Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Dairy - The Reunion

Only a day late folks

Which given the tardy service of late is practically on time!

Aye ok I'll shut up

Kind Regards


ps this one is all true

pps really

ppps really really

Ham Shanks Secret diary w/e 28th Oct 2007 – ‘The Reunion

‘Your friends make your world’ don’t you think. Family are also important, but you don’t choose them. Ye just get stuck wi a greeting faced twin brother and a neep fer an older brother through an accident of birth. You are tied to yer siblings through a combination of genetics and being forced to share a room with them through yer formative years. They are always there, no matter how many times ye move hoose without leaving a forwarding address. Your friends however are made through conscious choice.

This can stem from a shared fondness for the theatre perhaps? Or by supporting the same football team, enjoying the same type of music. Inevitably it is through some kind of collective experience or endeavour that friendships are forged. In the particular case of my two friends who visited this weekend it was not sport, the theatre or music that brought us together, it was a common love of beer. Not just beer you understand, sometimes spirits as well.

I don’t want you to think that we are alcoholics, heavens no! We met in our very early twenties when we were all working in a pub. But in case you get the wrong end of the stick during the course of this weeks diary I shall change their names to protect their identities. For the sake of anonymity I will simply refer to them as Bruce and Greig or Bruce Gavin and Greig Fraser to give them their full fake identities.

It’s been a while since we all saw each other but you can always tell who your real friends are because these are the ones where you just carry on where you left off, be it a day, a year, or ten years since you last met. There are no recriminations for not keeping in touch, just delight at meeting again and for the chance to catch up and enjoy each others company. In this instance it had been over two years since we’d met, I was really looking forward to the weekend as I stood on the platform waiting for their train to arrive.

The Aberdeen trains tends to quite busy and the Stirling platform isnay very big so I thought I better make one of those airport style greeting cards to help draw their attention to me as they alighted, I’d done it on bright orange card so it would really stand out. The train drew in then juddered to a halt with a final metallic squeal. A pneumatic hiss preceded the doors bursting open and I raised my ‘Stan & Ollie’ card aloft as passengers started pouring out on to the platform.

After three or four minutes of scanning faces as they streamed past me, I realised they were nowhere to be seen. My shoulders and arms were starting to ache as I held the card high; still no sign of the dynamic duo. Two more minutes and the platform was empty, the doors of the train had snapped shut again, and the diesel engine roared into life as it departed in a plume of black exhaust fumes. My hands were still aloft as I received a light tap on the shoulder and a voice piped up ‘alright fannybaws yer late!

Turns out they had caught an earlier train and were sitting in the station bar all the time. Supping a cold beer, sniggering, digging each other in the ribs whilst pointing and laughing as I stood out on the platform like a spare dick at a wedding. With hindsight I should have been expecting it; a basic error on my part not to switch my brain to ‘8 year old schoolboy mode’ before they arrived.

Greig was still laughing like a drain as we walked to the car ‘ye can stop anytime ye like ye know’, ‘Ahaaaa haaaaaaaaaa’ his face was going purple as he spluttered and laughed. I looked at my watch ‘when’s your train back?’

My petted lip had all but gone by the time I’d opened my first beer ‘right boys fancy a spot of lunch?’ I enquired as we sat at the house, their bags safely stowed in the spare room. My evil twin had also joined us for the days revelry ‘yer nae cooking are ye?’ asked Bruce ‘no wur gawn oot!’ I replied hotly ‘aye ok then dinna wet yersel min’ he retorted whilst pulling a face. Quite an achievement considering his default expression is that of a professional girner. Shaking my head I glanced at the other two, looking for a response to my query? aye’, ‘yup’ came the replies. Handing out another round of beers I went to order a taxi.

The journey into town only takes ten minutes but tempers were already getting frayed in that short time as Greig recounted a story from the train journey down for the umpteenth time ‘gie it a f*cking rest min, yiv din nothing but mump since we got here!’, ‘well if you hadn’t stabbed me in the back on the train I-’, ‘I didna stab ye in the back, all I did was offer the woman a seat’, ‘she wis a bible basher!’, ‘I didna ken that-‘, ‘she was carrying a bible, wearing a dog collar and asked if she could save our mortal souls!’. ‘Look I was just being a gentleman’ Greig nearly burst at this point ‘a fuuucking road runner couldn’t have caught you the speed ye legged it down the corridor ye prick’, ‘I was-‘, ‘WITH the fuuckingcarryout! Then ye left me to face the music yabaaaas!

