Sunday, May 13, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 127

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 13th May 2007

It’s over. The waiting, the pain, and the uncertainty have finally come to an end. Ladies and gentlemen; we have a new Song for Europe! I’ve no idea what the smeg the song is actually about as it was performed in Serbian. At least I think it was? Couldn’t make any sense of it anyway. Although the Irish entry was apparently performed in English; But I didn’t understand a word of that either? However I don’t think that effected eithers overall position. I thought it was a tad harsh when Ireland picked up the wooden spoon, but it was nice to think that the Brits weren’t totally alone on Saturday night. What I mean is presumably everyone in Ireland was hiding behind the sofa cringing when the song that was supposed to represent and symbolize their fine nation was performed; Just as we were when Scooch came on.

Ireland had has so much going for it. It’s a fantastic place to visit and has some of the friendliest and funniest people you could meet. It also has some of the very best music in the world. Stiff Little Fingers, Thin Lizzy, The Undertones, The Pogues, U2 for fecks sake. However, lets not beat about the bush, ‘They can’t stop the spring’ was a fucking dreadful, dreadful, song that mercifully wont live long in the memory.

Personally I didn’t think it was anything like as appalling as our own entry; ‘Flying the Flag (for you)’ which sadly is catchy enough to stick in your brain and torment you for the rest of the day; It’s the auditory equivalent of athletes foot. Incidentally proponents of ‘urine therapy’ claim that athletes’ foot can be cured by urinating on your affected tootsies. I would like to suggest this strategy should anyone stumble across Scoochs’ Euro single. It’s got to be worth a try?

I do feel somewhat unpatriotic in having a pop at our entry but forty countries can’t be wrong. We have to face up to the truth; it was monumentally woeful. I couldn’t quite fathom the need for the line ‘would you like something to suck on for landing sir?’ Perhaps they were aiming for the pink vote? Mind you at least the performers could actually sing this year which was a step up from Jemini.

In the event nineteen points was a fecking miracle, clearly we paid the Maltese government a hefty wad to sabotage their phone lines and direct all votes to the UK number; twelve points! You’re having a giraffe. And the Irish gave us seven points out of pity! Gawrd bless em. Shame we didn’t follow the rest of the block voting trends and reciprocate the favour. I think ‘nul point’ would have been a credible finish for Scooch and a morale victory for music in general.

Having said that I’m sure that a number of the countries would not have been overly impressed with the individuals purporting to represent their nations for a variety of reasons. For instance if I said ‘France’ to you I’m fairly sure you’d probably think of fine wines, world class cuisine, cheeses, onions perhaps, berets, beautiful girls of loose moral fibre …. Eeer now hold on …. Sorry that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Anyway you’re unlikely to think ‘Hmmm France, now they are the country that wears dead cats aren’t they?’

If you were lucky enough to miss Eurovision this year then you’re probably wondering if I have lost my mind; so perhaps I should explain. The French entrants wore a selection of ‘designer garments’ and there was one outfit which particularly caught my eye. It was being sported by a manic baldy guy running around the stage like he’d just snorted a couple of lines of coke. He was togged up in black strides and a pink jacket with a black cat draped across the shoulder. Yes that’s right a cat; as in moggy, as in Felis catus, as in small carnivorous mammal usually found torturing mice, purring loudly or shitting in your flower beds.

I sincerely hope it was a prop and not the real thing. Although having said that the costumes were designed by Jean Paul Gaultier who is the ‘bad boy’ of French fashion. So who knows; it probably was a real moggy under heavy sedation. That’s the kind of keech he would pull. I used to think that the phrase ‘bad boy’ was a reference to JPG’s desire to cause shock and promote thought by being so unconventional in his fashion collections. His desire to push the boundaries and really make people think about what they wear. But I’ve decided it’s just a euphemism for ‘shite’

Now before all you Trinnys’ and Susannahs’ out there start having a pop, I realise I am not the most fashionable man on the planet; Rugby shirts and a pair of Jeans tend not to be seen much on the catwalks of Paris or Milan, other than when worn by cleaning staff or manual labourers shifting props. And yes I didn’t study for a fashion degree at a poncy University so perhaps I’m not in an overly strong position to criticise. However. A dead cat is a dead fecking cat. Can somebody just tell me why? Hmmm? C’mon Trinny pipe up and justify that ya skinny gobshite!

