Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 94

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary – w/e 23rd July 2006

‘Okay folks ready to go?’ there were a few pale faces as new players rummaged around the kit bag for a decent fitting shirt. The old hands just mumbled incoherently, cracked open a tinny or ignored me altogether. I ploughed on regardless ‘Now for those of you that haven’t played in this particular tournament before, you need to know that the refereeing is always a bit iffy’ I looked at a sea of blank faces ‘they aren’t proper referees’ I continued ‘they are just players helping out’, ‘so a lot of decisions will be completely mince but there’s no point in losing the heid, just play the whistle’, ‘Right go out there and do us proud’. The new starts trotted out nervously whilst the old hands shook their heads and strolled out mumbling ‘same old shite every year

However my sage words were proved true in the opening minute of the first game when the referee made a howler of an error. One of many as it turned out. For those of you unfamiliar with the game of touch rugby I will explain. The most basic rule of touch is that once you’ve tackled an opponent (i.e. touched them) you have to retreat five metres from where the tackle occurred or you are in an offside position (i.e. you cant touch anyone else) It just gives both sides the space to run and be inventive and stops the game becoming bogged down. Shame the referee forgot this simple rule.

Time and time again the defending side did not retreat the required five metres; one metre would have been nice. It was getting so ridiculous we looked like we were dancing together ‘Oh you tango beautifully’ I winked at one particularly large gentleman as he tackled me a picosecond after tackling one of my team mates. His eyes nearly popped out of his head and he back peddled about thirty metres in double quick time. So clearly the only effective strategy was to mince around and blow kisses if you wanted some space!

As it turned out the lack of space was the least of our problems. A number of our opponents had also forgotten that we were playing ‘touch’ rugby and not full contact. Some of the tackles were verging on the latter. I did try and point this out as I tumbled to the ground after yet another particularly violent ‘touch’. With hindsight shouting ‘what part of touch are ye having problems with ye fecking bawbag!’ was unlikely to spread serenity and peace.

The half time team talk was brief and to the point ‘right if they don’t get back five, we don’t get back five’, ‘if they shove us, we shove them back’, ‘don’t get mad, get even!’, ‘got it?’ there was a flurry of nodding and shouting from the troops ‘Right’ I growled through gritted teeth ‘lets get back out there and kick some fucking arse!’

In retrospect I probably should have tried to put a humorous outlook on things. You know, crack open a beer, laugh it off. Just smile and say ‘hey were here for some fun boys and girls let’s just enjoy’….. but I didn’t …… I blame myself ….

The referee blew for the start of the second half and it became apparent that one of our team was particularly fired up. Normally a very mild mannered and polite young man. (they are the ones you always need to watch) Perhaps he only heard the last sentence of my team talk? Maybe he’d been on the full sugar coke? We will never know, either way he decided to get his retaliation in first…..

I tapped the ball and passed to the individual in question. He actually timed his run beautifully, taking the ball at great pace. Like a runaway express train in fact. He continued running as if on tracks and headed straight and true. The poor sod defending didn’t know what hit him. Like a heat seeking ginger missile our stoked up hero motored through the player knocking him halfway into next week. Not content with mowing him down like a hit and run at a pedestrian crossing he then proceeded to berate the poor chap as he fumbled on the grass looking for his missing teeth.

YER OFFSIDE!’ he bellowed as four of us pulled him away from the concussed fellow ‘shhh shhh Forrest’, ‘it’s okay … shhhh … it’s okay’, ‘Yer offside ye Fnnbaaastaaardd’ he screamed ‘I think you’ve made your point’ I replied in my best ‘talking a jumper down’ voice. It was a somewhat unorthodox reaction, some might even say extreme, but it certainly worked. We suddenly had acres of space as the remaining five opposition players huddled in the centre of the pitch their backs to each other in a defensive circle.