My running commentary on the sights of Stirling fell on deaf ears as they set about each other on the floor of the taxi ‘thieving..p.r.iick’, ‘mumping fanooomppff’, ‘and if you look across to your right you can see the Wallace monument’, ‘ah’ve never liked ye ya cu-ooomppff’, ‘Completed in 1869 it was built in the Victorian Gothic style-‘ Bruce’s efforts to twist off Greigs head were interrupted as we arrived at our destination. I let me evil twin pay the driver (perk of sitting in the front seat twinny) and we all stepped/fell out* (* delete as appropriate)

The prospects of a nice cold beer seemed to settle down the Chuckle brothers and we stepped inside for a pre-lunch aperitif. I hailed a waitress as we inserted ourselves in a booth beside the fire ‘Four pints of lager and four steak pies please’ turning to my friends enquiringly ‘you boys want anything?’

The grub was top notch and the freely flowing lager seemed to have cooled things down between Stan and Ollie. After a couple of hours we started to reminisce about the good old days, the average old days and the down right bloody awful days. Greig became particularly animated when we got onto the subject or referees. I’m not entirely certain how we actually got on to this subject but he had certainly saddled his high horse and was riding it big style when we did ‘Aye and the very desire to be a referee should ban you from ever being one’ he roared.

A sentiment to which we would all have agreed had he not accompanied the statement with a sweeping hand gesture that clipped the top of his pint tipping the whole lot in Bruces lap ……

You may have heard of the theory of parallel universes, it’s very popular in science fiction. Well I’m sure in one of those parallel universes Greig just missed the pint and the conversation continued with a chorus of ‘yeah, too right! Refs are b*stards’ from all around the table Or perhaps in another universe Bruce threw a pint over Greigs kecks and a big rammy ensued. However in this Universe something even scarier happened; Bruce said nothing.

He simply got up quietly and crabbed his way to the toilets, gingerly holding his sodden crotch away from his body. Fraz and I looked at each other in disbelief and then across at Greig who was still sitting with his arm extended and his lower jaw resting on the table ‘He took that rather well I thought?’, ‘rather too well?’ replied Fraz with a puzzled expression (or it could have been constipation? Hard to tell)

‘Greig?’ I waved my hand in front of his face ‘Greig?’, ‘Hello?’, ‘I think he’s in shock twinny, perhaps we should-‘ SLAP! ‘Oooyahfuuucker’ I stared at my brother who had just skelped an open hand across Greigs face ‘what the hell are ye doing?’, ‘ye have to; get’s them out of their shockSLAP!Oyyaaa’, ‘Right right, he seems to be with us now so ye-‘ SLAP! ‘stop it STOOOOP’

I picked the dazed Greig off the floor, dusted him down and passed him another lager ‘Okay what’s the deal, why did he spare you?’, ‘he’s just had the snip’ he murmured under his breath, hands shaking as he nursed his beer ‘what?’, ‘he’s a jaffa now’ he continued in a hushed whisper ‘eh? I canna hear ye?’, ‘he had a fecking vasectomy last week!’ bellowed Greig at the top of his lungs ‘Ooooooh’ all the men in the bar adopted a natural protective position over their jewels and winced collectively while the girls just smirked.

Better go and see if he’s all right’ mumbled Greig before stumbling through to the toilets to find him ‘drying’ his trousers under the hand dryer. He was holding the front of the crotch between thumb and forefinger and as far away from his body as possible as the hot air blew over the wet denim ‘eeer am really sorry are ye ok?’, ‘fine’, ‘am really sorry’, ‘it’s ok’, ‘am really really sor-‘, ‘stop saying sorry, it’s ok’, ‘sorr- … eeer right well, I’ll just uum’ bowing and scraping backwards he scuttled back to our table.

Now whilst a hand dryer is dashed handy in the circumstances it’s not exactly a proper tumble dryer. Little opportunity to add a sheet of ‘bounce’ for mountain freshness or fabric softening. The harsh drying tends to add a certain rigidity to a fabric like denim. Not a good feature when you’ve been holding the seam six inches away from your body for half an hour. Let it go and, well, let’s just say it leaves a lasting impression.

It was only the one elderly lady at the bar that actually fainted but the latest style in denim did not go unnoticed by most patrons of the establishment ‘what?’ enquired Bruce as we all sat supping our pints with barely suppressed giggles ‘what’s wrong now?’ he continued, standing with his hands on his hips, a thin shadow casting a line over his pint. We were all snorting into our glasses as he just shook his head ‘f*cking bairns’ Noticing the barmaid reach for the phone and dial a three figure number I suggested we move on to another hostelry.