My main problem with fashion is not peoples desire to look their best; that’s perfectly understandable. Just because I dress like a badly stuffed scarecrow myself doesn’t mean I have an aversion to other people making the effort. What gets my dander up is ‘label chasing’ for eedjits like Jean Paul Gaultier. The exact same garment without some designers label on it would be tossed in the bucket with derisory laughter ‘That? I’m not wearing that!’ Shove some overpaid bawbags name on it or spell a word like you’re dyslexic and people are clambering over each other to snap the stuff up. What the fcuk is that all about?

I do apologise, I seem to have digressed from my Eurovision theme somewhat in that last fashion rant. I think what we have to recognise in the UK is that it doesn’t matter what song we put in, or who plays it for us. Up until now I’ve been very harsh on Scooch and Jemini, and shite though they undoubtedly were, even if we entered the Kaiser Chiefs, The Arctic Monkeys or any other chart topping UK band we still wouldn’t win. And that’s because as a nation the UK is ‘Billy nae mates’.

The Eurovision song contest is all about voting for yer pals, and we don’t have any. At least not in Europe, and it’s debatable if we have others anywhere else either. Once we inserted our tongues up the backside of America and stood shoulder to shoulder with the retarded chimp we alienated ourselves from our traditional European allies and now they are paying us back in spades. So basically I think instead of having a pop at Scooch we should blame Tony Blair & George Bush for the UK not winning the 2007 Eurovision song contest.

There I’ve said it and if- ‘knock knock’ …. ‘Hello?’, ‘CI who?’, ‘Patriot what?’, ‘Look all I said wa-ooompppfff!’, ‘ooaaargghh Free The Shanks One!’ ……


Thursday, May 10, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 126

All names have been changed to protect the innocent. Any resemblence to persons living or dead is probably about right



‘Ghostriders’ Private Log – Munich 2007

Picture the scene; The sun is high in the sky, golden rays of light are reflecting off the gleaming wing of a jet plane. A man stands with his hands on his hips; he is clearly the man of the moment. Donning his ray ban aviators he addresses the assembled crowd ‘Gentlemen, Top Gun rules of engagement are written for your safety and for that of your team. They are not flexible, nor am I. Is that clear?’, ‘Sir, yes SIR’ comes the barked response ‘I gotta do something here, I still can believe it. I gotta give you your dream shot! I'm gonna send you up against the best. You characters are going t-‘, ‘This is a final boarding call for passenger Lee travelling to Madrid, please proceed to gate 3b immediately!

The tannoy did drown out the end of what would have been an otherwise perfect Top Gun moment. Undeterred the Stag pulled his dog tags out of his drink and tanned the pint in a one’er; The tone had been set, the stag party was under way…..

Stardate: last weekend. As you may have guessed I’m on a ‘Top Gun’ themed Stag weekend. We are headed for the beautiful city of Munich in bonny Deutschland. Having wisely rejected the first suggested costume of brown shirts, greasy side partings, small taches and jackboots, the Stag wisely plumped for cult 1980’s film Top Gun as his bachelor party theme. A surprise choice considering he was nothing but a glint in his fathers’ eye and two cans of McEwen’s Export away from creation when the film first debuted in 1986. However he had his heart set on a meticulous white naval uniform and a peaked cap so who were we to argue. At least he was marrying a girl!

Sadly the best man was unable to source the required number of American naval uniforms; you’d be astounded how scarce they are in Scotland? However the blue Top Gun t-shirts, mirrored aviators and dog tags he acquired were a pretty good substitute. They certainly complimented our kilts and I particularly liked the fact our ‘callsigns’ were emblazoned across the front of the t-shirts. The stag was of course ‘Maverick’ and the two best men were ‘Goose’ and ‘Iceman’. The remainder of the party were other characters from the movie.

