Monday, January 29, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 114

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 28th January 2007

It’s the end of January, I’m getting togged up in my kilt, it has tae be Burns night. For those of you unfamiliar with the occasion it is a very Scottish event where proud Scotsmen and women gather together to celebrate the work of our most famous bard, Rabbie Burns. There’s singing, dancing and poetry readings, it’s all very cultured. The fact that everybody gets roaring drunk is purely coincidental.

I was pouring a dram and reeling off a wee bit of the bards finer works as I put the finishing touch to my outfit ‘Fair Fa’ your honest sonsie face, great chieftain of the pudding race! Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place, painch, tri-Beep Beep Beeeeep! ‘Och for f-‘ beeeeeeeeeeep ‘-ake’ Dropping the bow tie I’d been wrestling with I angrily pulled back the curtains and peered outside.

Sadly it wasn’t a road runner that was making all the noise. It was our hired transport. I could see a shabby white saloon car parked outside, its cracked plastic ‘TAXI’ sign flickering a dirty off-yellow colour in the gathering darkness. I glanced at my watch ‘what’s his problem were not late, he’s early’ I growled as our chauffeur started leaning on the horn once again ‘you’re not going to cause a scene are you’ mumbled Mrs Shanks as she applied her lip gloss. All the neighbours curtains were twitching now as dial-a-cretin continued playing the dance of the sugarplum bawbags on the centre of his steering wheel ‘No no, I’m just going to have a quiet word dear’ I replied as I marched down the stairs and out the front door.

As I strode towards the vehicle I could see that the driver was on the large side of enormous, his stubby fat arms were nestling on top of a gigantic stomach and I was quite surprised he could even reach the steering wheel. He was still giving it laldy when I tapped on his window. Grudgingly he stopped making a din and wound his window down a few inches to talk to me, the verbal tirade I was about to deliver fell slightly flat when I was hit full in the face with the fetid stench of onion and three day fermented body odour ‘Taxi fer Shanks’ he grunted as I rubbed my stinging eyes ‘’ I replied weakly, my anger now dissipating ‘hurry up you’re late’ he retorted …… this was sufficient to re-ignite the blue touch paper

No Jabba, you’re early’ I snapped angrily ‘and if you’d bothered to put down your munchie box and look at the time ye might have realised that!’ I poked him violently in the chest with my middle finger, immediately regretting it, as disappeared to the knuckle between two rolls of fat ‘and why do you feel it necessary to disturb the entire street to pick up one fare?’ I enquired after hastily withdrawing my finger ‘hmmmm?’, ‘you could have phoned me to tell me you were waiting outside you cretin’ I continued ‘if your chubby sausage fingers are too fat too use the phone you should have radioed your base to do it’, ‘Or, and I realise this might sound ridiculous, but you could have actually got off yer lazy fat backside, walked to my front door, and rung the fuuuuucking doorbell!’ I roared, drenching his piggy face in white spittle.

Our blubbery friend was now in a full blown panic in the face of my ranting, he was fumbling to wind up the window whilst simultaneously scrabbling for the ignition keys as I continued bellowing abuse through the ever narrowing gap in the window. Eventually he managed to engage his faculties, and the correct gear, as his vehicle departed in a plume of grey tyre smoke.

All sorted then dear?’ enquired Mrs Shanks as I stomped back into the house with a face like thunder ‘I’ve decided we will be using a different taxi company from now on’ she rolled her eyes and sighed ‘another one, are there any left we can use?’ I stared longingly at my untouched whisky then picked up my car keys ‘yes, Shanks Ponies, a very reliable company I believe! Shall we go?’

My altercation with big daddy meant we only just made it to the supper venue in time. We sat down just as the haggis was getting piped in. This is very traditional, although I imagine to the uninitiated it may look like a man in a skirt blowing into an understandably distressed octopus. This is not the case, bagpipes are supposed to sound like that. The sweaty looking man who trails behind and parades the ovine entrails on a silver platter is in fact a chef. And yes that’s what you’re eating for dinner tonight. But don’t worry if you’re not sure what’s in a haggis, you are about to find out …… graphically ….