We secured a window seat at the next establishment, it had a fine view of the ‘performance area’ where we were to be treated to some ‘live’ music courtesy of a James Blunt look-alike with guitar (a student obviously) Now I will admit that I actually like James Blunt, nobody else seems to want to admit to buying his music despite the fact his first album went platinum six times? I guess his mum must have bought an awful lot of copies.

Anyway you can imagine my disappointment when the work-shy young student subjected to us to a medley of the most depressing and obscure songs you have ever heard. A very competent guitar player, I’ll give him that, shame I wanted to garrotte myself with his e-string half way through the first set. After some barracking from the crowd he did play a single Elvis song and had a stab at a couple of Status Quo numbers, but really his heart wasn’t in it.

‘Shall we just head up the road?’ I enquired as a couple of ‘regulars’ started hurling beer bottles at the guys head ‘I’ve got a case of beer and a bottle of malt at home’, ‘aye we might as wellsmashthis isn’t very goodcrash ‘Oh good shot sir’ I applauded loudly. The young man had managed to return a becks bottle to it’s owner with some interest ‘elbow nice and high, an excellent cover drive’, ‘what about a curry?’ suggested my evil twin tinkleAye I could go a ruby’ piped up Greig ‘fair enough, those steak pies were a long time ago’ I replied, ducking under another projectile, wallop! ‘C’mon then, afore the feds arrive’

Five minutes later we were at the door of the restaurant. We could hear the faint sounds of police brutality back up the street as we were escorted to our table ‘Four pints of lager please, oh and a pint of water’ I was feeling a tad parched despite the lager and thought some light rehydration might compliment the days efforts at dehydrating myself and alleviate the following days hangover ‘Oh I’ll have a water as well please’ shouted Greig as the waiter trotted off to get our order.

I’d recommended this particular establishment as it offered a ‘buffet’ meal; as much as you could eat for a tenner. It’s always so difficult to choose when you’ve had a gallon and a half of beer so it’s safest just to go down the Mr Creosote route and ‘av the lot’ It also avoids potential ‘food envy’. The waiter fired the starting pistol and we all sprinted for the big silver trough. I was first back the table having only taken a moderately huge plateful. The rest of the boys were fighting over the last two shovelfuls of chicken pakora as I tucked in my napkin and sipped my water.

In actual fact I’d drained the first pint in two seconds flat and was half way down the second when Greig returned to his seat with his towering plate ‘hey min stop drinking ma f*cking water!’, ‘sorry loon am awfy thirsty’ I replied before greedily guzzling the rest as quick as I could. He shook his head in disbelief before hailing the waiter ‘could I have another glass of water please?’ Bruce and Fraz had called a truce, returning to the table carrying the entire silver trough between them much to the dismay of the remaining patrons queued at the now dismembered buffet table.

Would you believe he drank my water’ exclaimed Greig ‘that you mumping again is it Fannibaws?’ retorted Bruce as the waiter returned with a pint of water ‘he had two fecking pints’ cried out Greig whilst waving a fork in my direction. Before he could reach out for the water Bruce snatched the pint and downed it in one ‘You fuuuucking bas!’, ‘what’s wrong mumpy? Are ye thirsty?’ replied Bruce with a smug grin. Greigs eyes narrowed as he hailed the waiter for a third time ‘could I have another glass of water please

The poor man looked rather non-plusssed; he must have thought it was ground hog day. When he eventually returned with the fresh pint of water Greig was jabbing his fork at Bruce in a rather menacing manner ‘and you can keep yer fecking hands aff this one sunshine‘ Bruce had his hands held up on either side of his head ‘wouldna touch it if ye paid me mumpy’, ‘good cos I’m parched-‘ a loud clunk made him look round. Fraz was placing the empty glass back on the table ‘oh I needed that jings I was thirsty

The look on Greigs face was priceless.

However my joy was short-lived because just at that very moment somebody flicked a switch in my stomach. Spin cycle and hot wash were simultaneously selected. Not a pleasant combination and somewhat unexpected. There were no warning signs whatsoever. Although perhaps drinking heavily could be considered in mitigation. I would have tried a glass of water but I fear a fork up the nose may have been forthcoming from the agitated and dangerously dehydrated Mr Fraser. Instead I opted for the Titus Oates ‘I’m just going outside, I may be some time’ line as I sprinted towards the exit.