Unfortunately I had been dithering during the planning of the stag weekend and hadn’t confirmed I was definitely going until the very last minute. This meant I was allocated the callsign ‘Ghostrider’ A reference to ‘Maverick & Goose’s’ aircraft in the film. Being given an aircraft name, rather than a character name, did not bother me in the slightest. It was the size of the accompanying t-shirt that was causing me some consternation. Let’s not beat about the bush, I am on the portly side of chunky and tend to plump for an XXL in the t-shirt department. If needs must; I can squeeze into an XL at a push.

You can therefore imagine my horror when the t-shirt was tossed in my direction and it had ‘S’ printed on the label. At least I assume it did, I hadn’t bothered to pack my microscope so I could be 100% sure ‘What’s this?’ I enquired as I examined the tiny piece of lint in the palm of my hand ‘that’s your T-shirt’ replied Iceman ‘come again?’, ‘we weren’t sure if you or Dave were coming so we flipped a coin for the size’, ‘Dave’s a midget is he?’, ‘well he’s not a fatboy if that’s what you mean?’ Not wanting to start the weekend off on the wrong foot by lamping the best man I elected to button my lip.

Having successfully negotiated the bunfight that is the easyjet boarding procedure we settled into our seats and cracked open some tinnys. I could tell the trolley dolly’s were well impressed with our multiple renditions of ‘you’ve lost that loving feeling’ whilst they attempted to enlighten us as to the correct operating procedure for the lifejackets stowed under our seats. So impressed were they in fact that one of them gave us a severe telling off. The safety demonstration is for your benefit she exclaimed whilst puffing out her over painted cheeks in exasperation. She left when I pointed out that we were flying over land for 99.9% of our journey and further enquired whether I was allowed to inflate my lifejacket before leaving the aircraft in the event of us ploughing into the side of a mountain?

There’s not much to do on a two hour flight when you’re on a budget airline and you’ve alienated the cabin crew before take off. In flight movies are the realms of national carriers so I pulled out the tatty in flight magazine and settled down with my bottle of buckfast. ‘Vipers’ wingman ‘Jester’ had been out on the lash the night before so had decided to get some shut-eye by stretching out on an empty set of seats across the aisle. The remainder of the crew ‘entertained’ the other passengers by being very loud and quoting the film to excess.

The time flew by ….. quite literally ….. before we knew it we were pitching up in Munich. A round of applause for a nice landing by a fellow pilot roused Jester from his slumber ‘C’mon Jester were here dude, get your sh*t together’ Blearily he gathered up his knapsack and joined the queue to leave the plane. Here we encountered another downside of travelling ‘budget’; You tend not to be allocated the stances nearest the arrivals hall when you’re flying for twelve pence each way. In fact sometimes; like today, they park the plane in the arse end of nowhere and you have to get a bus to the terminal rather than an air bridge directly inside.

The bus driver seemed unconcerned by fourteen kilted fighter pilots boarding his vehicle; clearly we weren’t the first Top Gun candidates he had taken to Miramar. Within five minutes the bus, like our bladders was full to bursting. Other than driving on the wrong side of the road and taking us the ‘tourist route’ it was a fairly uneventful ten minute journey. A painful ten minutes for Hollywood though, he was regretting his decision to go for nine lagers on the plane. Alighting from the bus we were herded up the stairs to passport control. All was going well. Hollywood had managed to charm his way to the front of the queue by threatening to urinate on anyone who go in his way. The rest of us, to use Top Gun parley, were in the pattern. Unfortunately for one of the crew some unanticipated jet wash was about to throw him into a flat spin.

‘Ihre Papieren bitte’ I handed over my passport and stared straight ahead, the unsmiling gentleman gave me the customary Germanic x-ray glare as I started to panic and sweat profusely. I can’t help it I always feel like a criminal when I get to these fecking control points. After a thorough examination of my papers and all available orifices the officer grudgingly pulled off his rubber gloves and handed my passport back. He waved me through the ‘Welcome to Germany we have decided not to give you a pistol whipping today’ door and I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped into Deutschland.