A man is about to disembowel said haggis with a large knife whilst gibbering away in a foreign tongue, or so it will seem. There is no cause for alarm; he is actually performing ‘address to a haggis’ and not an escaped mental patient. Police intervention is not required. Sit back and enjoy the work of the bard.

‘Address to a haggis’ is one of Burns seminal works. I shant recite the whole poem, what I will try to do is give you the ‘essence’ of what I think Burns was trying to say. First of all you have to remember the era, the Jacobite Rebellion had not long fallen on its arse, the French were lopping the heads off their aristocracy, and the yanks had just won independence. Relations between Scotland and England were as usual ‘strained’ What did the Scots have that was unique? The haggis, all the bits you wouldn’t normally eat, with a handful of oatmeal, and encased in an animals stomach. Some might say it looks like the animal had already eaten it.

It’s a great poem. One of the verses says: Is there that owre his French ragout, Or olio that wad staw a sow, Or fricassee wad mak her spew, Wi' perfect sconner, Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view, On sic a dinner? He’s saying French food is for lassies, Haggis is for men. If you think otherwise, you are a snob. In subsequent verses he has a pop at the fighting ability of foes that don’t eat haggis and how ‘haggis power’ makes the Scots invincible. If Popeye was a Jock he’d eat haggis not spinach, ‘uhgg ugg uggg ugggg I needsk me haggisk uuugg uggg uggg’ and Olive Oil would be probably be seventeen stone and called ‘Saturated Senga’

Burns was really using the haggis to demonstrate his nationalism, he was saying ‘yes it tastes like shite, but you are just a poof if you cant eat it’, ‘we can, so we are nails’, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’

And unlike us, he didn’t have to listen to several middle aged woman mangling the folk songs he wrote and collected as he tucked into his oaty sheep entrails!

Nae wonder we all get pished! Hoots mon whaurs ma liver


Ps I actually like haggis; it tastes better than it sounds ….. It’d have to …

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 113

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 21st January 2007

So she’s been evicted! Hurray, good riddance to bad rubbish I hear you cry, well those of you that watch the inane drivel that is ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ The wicked witch Jade has been cast out of the house. Unfortunately she wasn’t torn to shreds by a baying crowd because Channel 4 bottled it at the last minute. The equally vapid morons who actually go down to this ‘house’ and scream at the celebrities as they are evicted were dispersed with water cannon before our cretinous friend was pushed out the front door, shaking in her urine filled boots.

Even if you aren’t a fan of this particular type of entertainment you can hardly have escaped the furore it triggered last week. The antics of one imbecilic young woman, cooped up on a television game show, have caused an international incident and now jeopardise Anglo-Indian relations. Channel 4 must be rubbing their hands with glee!

Their ratings were going down the pan a week ago. Nobody cared much for a dozen Z-list ‘celebs’ that were trying to resurrect their careers with a last throw of the showbiz dice. Conned by their own agents into entering, the poor fools didn’t know what they are letting themselves in for; ‘Celebrity big brother?’, ‘Well I don’t actually have any brothers but yes I’ll do it’ the lure of the word celebrity too much for these once famous fallen idols. Oblivious to the public humiliation, pain and final degrading end to their career that now awaits them.

Which does make it particularly ironic is that the only person who had actually been in the house before, and might have an idea of its impact, is the individual who flaps her gob and inspires the burning of effigies on the streets of Mumbai! Her ill thought out comments making the front pages of all the newspapers, broadsheets and redtops alike. Her staggering idiocy eliciting questions in the House of Commons, enraging the masses and her subsequent eviction ‘delighting’ the Mayor of London.