It was some time later that the boys piled out of the curry house, Greig was clutching several dozen bottles of water and snarling at the other two. I was hunched over a storm drain praying for an early death as the acid reflux went into overdrive. Sensing the night was over for me they hailed a taxi ‘time to go home Ham, yer nae looking weel son’, ‘gmmf’

The driver, taking note of my puce complexion had decided that speed was of the essence, clearly not wanting me to chunder in his cab. I didn’t disagree with that philosophy in principle; I just didn’t think a roller coaster ride at 70mph through the heart of the toon was likely to make me feel any better either. Thankfully I made it home without disgracing myself (anymore) and staggered in the front door.

Whilst the boys got wired into bottles of beer I grabbed a bottle of gaviscon and headed for the sanctuary of the bathroom. Draining the bottle I slumped onto the floor wrapped my arms round the toilet and waited. I’m not one of these people who can stick their fingers doon their throat and be sick. I’ll do anything to avoid it. I hugged the cool porcelain instead and prayed for death to come.

Four and a half hours I was clinging on to that pot and I’ll tell you something it reminded me why I only go out drinking with those bawbags every two years. Friends make your world? Do they f*ck! They taint and destroy it, they are evil. Don’t trust them! Stick to your relatives at least they are not trying to kill you.

ps it’s also worth noting that exceeding the recommended dosage of any product containing aluminium hydroxide can lead to confusion, drowsiness and loss of mental acuity. Although thankfully I remain unaffected.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Ham Shanks and the Deathly Hangover

Hello readers

Despite the title of this weeks ramblings there is not a single Harry Potter reference so dont panic if ye havnay read the last book.

I had rather a lot to drink this weekend, hence the slight lateness of the diary. Dont worry though I'm never drinking again so it wont happen in future .....

Kindest Regards


Ham Shanks and the Deathly Hangover

You wake, it’s dark; darker than the inside of a Goths bedroom. In fact it’s darker than the inside of a Goths bedroom with your head buried under the duvet, a blindfold over your eyes, your eyelids stapled shut and this all after your eyes have been poked out with a pointy stick. So it’s safe to assume that it’s not very light.

A pungent acrid smell hangs in the air, not dissimilar to rotton eggs and brimstone, it pervades you’re nostrils as you lie listening to the incessant noise of a sledge hammer being smashed repeatedly against the inside of your skull. An impromptu burp evokes memories of last nights ‘wee dram’ that seemed such a good idea at three in the morning but is proving cause for regret. The hint of acidic bile warns of pleasures yet to come and an upcoming ride on the porcelain bus.

However you’ve no time to dwell on the sorrow of your impending chunder because the painfully swollen bladder that roused you from your slumber in the first place is now being rapidly, and I mean very rapidly, trumped by the turtles head emerging distressingly quickly into your boxers. The big fella seems keen for a bite of early morning lettuce and is making a determined bid for freedom. Alarm bells should now be ringing thoughout your body.

So it’s a shame that you pickled your brain in finest malt whisky last night, thereby destroying a large portion of its already dwindling supply of grey matter. A lot of razor quick fiery young neurons bustling about the mid and hindbrain keeping tabs on all those terribly inconvenient autonomic functions would be really handy just now. Instead all you’ve got left are the dodgy old pickled ones that have survived your repeated attempts to poison them. The three ‘wise’ neurons have been reduced to two after last nights little soiree. Now it’s just two old duffers sitting on rocking chairs on the veranda of your forebrain talking about the good old days.

A red faced young neuron has manfully fought his way up from the midbrain, the very last of the brave cells who survived last nights fifteenth glass of twelve year old sherry casked malt ‘message for you sah’ he whispers before collapsing at the feet of the nearest rocking chair. Old Abe picks the chitty out of the dying boys hand ‘Mmm something about the sphincter in trouble?’, ‘whassat? Eh?’ stutters young Mr Vern his aged sidekick ‘Sphingwhat?’, ‘Sphincter, keeps the mmm stuff mm in .. mm or out I can’t mmm rememberbrrinng brriiing ‘whoahwhsaat?’

An old bakelite telephone is jangling itself off the receiver as Abe scratches his head ‘sphincter? Sphincter? Now where’s that again’ Vern stumbles across to the telephone and picks it up hesitantly ‘Allo?’, The voice on the other end sound mighty relieved ‘Oh thank God, it’s the bladder here; we’re in real trouble, and I mean real-‘, ‘Speak up I cants hears ya’, ‘I SAID IT’S THE BLAD-‘ click He replaces the reciever ‘muss be a wrong number’ a nano second later it rings again brrinng brriiing brrinng brriiing ‘DEAR GOD HELP!’, ‘you’ll aves to speak up I aint ad my ears syringed since nineteen oatcake’, ‘WERE BURS-‘, ‘bloody cold callers’ mumbles Vern slamming down the receiver again.