Things did not go so smoothly for Jester

‘Ihre Papieren bitte’ Jesters face fell as he patted his empty pockets. You could actually see the different emotions running across the poor bastards face. Preliminary white faced panic as he couldn’t locate the document, changing swiftly to red faced horror as he twigs that his passport is still on the plane. An all too brief look of blessed relief before he remembers that the plane is actually five miles away via courtesy bus. You have to remember that this all took place in about a second and a half; he did look like he was having a stroke. Finally the head fell into the hands in despair as he knows it’s gone, gone, gone, woaah woaah woh. The rendition of ‘He’s lost that passport feeling’ by the rest of the Top Gun crew probably didn’t help either.

For some bizarre reason Jester had decided to empty his pockets when he sat down on the plane. Quite why nobody knows? My theory is alien abduction. I think small green beings from a far away galaxy silently removed his cerebrum for the purposes of medical research i.e. a bit of a laugh. The residual drooling carcass went into some sort of automotive response. Pulling out his only means of identification and placing it in the most stupid place you can imagine – seat pocket in front of him. Then for good measure he moved seats so that the pocket nearest was in fact empty – Genius! There’s no way anyone with a brain would do that.

He was probably thinking that it had been a foolish choice as he felt the muzzle of a Hechler & Koch MP5 nudge against the nape of his neck and a sniffer dogs nose half way up his backside. Perhaps it was looking for his passport? Either way it didn’t look a restful position to find yourself in. Possibly the most accurate but inappropriate comment of the day came as Hollywood whispered into Jesters trembling ear ‘For you Tommy ze war is offa’

Extensive negotiations and Top Gun diplomacy failed to secure the release of our colleague ‘Aw go on let him in! We’ll look after him?’, ‘Nein!’ Shrugging I turned to the crew ‘we tried our best’ we all waved our beers at Jester as he was dragged away to the cells. The only option seemed to be to reconvene at the nearest brauhaus and discuss the matter further….

Thankfully the boys in beige were actually quite understanding and after they had carried out several thorough cavity searches and interrogated Jester for a few hours he was released with an ‘emergency 48hr travel pass’. However he was warned that should he not return to the airport in the allotted time he was to be shot on sight. A fair and just compromise I think you’ll agree. Although given the grief ‘Mrs Jester’ had to go through to fax across copies of his driving licence, marriage certificate, birth certificate and suchlike to secure his release I think Jester was seriously considering taking the bullet.

The party had well and truly got under way by the time he caught up with us. International drinking rules had been established and ‘plugging’ season had been declared open. For those of you unfamiliar with plugging, it’s not some kind of sexual deviance, well it probably is, but not in this case. Everyone on the stag had been asked to take a bathroom plug on a chain. The object of plugging is to dunk your plug in someones drink (when they aren’t looking) and if it hits the bottom of the glass before they notice then they have to finish their pint. If they stop your plug in time then you have to drink your own pint. Yes it is a recipe for disaster isn’t it – especially with litre Stein glasses.

Hollywood had been looking forward to this all weekend and the moment plugging season was opened he went a bit mental. I’m fairly sure he had been practicing at home, which goes against the spirit of plugging in my opinion. He started off with a doubler and then threw in two wristy triples and finally a flipover quad to nail every member of the stag in the first thirty seconds. Grudgingly everyone tanned their pints. Of course the downside of declaring war in such a promiscuous fashion is you make a lot of enemies. It wasn’t long before Hollywood was reaping what he’d sown.

The fourth time he was plugged the roar of laughter was immense. Hollywood stood up shakily and raised his Stein to his lips ‘see it away Hollywood’ came the cry and he started to drink. At this juncture I need to point out that we were sitting outside; enjoying the last rays of weak sunshine. Hollywood did indeed ‘see off’ the Stein and thumped it triumphantly back down on the table just as a very large group of Spanish tourists started filing round behind him to get into the brauhaus.