Has the world gone mad? Yes Jade is thicker than a triple decker sandwich, but we all knew that. For pities sake the girl’s whole claim to fame is being dense. Sorry I meant loud and dense, no actually it’s loud, foul-mouthed and dense, no hold on it’s loud, foul-mouthed, imbecilic, obtuse ……. You get the idea

Apart from anything else have we also forgotten what big brother is all about? The whole concept of the program is about engineering conflict. You could take a dozen of the holiest people in the world and placed them in the big brother house. After a week of being stuck togther, carrying out stupid ‘tasks’, carefully rationed starvation and sharing one cludge they would all be at each others throats…….

‘Four twenty five in the Big Brootha house; Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama are out in the garden, disagreements over the state of the toilet have come to a head’ Camera changes to a view of the garden, the two holy men are stripped to the waist and squaring up to each other, the rest of the housemates are surrounding them in a frenzied circle. Mother Teresa is running a book.

The DL has his arm stretched out, palm facing upwards, and is gesturing the aging Archbishop towards him with a gentle flexing of the fingers ‘Cmon you baldy old coot, take off that damn dog collar and fight like a man!’ Tutu snatches it off and throws it to the ground ‘Oh maaaan you’ve been riding my back all week, I’m gonna enjoy tearing you a new asshole you muhfuh!’ he retorts angrily.

Cagily they pace round the circle weighing each other up, the occasional cracking of an arthritic joint breaking the tense silence. Five days of quarter-rations courtesy of Ghandi failing the weekly task has already left tempers on edge. The piss covered toilet seat was the straw that broke the camels back for our Tibetan chum. If only he’d known it was Benedict the XVI that had the shaky hand. Nobody likes a crusty toilet seat but he’s picked a fight with the wrong man.

It doesn’t matter now, he’s called him out and this is only going to end one way. The Lama is poised in a martial art stance ‘Is that the Tiger stance you doing there nappy boy?’ taunts the 1984 Noble Laureate ‘I always knew you wus a pussy!’. The DL’s nostrils flare in anger and he fixes the bespectacled cleric with a steely glare ‘you’re going doooooown tutu, waaay down’ and with loud blood curdling screams they both attack! Suddenly the action freezes and Davina pops up ‘Who will win the clash of the clerics?’, ‘find out in three minutes, after a message from our sponsors’

Now that would be worth watching! I would probably have the music from ‘The good the bad and the ugly’ playing over the tannoy as they fought. Definite scope for some slow motion action shots as well. Extra sound effects as teeth are dislodged and groins kicked. Possibly topless totty carrying big cards between rounds to add a bit of class to the whole proceedings. I think I’ll put the idea to channel 4, they don’t seem to have any shame as it is……..

Ridiculous you say? I think it’s a winner but lets move swiftly back to reality and answer the burning question. Is Jade a racist? I don’t know, nobody does except Jade, but opinions are like ar*eholes, everyone has one. So let me break wind with mine.

Personally I think she felt insecure in the presence of a beautiful, middle class, well educated, articulate and teetotal woman. Not an awful lot in common with Jade lets be honest. Jade wanted to be the centre of attention and Shipla was in the way. The fact that she was Asian probably didn’t come into it. Jade doesn’t have the gumption to be racist, that would require her engaging her cerebrum before flapping her lip.

‘But she took the mick out of her accent’ I hear you cry. Would anybody say anything if she mimicked an Irish accent? Welsh? Scottish? Brummy? ‘Oi are yoooow calling me a broooomy’ ……

Yes racism is a big problem but personally I’d prefer it if we concentrated on stamping out the nutters with swastikas tattooed on to their throats who are holocaust deniers, or perhaps erradicating the various caste systems of discrimination in Africa, India, Korea, Japan, Latin America, Nepal, Sri Laka and the Yemen to mention a few.

‘Oooh that’s a bit heavy Ham’ and you’re be right. Because there are slightly more important things than baying for the blood of a talentless nobody who became famous for being thick and unsurprisingly has made a very thick comment! Jings I cant believe we never saw that one coming! Let’s get a grip shall we?