Awoogah Awoogah Awoogah! A klaxon blares out as red and blue lights start flashing above the doddery old cells. Abe shuffles in front of a complicated looking control panel. There are an array of levers in different colours and shapes. Underneath a large red neon button is covered by Perspex safety glass ‘Mmm Now it the mmm blue mmm lever for legs and the yellow one for arms?’, ‘what’s that mmm red one for again?

Brrinng brriiing, brrinng-fecking-brriiing ‘Allo’, ‘Stomach here sir, we need oesophagus and mouth open now! Get those stomach muscles engaged and get this area clear. It’s getting pretty rough down here, there doesn’t seem to be any space the other way and it’s backing up-‘, ‘Ow many times does I av’es to tells ya we don’t want any!’ Vern thrusts the receiver back in it’s cradle and piles a large amount of cushions on top ‘Oi told ya we shoulda gone ex-directory Abe’

Abe’s not listening, he’s trying to remember if the leg bone is connected to the knee bone or the ankle bone and what muscles actually make you stand up ‘Now mmm is it mmm biceps in the mmm leg? Oh no no no it’s pectorals isn’t it mmm’ The muffled sound of a telephone ringing can be faintly heard in the background. Vern has added an upturned sofa on top of the cushions and is hitting the whole lot with his stick ‘Gerrrout of it, oi’ll sets my dogs on ya’

A sound like a hunting horn makes Abe jump and his face is suddenly covered by a thin layer of white dust, he looks around in bewildered fashion ‘mmmm what the mmm I mmm?’ a muffled noise is emanating from a black pipe with a trumpet like mouthpiece at the near end. Tentatively he places it to his ear, frantic shouts can be heard ‘-ear god help us! She cannay take anymore, she gonna blow!’, ‘mmm I’m dreadfully sorry mmmm but we’re rather mmm busy just mmm now’, ‘could you perhaps call back in half an hour mmm?’, ‘half a fuuuckinghour! We don’t have thirty seconds pal, DO SOMETHING!’, ‘oh yes mmm right mmm well thank you for calling mmm

Oh dear mmm it’s been awfully long mmmm’, ‘eany meany miney mo-

Pan back to the external view and witness a very sorry looking Ham trying to hobble and crab his way to the bathroom. Both hands over his mouth in an effort to keep last nights haggis supper from exiting northbound and his backside is clenched so tightly together that there is now no longer any blood reaching his legs. Pins and needles are beginning to set in as he tries to fumble his way to the bathroom in the pitch darkness. Normally he could find it in his sleep but all his senses are being drowned out by the pain in his nether regions

Back in the brain things are not going well. Vern has tied two loaves of bread over his ears and is back sitting on his rocking chair whilst the sofa rings angrily. Abe has given up with levers and is gingerly lifting the Perspex safety glass that covers the red neon button ‘mmm now mmm this ought to do the trick’ A shaky fingers stretches out….

Ham has managed to grab the cord for the bathroom light ‘click’ he can see the cludge; salvation and self respect are almost at hand when a loud hiss begins ‘FfffFfffff’ his eyes open wide. The sound develops into a long drawn out rasp, not unlike a muffled chainsaw. Swiftly followed by a violent clapping noise as if two sirloin steaks were being slapped together repeatedly and vigerously. One final heavy splat and then all is quiet.

Apart from the sound of a tear rolling gently down a cheek …..

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Hams aff his heid

Hello shunned readers

I'd like to apologise for the late delivery of ramblings this week. I took a birrova blow to the back of the heid on Monday night and I've not being feeling top notch ever since. Nothing too serious, just a volleyball skelped on to the back of ma coupon at a couple of hundred miles an hour. The main thing is I'm ok and there is no long term damage.

So I'd just like to apologise for the late delivery of this weeks diary, I received a blow to the back of the head on Thursday which was a tad nippy. Luckily I suffered no long term damage and I'm right as rain now

Anyway the main reason the diary is late is because I received a nasty thump on the back of the old noggin on Tuesday morning, nothing to worry about and thankfully no lasting damage to the the grey matter, but unsettling all the same

I can only apoilogise for the late delivery of the newspaper, took a crack on the skull, volleyball I think? Sunday evening? Anyway, no harm done but did give the pudding a wee bit of a shake inside the old basin, but right as rain now ....

