, peer pressure triumphed over common sense. Never mind that one hundred schools were closed in the region, forget comprehensive national television coverage of mountainous snow drifts covering abandoned cars or images of RAF Hercules transporters dropping bails of rations to starving people cut off from help!

Clearly they were just over reacting to a ‘wee bit of snow’. I mean why should I pay any heed to the latest satellite weather tracking or official police advice? Not me no! Evidently the sound of chicken noises being screeched down a phone line were the important deciding factor ‘Aye ok then, I should be up by about nine’ I replied before replacing the phone and raising two fingers at the receiver.

The plan was to head up to Ellon, sorry Ice station Zebra, and deliver a new three-piece suite to my mums’ house. Then we were going to travel even further North towards the polar ice cap, sorry sorry I mean the village of Keith, and transport the old suite to my brothers’ house. Given the four days of heavy snowfall and the howling North Easterly gales that had been battering this part of the country for a week this idea was about as sensible an idea as trying to urinate into a force ten gale; which was a distinct possibility given the forecast, although personally I was going to use my brothers jacket pocket.

I picked up the van from the hire company. My queries as to whether it was front or rear wheel drive were met with a blank stare. I tried to explain why I would prefer front wheel drive; because it is better in wintry conditions as the weight of the engine is over the drive wheels, therby producing greater traction. The spotty youth simply furrowed his one enormous eyebrow and proffered that the vehicle was diesel, any more information than that was clearly in the realms of rocket science. I handed over my bag of peanuts and left him scratching his elbow.

I like to pride myself on being prepared when it comes to winter travel. Being of teuchter extraction I’ve had my fair share of travelling in inclement weather and have learnt to pack accordingly. I prepared a flask of hot sweet tea along with a selection of sandwiches and confectionary. A warm dry change of clothes are obviously essential as are waterproofs, thermals and of course a sleeping bag. I was wondering whether there was going to be any space left for the sofas as I squeezed the last husky inside.

The weather was lovely as I set off. The last rays of the sun were bathing the countryside in a warm orange glow. I slipped a CD into the stereo and trundled off to the sound of Van the Man crooning about the bright side of the road.

The first hour of the journey was fairly uneventful. I had to stop at a garage in Dundee to replenish the sandwich supply, as I’d absent mindedly guzzled most of my emergency rations whilst singing along to Mr Morrison. The young lady on the till had given me a rather odd look as I waddled between the aisles, my waterproof clothing making a loud swishing noise as I gathered up armfuls of sandwiches.

Stores replenished I headed North. The traffic bulletins on the radio had suggested there was no snow until the town of Laurencekirk. Right enough there was nary a flake of snow to be seen for the next thirty miles and I was beginning to think I’d been over reacting packing the skis. I leaned across to swap the CD ‘I think it’s time for The Kaiing uhuu huu-’ I glanced back at the road ‘uooooly fuuuuck’. The road had gone, well obviously it was still there, but it was a bit difficult to pick out from the rest of the white tundra that now filled my horizon.

They had suggested on the radio that there was a ‘sharp delineation’ where the snow started but this was taking the p*ss. No fecking snow, to white out and rapidly deepening drifts in the space of about a foot. Visibility was down to about fifty yards and there was at least three inches of snow on the road. I was only doing about thirty miles an hour but I could feel all my muscles tensing as I searched for the road ahead. Heavy snow and headlights don’t really mix; the falling flakes can be quite hypnotic.

Determined to stay focused I was clutching grimly on to the steering wheel, my eyes bulging out as I strained to make out the road. Flake after mesmerising flake of fluffy white snow streamed in front of my eyes. My eyelids were becoming heavier and a warm sleepy feeling was flooding over me. Suddenly the van snaked across the road ‘shiiiiiiiit’ I squealed as I flapped hopelessly at the wheel. Now in winter conditions, less is more, when it comes to vehicular inputs. In other words ‘go canny’ don’t make rapid movements and certainly don’t hit the brake or accelerator.

In my state of sphincter loosening panic I did all three. You wouldn’t have thought it possible to dance the Bolero in a transit van, but it is. My triple axle was slightly under rotated but I felt I more than made up for it with my double tyre loop and the finishing spin involved only minimal lateral travel. Miraculously I ended up facing the correct direction. Chastened by my near death excursion the remainder of the journey was in first gear.

It was midnight when I arrived at my mums ‘Ham I was worried sick-‘ I tore past my mum ‘Youbaaastaaard’ I’d caught sight of my brother standing behind my mum. He was making faces and pointing at his watch. I lunged at him ‘Ham stop that! Stop it, stop it!’ It’s been quite a number of years since my mother has had to separate her feuding offspring and I’m astonished she still had the big slipper!

Thirty Seven years old and sent to my bed without my dinner, oh the shame.


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