Sunday, January 14, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 112

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 14th January 2007

January, I think you’ll agree, is not the best month of the year, in fact if we are being brutally honest - it’s the worst. Everyone is on a massive downer as two weeks of constant partying have just come to an end and reality is kicking in mighty hard. Payday is a distant speck on the horizon and other than the seventeen pounds of festering turkey carcass which is turning green in your fridge, the cupboards are bare. Chocolate money, whilst tasty, has yet to be deemed legal tender in the UK so you are going to have to survive on Christmas leftovers for a month.

The lack of daylight and the constant rain simply adds to your misery ‘The shortest day was three weeks ago’ you cry as you stare forlornly out the window as yet another bank of dark, rain-laden, clouds blow in. The sun probably is shining but you can’t actually be sure as it fails to penetrate the mass of thick brooding clouds which completely surrounds you.

My theory is that January must be the month the gods do their annual rain audit. Some minor deity is going to really get it in the neck if he doesn’t meet his key performance indicators before the end of the month and the boss is on the rampage. Probably caught out by a random inspection while he’s having a sly smoke somewhere round the back of Olympus ‘Sh.h.h.h.hit here comes Zeus’ he stammers as the big man marches closer, ‘and he’s got a clipboard’ he wails whilst feverishly stamping a sandal on his smouldering rollup. Time to press the big red panic button and ditch six million gallons of excess precipitation on Scotland.

Yes it does sound fanciful, but no more unbelievable than this ‘global warming’ nonsense. I mean, are you warm? I rest my case.

I have also noticed that gyms prey on us during these gloomy times. We’ve all put on a few extra *pounds/stones/tonnes (*delete as appropriate) over the festivities which we are understandably keen to shed. Unfortunately this puppy fat is indeed ‘not just for Christmas’ and turns out to be much harder to take off than it was to put on. Nestling another turkey pie on your stomach you take a swift glug of left over goose fat and flick on the television. What do you see over the crest of your man breasts? An advert for ‘free’ gym membership.

You certainly wouldn’t catch me being lured by a freebee or by the enticing bright neon colours, the prospect of brightly lit interiors and the Lycra clad honey taking fitness classes, I am made of sterner stuff.

So is it the introductory offer you are after Mr Shanks?’ ……. ‘Mr Shanks?’, ‘Hmm?’, ‘what?, yes yes, sorry I was just …. distracted …’ she followed my gaze ‘I’m afraid the aerobics classes are not included in our introductory offer’, ‘right, absolutely, fine fine’ I mumbled turning a deep crimson. The receptionist pulled out a sheaf of forms and a clipboard ‘Right Mr Shanks if you just pop along to the fitness suite and hand these completed forms to the instructor you will receive your induction

I followed the yellow line towards the fitness suite where I was met by an enormous gentleman with a neck the size of a Gorilla. He grunted and pointed to a table where I could fill out the forms. There was no sign of the spandex clad babe from the advert.

The first few questions were straight forward enough, name, age, date of birth, gender ‘Ach this is a dawdle’ I turned the page ‘Have you ever had any significant medical condition?’, ‘Hmm’ I wasn’t sure what was meant by ‘significant’ so I approached the gentleman with the rolltop neck ‘Excuse me, could you help me with-‘I hadn’t noticed that he was tucking into half a cow at the time. A deep growling noise was emanating from the back of his throat and his red piggy eyes bore into me. Carefully I stepped back towards my chair, the snarling subsided and he returned to devouring his kill.

‘Ooookay, we will put a No for that one then’

The questionnaire became progressively more detailed. Had I ever suffered from dizzy spells or fits, what is my blood pressure systolic/diastolic in millimetres of mercury? Devoid of a sphygmomanometer and unwilling to risk any limbs asking the ogre at the reception desk I had to make a guess ‘Uuuum let’s say 25/12, cant be far away’ The rest of the questions were multi-guess so I just ticked them randomly ‘ach nobody reads these things anyway’ I muttered.