So sorry about the diary, thing is got clattered on the head by ........

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 14th October 2007

Jinx [jingks] – noun 1. a person, thing, or influence supposed to bring bad luck

Now you know me, I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe that walking under ladders will do you any harm per se; ok if there is somebody standing on the top rung of the ladder juggling flaming chainsaws, drinking neat whisky from a bottle and screaming ‘I cant take anymore, I just cant!’ then perhaps a wide berth is to be advised. But that’s hardly down to influences from the spiritual world. He’s up there because his wife has run off with the butcher; nothing unworldly about that.

You’ll also have guessed from previous rants that I’m not really a religious man. I’m not saying that there isn’t some kind of ‘higher presence’ out there. Something that we can’t yet explain, something that exerts an influence over us all. I’m simply saying we don’t know …… actually scratch that, I am saying that there’s nothing out there. It’s all complete b*llocks!

Although recent events have caused me to question that declared assumption (cue X-Files Music) Da da da Dadada da DADA! ‘I asked for X-Files music, not X-fecking factor ye eedjits! That’s the last thing I need, Simon Cowell moping about with petted lip and effeminate hand gestures. Get it fixed sound editors, what don’t I pay you a penny for? Distant crashes and grumblings are heard in the background followed by theatrical blowing of dust and the noisy insertion of a cassette into an ancient tape deck, one final loud clunk and we are in business… Doo de doo doo dooo ‘thaaaaat’s better I can almost see Mulder & Scully’.

So where was I? Oh yes, it was a dark and wet night…… well actually it was a bright and sunny afternoon but that’s hardly foreboding. Doesn’t even remotely bode does a sunny afternoon. Exact opposite of a flipping dark wet night. Sunshine fills you with joy and happiness, an almost uplifting and spiritual experience at this time of year. Not great for a sinister narrative though so we’ll settle for gloomy intervals with intermittent periods of foreboding darkness and a high risk of an overnight curse.

Anyway back to the story; I’m driving doon the road with my elder brother Neil. Were in my shiny new car, I say new when of course I just mean new to me. It’s not actually brand new; in fact it’s seven years old. Still a good deal younger than the faithful old Peugeot I just left up North though. So can’t complain.

It’s been quite an emotional day; saying goodbye to the car that’s kept me mobile these last two years. A lot of memories. I have to admit I shed a tear or two as I transferred the last of my gear out of the old car and into the new. Patting it gently on the roof like you would an old and faithful Labrador dog. Not wanting to be seen by my brother I whispered gently into the window ‘goodbye you old piece of sh*t’ a tear rolling down my cheek ‘you never f*cking started when I really needed ye to’ more tears started to flow as I kicked the tyres ‘WHY!’, ‘I put fuel in you!’ kick ‘I serviced you’ boot ‘WHY!!’ my brother pulled me away as I continued to lash out ‘yooobaaastard!’, ‘Leave it Ham, just leave it

The scrap dealer was also rather non plussed as I sang ‘cheerio cheerio cheerio’ and skipped round his wagon while he winched the lifeless hulk onto the back of his yellow and red vehicle ‘you’re going home in a f*cking ambulance! La la la la laaa’ My brother just shook his head and gestured frantically ‘get in the car for pities sake you’re causing a scene’ Pausing to give my old car the vees three or four more times I finally got into the drivers seat of my new car ‘I looooove you’ I sighed, hugging the steering wheel as my brother rolled his eyes skyward.

Fast forward to the A90 just outside Dundee. It’s an hour and a half later ‘She just runs like a dream!’ I laugh enthusiastically ‘you said’ replies my brother wearily ‘many times’, ‘it’s just fantastic I mean she just runs like a dream’, my brother glances despairingly at his watch ‘uhuuu’, ‘I mean you just press the throttle peddle and vrooom she goes’, ‘fancy pressing it a bit harder so we get there quicker?’, ‘brakes are brilliant’ I continue paying no heed to his efforts to construct a noose out of his shoelaces.

He’s due to be playing volleyball in Dundee and I was supposed to be dropping him off on my way home as a favour for him finding me the great new car. We were a mile or two outside Dumpdee when I glanced at the fuel gauge ‘Oh no! Only three quarters of a tank left, better pull in for some fuel’ Neils eyes lit up as he removed his lace from the rear-view mirror. I flipped on the indicator and headed off the slip road. Before I even pulled to a stop he was scrabbling at the door ‘No no I’ll get this I insis-‘by the time I’d pulled on the handbrake the passenger door was wide open and my brother was a dust blurred dot on the horizon.