Things didn’t improve in the next few games. Despite sedating Forrest and tying him up in the boot of the car tempers were still fraying and we seemed to be making enemies quicker than flies find sh*t. The Gazebo that Fraser and Vonnie had erected as our ‘snack’ tent had been turned into an emergency triage area. The injuries were coming in thick and fast. One of the girls staggered in with her nose burst wide open ‘jeeesus christ what happened to you’ I asked ‘
fnnnbaaastard dipped his shoulder in my face’ she mumbled through her blood encrusted mouth ‘got my own back though’ she continued whilst waving part of an ear in my direction ‘Are those tooth marks?‘, ‘oh aye’ she replied grinning. ‘Look when I said get even I didn’t mean-‘

I didn’t have time to finish my sentence. I could hear the familiar sound of an angry mob. I peeked out the gazebo door to see a pack of furious touch players marching towards our position. All of a sudden I felt like Custer at Little Bighorn or Davey Crockett at the
Alamo (but without the silly hat) ‘where the hell did they get pitchforks?’ I mumbled as the mob approached.

‘Right guys I don’t want to cause any panic or alarm, but now might be a very good time to call it a day, I don’t think were going to make the final now so just leave everything where it is and make yourselves scarce ….. guys? …… guys?’ I felt the breeze on the back of my neck before I gingerly turned to see the back door fluttering open and empty space all around me ‘aaah’

I could hear the sounds of fists being punched into palms ‘
Knock fecking Knock’ and the door of the gazebo flew open. An extremely large gentleman loomed over me ‘I don’t suppose you’re the Mormons are you?’ ……


Monday, July 24, 2006


Ham Shanks Service Disruption

Morning Readers

Ham would like to apologise for the absence of a diary this week. A few too many cold ones on Saturday night led to Sunday not really happening. Mercifully I was spared a journey on the porcelain bus, however creative juices were thoroughly dried up to say the least.

This combined with Hams progressing years means he hasnt quite recovered and this evenings good intentions of completing the diary were usurped by a wee pensioners nap. Having recently woken up with drool dribbling down my shirt I think it's safe to say it aint happening tonight either!

The abridged version is 'I cannay hud ma drink'

Many apologies for the poor service I'm quietly confident I can knock something together by Wednesday ..... Thursday at the latest ......


Monday, July 17, 2006


Hamish McShanks Secret Diary - Part 93

Hamish McShanks Secret Diary w/e/ 16th July 2006

‘Gnffmmpff’, ‘everything alright?’, ‘aye fine’ I replied. Sweat was pouring off my brow and I strained every muscle in my body in an effort to force the last bag in the boot of the car ‘are you sure?’ asked Mrs Shanks rather uncertainly ‘aye nae bother gnfmmppffaaaah’ with a disturbing tinkling noise the bag finally crumpled into the boot. It wasn’t an encouraging sound and more importantly it wasn’t my bag. My heart sank to my boots as I watched the luggage gradually collapse. Swiftly I shut the door and strode round to the front of the car ‘everything ok?’, ‘aye grand’, ‘it’s just you look a little flushed’, ‘just the excitement of going on holiday my sweet, shall we go?’, ‘drive on McDuff’, ‘were not going to MacDuff are we?’ she shook her head wearily ‘just drive’

We were off to Prestwick Airport to catch a flight to the Emerald Isle and I was really looking forward to it. My last two trips had been short lived and alcohol fuelled. At the end of the day the inside of most pubs are the same wherever you are and chundering into a foreign cludge is no more enjoyable than driving the hometown porcelain bus. This time we were heading to the sticks and I was looking forward to a relaxing holiday.

Things were ok for the first twenty minutes or so. It was a baking hot day and I was regretting not purchasing a car with air conditioning. Mind you for £450 ye cannay expect a/c and a leather interior. As long as the documents aren’t photocopies and your ‘key’ isn’t a screwdriver hammered into the steering column you’re quite happy. At the end of the day ye get what ye pay for. I’d paid for a cheap town runabout, not a motorway cruiser. My little 106 was struggling with the load and feeling the heat.

‘What’s wrong?’, ‘oh nothing ….. I think’, ‘why am I not convinced’, ‘uuuum the uuum temperature uuum warning uuuumm light is kind of flickering’, ‘kind of flickering?’, ‘aye uuum kind of’ I trailed off ‘what does that mean?’, ‘oh nothing to worry about, I’ll just stop and check the water’. I pulled off into the next lay-by and popped open the bonnet. There was no steam emanating for the radiator and a quick inspection underneath did not reveal a puddle of water. Worst case scenario avoided, the radiator appeared intact. I couldn’t check the water level as the engine was still hot and I had no desire for a third degree burn attempting to open the top of the radiator. It was all academic really as I didn’t have any water to top it up with anyway. Time to put on my brave face and reassure the passenger.