Having completed the forms I was getting concerned that the Neanderthal gentleman currently sleeping off his large carnivorous repast was indeed going to be carrying out my induction ‘Well at least he’s well fed’ I thought, desperately seeking a silver lining. No sooner had the thought passed my mind; I was treated to a platinum lining.

Mr Shanks is it?’ purred a silky smooth voice behind me. I spun around and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Think Cameron Diaz mixed with Ursula Andress, buttered with Raquel Welch and gift wrapped in lycra ‘Ham Shanks?’, ‘mwuuah’, ‘I’ll take that as a yes’, I’ll need to go through your form before we start’, ‘smnggfm’, ‘okay’, she flicked over a couple of pages ‘uhuu your blood pressure seems a little bit low but I think we can assume you just don’t know what you’re talking about cant we?’, ‘mnfffgmm’, she rolled her eyes in dismay ‘riiight let’s get started then’

First piece of apparatus to be explained was the treadmill. She showed me the controls then asked me to watch as she demonstrated ‘correct technique’. It was torture. Too much jiggling, such tight Lycra. I have to admit libidinous thoughts were going through my head. I fought hard to conceal my ‘admiration’ for the lady but I was already sweating profusely. Wiggling to a halt she hopped off ‘your turn now

I hobbled on to the end of the belt ‘have you hurt your back?’, ’no no, I always start running like this’ I mumbled as I crabbed up to speed. Having already been sweating like a man who’d played an hour of squash the minimal exertion meant I was now dripping profusely. The wet running surface and my crouched running style did not compliment each other well. Tripping forward I grabbed for the large red stop button but caught the accelerate switch instead ‘Woooaah‘ I fluttered briefly above the whizzing belt, the toes of my trainers stuttering against the blurring rubber before my sweaty hands lost their grip and I was shot out the back like a chunky Polaris missile.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. I should still have a couple weeks left of my introductory offer by the time I get out of hospital.


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Ham Shanks secret Diary - Part 111

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 7th January 2007

‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot’, ‘la la la la la la-ever brought to mind’, ‘la la la mmmm’ humming quietly I carefully dabbed on the last few streaks of glue. It was Hogmanay and the bells of midnight were fast approaching. I was residing at a good friend’s house in the depths of the Aberdeenshire countryside and was determined to ‘first-foot’ them properly.

For those of you unfamiliar with the custom of First-Footing. It is an ancient Scottish tradition carried out after midnight on the 31st December. The first person to cross the threshold of your house in the New Year will determine the kind of luck you’re family will have for the rest of that year, or so it is said. The ideal first-footer should be tall, dark haired and handsome. He should also be clutching a lump of coal or a parcel of salt. The coal apparently symbolised warmth for the year ahead and the salt represented flavour.

We will gloss over the fact that most people are on mains gas these days and a lump of coal is nothing but a dirty rock now. And let’s not mention that excessive sodium intake significantly increases your risk of hypertension, because if we are honest, when these customs originated you were at much greater risk of being eviscerated by a brown bear or filleted by the antlers of a red stag. Pegging it from a salt induced high blood pressure was not your main concern.

Anyway, not one to break with tradition, my lump of coal was wrapped up and nestling on the dashboard. I’d snuck out just before midnight and concealed myself in my car to ‘prepare’ my first-foot outfit. As I’m six feet in height I would like to think that qualifies me as ‘tall’. Dark haired and handsome were more problematic but after the liberal application of some theatrical glue to my baldy napper I was ready to don my syrup and tick off ‘Dark Hair. I was hoping that sufficient drink would have been consumed by midnight, and with beer goggles on, I could pass for handsome.