Our cheers and whistles were short lived as we heard the first nervous burp and saw the puce colour wash rapidly over his face, classic warning signs for all Stag veterans. As in all disaster scenarios everything was in slow motion. We all went into auto pilot and reached for our Steins ‘Nooooo to b.l.ow’ came the cry as people dived for cover. The recently guzzled Stein of beer reappeared for a swift encore along with Hollywood’s ‘three wurst’ dinner and portion of sauerkraut. Sadly far too much volume for the single Stein on the table. All the while yet more Spanish tourists filed in behind him as he laid waste to the surrounding area with a bratwurst pebbledash.

And then there was silence.

Gingerly we popped our heads above the parapet, the faint sounds of sirens could be heard in the distance as we stood up and surveyed the carnage. Tables overturned, Steins smashed and tablecloths well beyond the realms of dry cleaning. The sirens were getting louder when Maverick broke the silence ‘Gentlemen’ we all turned to face our leader ‘I feel the need’ (dramatic pause) ‘the need for speed!’ Hoisting the prone Hollywood over our shoulders we tossed a couple of hundred euros at the gobsmacked waiter who had just come out to take our order and we legged it!

An auspicious start to the weekend you might say.

Day two we were allowed to go out in ‘civvies’; dispensing with the kilts we headed to the ‘Englisher Gardens’ where we spent the afternoon recharging our batteries with Steins of lager and a sumptuous repast of fried sausage, roast pork, boiled and fried ham, all draped with rashers of fatty bacon. How the Germans came to be labelled sausage munchers I’ll never know. Anyway it was the ideal way to relax prior to the evening’s main event …..

The best man had booked a traditional brauhaus beer cellar for the evening meal. Somewhere where a group of rowdy Naval aviators could really let their hair down and paaaaartaay …… or so we thought

We should have sussed that perhaps this wasn’t the kind of stag friendly place we had been led to believe when a doorman in a tophat came out to escort us from the taxi into the brauhaus. On being directed downstairs we were met by a Maitre’De who bowed so low his chin scraped across the carpet. I tugged urgently at the best mans elbow ‘Are you sure this is the right place Iceman?’ he dismissed my protestations ‘Chill Ghostrider, this is the place dude’ I wasn’t so sure, I didn’t think a traditional German brauhaus would have a string quartet playing in the corner.

We were escorted to our table and napkins placed on our lap ‘Vould sir like to zee the vinelist?’ enquired the waiter, I was about to reply when Goose interrupted ‘vierzehn bier bitte, und mach schnell’ The waiters mouth hung open for a second before he scuttled off to get our order. I would imagine his mouth was hanging even further open as he watched Goose and Iceman securely attach a Stein to each hand of the groom using a role of gaffer tape. ‘Maverick’ or Edward Steinhands as he was now known also had a pair of pink flowery swimming goggles placed over his eyes. Got to think of safety at all times.

Although after another three full Steins of beer optical safety was far from Mavs mind. He had been rendered ‘handless’ courtesy of the gaffer taped steins and desperately needed to go for a leak! He did plead for some help but no one was willing to be his wingman on this particular sortie. After some discussion it was decided that Iceman as his only blood relative on the mission would have to do the honours. However even he balked at holding Mavericks wedding tackle so he could relieve himself. He did graciously lift Mavs kilt so he could at least piss into the urinal; and all over his shoes as it turned out.

As you can imagine we were making a lot of friends. The Maitre’De was no longer bowing, in fact he was gesticulating wildly at ‘Chipper’, ‘You are zee leader!’ he screamed as we started singing again ‘you must make zem stop’ Chipper shrugged his shoulders ‘no more bier’ yelled the Maitre’De ‘no more bier, I call zee police’ This seemed a good point to bail out as Maverick was heading for a flat spin anyway ‘yoooov losht that luuuvvvin feeling’ he slurred as we carried him bodily up the stairs and towards the exit. With typical German efficiency there were a line of cabs ready and waiting at a taxi rank just outside.