Is it ok?’ enquired Mrs S anxiously. Time for some ‘economy’ with the facts ‘aye it looks fine, it was probably just the …. f.f.fflange gasket uuum overdrive … handle eeer dropping down’, ‘is that serious?’, ‘nooooooo’ I replied in a nervous whinny ‘nooo nooo nooo happens all the time, that’s what it’s designed to do’, ‘it’ll be fine’ I continued whilst trying to start the car with crossed fingers ‘thank goodness for that’, ‘yes thank goodness’ I mumbled through dry lips.

Our wee pit stop seemed to have done the trick but as an extra precaution I took my foot of the gas slightly to try and give my wee car a bit less of a caning. The problem seemed to be cured until we hit the other side of Glasgow. Its thirty five miles to Prestwick airport from Glasgow. What I didn’t realise is it’s mostly uphill. Not a steep hill but steep enough to be a challenge for a heavily laden twelve year old car with 90,000 on the clock.

Five miles to go and I knew things were going to go pear shaped when I had to drop yet another gear. I’d tried to avoid it but we were nearly juddering to a stall and snails were overtaking us on the hard shoulder. Mrs S was giving me quizzical looks so I dropped it into second and hit the gas. Within a minute the warning light was on again, this time it stayed on. I had no choice but to pull over ‘what’s happening?’, ‘the warning light is on again’, ‘I thought you said the gasket handle thingy had dropped?’, ’oh aye it has but sometimes the secondary … eeer fidget uuum percussion hoop needs to be adjusted’. Diving onto the hard shoulder I cut the engine and coasted to a halt. I jumped out and popped open the bonnet before there were anymore questions.

Hiding behind the bonnet of the car my mind raced. What was I going to do? What was I going to say? Why hadn’t I checked the water before we left? Why hadn’t I joined the AA or RAC? Why hadn’t I stored water in the car? All academic questions, what was I going to do here and now! Angrily I shook my fist at the engine. This had little effect. Sobbing was similarly fruitless; I needed to add fluid to the car. Fleeting thoughts of urinating in the radiator were quickly dashed as a poached todger was not going to help matters any. And lets be honest it was never going to be long enough to reach anyway.

Five minutes had passed and Mrs S was getting understandably concerned ‘have you adjusted the percussion hoop?’, ‘uuum yes I’m just fine-tuning the eeer return kipper’, ‘the what’, ‘the return …. kipper’ I finished lamely. The sound of the passenger door opening was swiftly followed by a number of brisk footsteps. A shadow stretched over the engine of the car ‘adjusting it with your bare hands are you?’, ‘I can explai-‘, ‘there’s no such thing as a flange gasket overdrive handle, a percussion hoop or a return kipper is there?’, ‘no’ I mumbled ‘you’re talking out of you’re arse aren’t you’, ‘yes’ I whispered nervously ….

C’mon Ham only another couple of hundred yards to go’ breathing heavily I dropped my shoulder and shoved. At least the last two miles had been flat; a few minutes later I collapsed in the car park of ‘long term 3’. I was drenched with sweat my hands were blistered and my face and shirt were black with grime. Wearily I opened the boot of the car and retrieved our luggage, just in time for another hoof in the happy sack ‘Och look at that will you there are no trolleys, looks like we will have to carry our bags

Funnily enough arriving at customs looking decidedly dishevelled, sweating profusely, covered in dirt and resembling an escaped convict tends to arouse the suspicions of her majesty’s custom and excise officers. In their defence I will admit that I didn’t really resemble my passport photograph. How I regretted pulling a face all those years ago. My efforts to mimic the stupid grin in the photograph didn’t help my cause either. Just when ye think yer day can’t get any worse you hear the smack of a rubber glove being pulled on. You think they would give you a stick to bite on ……


Sunday, July 02, 2006


Hamish is aff on holiday!

In Dublins fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on Sweet Molly Malone!

Except I'm nae going to Dublin

I am however setting off for a holiday in The Emerald Isle so shall be off the radar for a couple of weeks. Dont go celebrating yet though, I will be continuing my ramblings upon my return. In fact I'd prime yourself for lots of Irish stereotypes and leprachaun stories .....

You have been warned

Kind Regards


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