The picture on the outside of the wig packet was of a man with luxuriant thick black hair; excitedly I tore off the wrapping and pulled out my new syrup. I held the object up for closer inspection under the interior light. I stared at it for a few moments before slowly lifting up the picture still clutched in my left hand. Gazing slowly from one to the other I could feel my blood pressure rising ‘what the fu-‘

The picture displayed an immaculately styled 1970’s hairdo with feathered cut and fetching side parting. Unfortunately I appeared to have received an item of road kill! It was indeed black and it looked like it contained feathers, therein the similarities to the proffered image ended. The hopes of increasing my handsomeness by the addition of a new flowing mane had now been cruelly dashed. However midnight was fast approaching and I was bloody well going to be their first-foot. Hastily I donned the mangled rooster, grabbed my lump of coal, and headed for the front door.

I could hear the bells ringing on TV and a few fireworks shot up in air from the surrounding countryside as I pressed the doorbell ‘Oh they will love this’ I chuckled under my breath as the door began to open ‘Happy New YEOOOoooomppf!

Ham?’ Slap! ‘Ham are you alright?’ Slap! Rob continued enthusiastically slapping me round the face ‘I think you’ve killed him’, ‘How was I supposed to know!’ wailed Laura ‘why did he come to the front door dressed as a vagrant anyway?’ the stinging blows eventually roused me from my slumber ’mfggns Happy mmnn New mmYear’ I mumbled as they pulled me to my feet.

Rob headed off outside to check the fireworks as Laura continued my resuscitation with a large dram ‘Sorry I didn’t recognise you with ….’ She glanced at my head …. um hair’ she trailed off lamely ‘No, no, no, my fault entirely’ I replied before draining the whisky and gingerly rubbing my aching jaw ‘The bonfires lit’ she continued, swiftly topping up my empty glass. ‘Great great’ I mumbled before taking another large swig and struggling unsteadily to my feet.

We headed out to the back garden. The bonfire was indeed lit, it was roaring. The force 8 gale which had ruffled my ‘hair’ and raised my kilt in such an alarming manner was now fanning the flames of the fire. You could have forged steel in the embers. Orange and white sparks flew off to be engulfed in the surrounding darkness. The fiery glow periodically lit up the garden and I could make out several of the displays that Rob had carefully set up ‘I take it the chickens are safely tucked up in bed?’ I remarked to Laura ‘Cant imagine they will appreciate the pyrotechnics’, ‘Aye they are shut up in their coop’ she replied, topping up my glass and pointing at what looked like a tin wigwam at the far end of the garden.

I was cocooned in a rosy amber glow by the time the first few fireworks shot into the sky ‘Oooh that’sh a good one’ I slurred as a rocket burst into vibrant red sparks above my head and two roman candles erupted to my right. The display lasted ten minutes and I was very impressed ‘thish ish great Rob, really f’ngreat’ I mumbled cheerily ‘Aye they’re no bad, I’ll just open the second box’, ‘a shecond box!’,‘Bloody great Ha Ha’ I roared, slapping him heartily on the back. Possibly my timing could have been better. I didn’t notice he was holding the second box in his hands at the time.

We both watched in horror as the box tumbled onto the centre of the bonfire. I’d love to say we evacuated the garden in an orderly fashion but I’ve no idea what happened to anyone else I just legged it as fast as I could. With hindsight ‘towards the safety of the house’ would have been a preferable direction. However ‘away from the fire’ was my only concern at the time.

It’s probably poetic justice that I was the only person to suffer any injury, after all it was my fault that we all had to flee for our lives. But you’ll probably be surprised to learn that it wasn’t a burn injury. The chickens already understandably distressed from the numerous loud explosions were less than impressed when I tried to dive in their front door. The narowness of the entrance combined with the broadness of my shoulders prevented anything other than my head admission. One look at my syrup and as far as the chickens were concerned their home had just been ‘invaded’ by a large foreign ‘bird’.

You try explaining it to accident and emergency staff ‘We’ll just put it down as multiple blunt’ish trauma shall we Mr Shanks?’ sniggered the doctor as he examined my skull.


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