‘That must be his warm up’ I mumble whilst filling up the car with unleaded. Even my manic new car grin is unable to elicit a smile from the sour pussed gorgon on the till as she thrusts my change towards me and resumes licking her nettle. I return to the car and buckle up ‘only 60 miles to go and we’re home’ I whisper seductively, waggling my eyebrows at the dashboard. After several checks in the mirror I pull out of the station and onto the slip road, half way down said road the engine starts to splutter and the car begins to kangaroo … ‘what the f-‘ one last violent jolt and it coughs into silence.

Coasting to a stop ten metres from the end of the slip road. I turn the key and the starter motor whines but there is no sign of life from the engine. I try again and again; ten minutes later and the starter motor struggles to even turn as the battery bleeds dry. A forlorn woowoowoo noise peters out into silence and the battery is totally flat. There’s no doubt about it; the motoring Gods have forsaken me.

Dropping to my knees on the side of carriageway I throw my hands in the air, screaming to the sky ‘Whhhhhhhy! WHY ME! WHY!! Salty tears are rolling down my cheeks as I blubber uncontrollably. My arms are still raised aloft as a yellow and red wagon trundles into sight. My jaw drops as I watch the vehicle traverse slowly across my view from right to left. A reddish bronze coloured Peugeot sitting proudly on its back, with a large ‘Sold’ sticker emblazoned across the windscreen. The dealer gives a cheery wave as my head falls into my hands.

I am f*cking jinxed

Doo dee dooo dooo dooooo…..

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Dear Points of View

Hello Folks

Latest installment of ramblings and drivel.

Yes it's late, I know, I know. I could blame the Posties but that would be a fib and my mum told me not to tell fibs.

In a tragic turn for the worse my employer has insisted I actually do some work. This came as a complete shock. I did consult my union representative and he informed me that this is standard practice with most companies. As a result I am quite busy the noo.

To say I'm dissapointed would be an understatement ......

Hope ye enjoy this late submission anyway

Kindest Regards


Ham Shanks ‘Points of view’ w/e 7th Oct 2007

I have received some ‘feedback’ about my last diary; a disgruntled reader took issue to my reference about the ‘real’ world cup being the Rugby world cup and not the football world cup. He took further umbrage at my intimation that oval was the correct shape for a ball. He was quite vociferous on the matter I have to say. Whilst I will concede that a football is obviously spherical in shape and would therefore be more closely associated with the dictionary definition of a ball he merely needs to have a rummage around inside his boxer shorts and decide if the contents of his happy sack are round or oval? Are they balls?

I have to say the recent events at Parkhead in Glasgow did nothing to change my previously voiced opinion of professional footballers and the round ball game. A boozed up ‘fan’ invades the pitch (yes he was a cretin wasn’t he) ‘taps’ the Milan goalie on the chest to congratulate him on his butter fingers which have just handed Celtic the game completely against the run of play. The invader then staggers off, taking another swig of buckie from his bottle. Our slippery handed hero sprints after the fan for half a dozen steps before thinking ‘hold the phone, I think I’ll play my joker card now’ crumples into a heap as if he’s been winged by a snipers bullet from the West Stand and pandemonium ensues.

‘Real’ footballers must shake their heads in disbelief. Because for all I have a pop at participants of the beautiful game; it is a hard game, it can be very physical. Let’s face it you don’t get a puss like Alex McLeish or Steve Bruce by wincing out of a challenge. It’s a shame the ponces up front (and in goal now) let the side down. Clearly Dida needs an anatomy lesson as well. When you’ve been tickled on your right pectoral/deltoid muscle there is little point in holding an ice pack to your left cheek? Similarly even a severe injury to your cheek tends not to affect your legs. Stretchered off? You’re having a giraffe!

Slight discrepancy with say Terry Butcher against Poland where half his brain was hanging oot the side of his head and he was still biting the opponents ankles ‘come back you cowards it’s only a flesh wound’ he screamed as the physio dragged him off for urgent cranial surgery. Okay so the authorities would never allow a player to continue in that condition nowadays and his white shirt may have made things look a tad more dramatic than they actually were but you still have to say ‘nails’

Nails are probably being looked out for Robert McHendry, the Celtic fan who prompted Didas award winning performance. He handed himself into a local police station. What they failed to mention on the six o’clock news was that he didn’t do it out of remorse for his drunken act or for the sake of Celtic football club. He was going to get his knackers nailed to a post if the real fans caught him first. It was protective custody! I believe he’s thinking of moving abroad? Sensible idea; perhaps invest in some plastic surgery as well?