‘Wohin gest du?’ enquired the driver as we ducked down in the back seat until the blue flashing lights had passed by ‘A club!’ roared Maverick, waving a Stein wildly about and knocking out Wolfman in the process. The driver gave us the once over and replied ‘Ja, ok, I think I know a zehr gut place for you gentlemen’ He did pronounce gentlemen in rather a peculiar way, but as we needed to put some distance between us and the brauhaus as quickly as possible we didn’t argue. He put the foot down and we left in a plume of tyre smoke. Hollywood and Viper attempting to ‘de-Stein’ a slavering Maverick whilst I revived the unconscious Wolfman.

Turns out that Munich has rather a large club land, all located on the outskirts of the city. Quite sensible when you think about it, punt all the drunken revellers out to the business parks where nobody lives and you have zero complaints. The taxi driver dropped us outside a large complex of clubs and wished Hollywood success in finding a gay friend for the night. This did not fill us with confidence that we were in the right part of town. However an absence of pink neon signs and leather clad mustachios suggested perhaps his phrase had simply lost something in translation.

Turns out we were in Ostbahnhof. An area of Munich that apparently has over 30 clubs and restaurants ‘there is something for everybody’ claimed a leaflet at our hostel. Everybody it would seem, but us.

We were struggling to find a club that would admit 14 kilted aviators and Maverick was becoming dangerously sober. I say sober when of course I mean he was merely rubbered and not comatose. Just as we were thinking of heading back into town we rounded a corner and saw ‘The Q-Club’. An enormous warehouse like building with green flickering neon signs, spinning searchlights and more importantly, nobody on the door. We were in there like rats up a drain pipe.

It was still only midnight, which is like 6pm in Scotland. The Germans don’t head out till late so when we pitched up inside the club there were only a handful of people at the bar and a few dozen scattered around the seating area, although it was filling up quite quickly. Obviously we stood out like the bollocks on a bulldog and the DJ spotted out Top Gun T-shirts straight away. We had barely got a beer from the bar when the Top Gun theme music blared out over speakers and we were up dancing!

Now you probably know that there aren’t any actual lyrics to the Top Gun Theme tune, it’s just a catchy guitar solo, or if you’re very drunk, a not quite as catchy scream along the lines of ‘Na na naa nanana na naaaaah’ But very loudly and with much waving of arms over your head. The DJ followed it up with a medley of tunes from the official soundtrack album (what were the chances) Kenny Loggins ‘Danger Zone’, Larry Greene ‘through the Fire’ Berlin ‘Take my Breath away’ and finally The Righteous Brothers ‘You’ve lost that luvin feeling’; We were in a frenzy. There were two podiums on either side of the dance floor and they were each lined with kilted aviators dancing like maniacs.

I like to think we were Pans People for the next generation ……

Anyway it was a splendid weekend and I think we built bridges with our German cousins. Nobody mentioned the war (much) and I don’t think we conformed to any national stereotypes for the Scots either ……..

I definitely feel we all earned our wings and graduated from Miramar with dignity and honour ….. na na na nananana naaa NAH NAH NAAH NAAHNAAHHNAAHHH!

‘Tower, this is Ghost rider requesting a flyby’…. ‘That's a negative Ghost rider, the pattern is full


Monday, May 07, 2007


Ham lives! (just)

Guten Tag mein long suffering customers

Ham would just like to reassure you all that he's still alive and reasonably well. The diaries will return very soon but old Hammy has been awfy busy with work and organising touch tournaments.

A recent Stag weekend in Munich was a welcome respite from work but gave his liver and wallet a fair hammering 'For you Tommy ze hangover is not quite offa ....... (we like to pander to stereotypes here at Shanks diaries)

He does intend writing a diary sometime this week and will probably recount his experiences wearing a kilt for three days in Deutchland (never EVER underestimate the chaffing qualities of tartan)

The service has been dreadful of late and all I can say is 'sorry' and 'tough titty, I've been busy'

Kindest Regards


ps Ham was quita an appropriate name for Germany as it appears to be the only kind of meat product available. Five a day in Deutchland consists of bacon, pork, ham, sausages and of course more fecking sausages; Nae luck if yer a veggie!

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