I reckon there are about 80,000 hoops fans willing to carry out the procedure for free, although they will be using a broken bottle rather than the traditional scalpel.

However this minor excitement was detracting me from the real action. Scotland versus Argentina in the quarter final of the Rugby World Cup. Frank Haddens strategy of playing the under 13’s against the All Blacks had paid off handsomely. We cruised* past Italy (* for a given value of cruise) and now it was all to play for. Just three wins away from claiming that Web Ellis trophy ….

I’d travelled to my brothers’ house to watch the quarter final. I was concerned he might still be a little upset over last weekends broken nose ‘incident’ and I knocked on the door with some trepidation. When he answered he was clutching a can of beer and wearing a full hockey goal tenders outfit; not a good sign. ‘Alright bruv?’ I enquired, holding out the massive carry out I had taken by way of a peace offering ‘oh great, doo made it’ he mumbled before gesturing me inside.

‘How’s the … eeer uuum’, ‘de broken doze?’ he interjected ‘yes’ I finished lamely ‘still broken’, ‘right, er, that’s um … good then’ I mumbled whilst avoiding his withering glare and scuttling off to a far away seat. It was in fact the only other available seat in the living room. I couldn’t help but notice it was angled in such a way that I could only see a thin sliver of television. Standing up I grasped both arms of the chair ‘what are oo dooing?’, ‘moving the-‘, ‘cant move it or doo’ll mark de floor’ I glance down at the pock parked carpet, it looked like small wars had already been fought and lost on it, ‘oookay can you turn the telly round then so I can-‘, ‘nope’, ‘but I cant s-‘, ‘nae luck

This would appear to be part of his revenge. Burmese police and dictators of the world take note; don’t waste your time with traditional ‘stress’ positions simply get your prisoner in a room with something they would desperately like to see on telly and they will actively torture themselves. By half time I couldn’t move my neck. It was locked in a half cocked position. Filled with beer I hobbled to the toilet, hitting the doorframe on the way due to my changed visual perspective. My brother laughed so hard beer came out of his nose.

Feeling aggrieved I decided to repay my brothers raucous laughter by being somewhat casual with my ‘aim’ when I did finally pinball my way to the toilet ‘Ooops silly me’ I sniggered as I started sprinkling the toilet seat and carpet with recycled beer ‘how careless of me’ I continued; clenching my buttocks and working my core stability muscles in an effort to reach the medicine cabinet above the sink. I was concentrating hard ‘WHAT DE FUUUCK ARE OO DOOIN?’ and not heard the footsteps behind.

With hindsight, spinning quickly round was not the best idea. Think garden sprinkler, only warmer and yellower. And I was aiming high; head height really …..

But every cloud has a silver lining. The big right hook cricked my neck straight back into place so I’ve saved a visit to the chiropractor. However the same could not be said for the kicks to my gonads; unless their place is supposed to be next to your tonsils? They are out with the remit of chiropractic care but I have to confess this was not foremost in my mind as I folded up onto the bathroom floor with the strangest feeling of déjà vu?

So could the very last match of the world cup be a repeat of the first? France against Argentina? You would have got wild odds for that four weeks ago. Who knows, but one things for sure, I shant be watching it with my brother.

Au revoir mes ami; Alles les Bleus!

Monday, October 01, 2007


Ham Shanks World Cup

Hello Folks

Apologies for yet another late late diary but IT'S THE WORLD CUP!!!

Rugby on council telly! WOO HOO!!

Aye ok ok ok - here ye go

Kind Regards


Ham Shanks World Cup

Patriotism [pa-tree-uh-tiz-uhm] – Noun : Devoted love, support, and defence of one’s country; national loyalty Or ‘Bloody Hard Work’ if yer a Scotland supporter. Having said that I’m sure the Welsh or the Irish would swap places with us now.

Yes it’s the Rugby World Cup, that’s why old Ham has been so quiet. Glued to the box watching sport. This is the ‘real’ world cup where they play with a proper shaped ball. Not the one where a strangely spherical object is kicked by mincing over paid primadonas nancying about in their hair nets. Apparently that’s every four years as well; probably takes them that long to get ready in the changing room ‘Does this shirt clash with my eyeliner?’, ‘Oooh stop darling you look simply divine’ – Nuff said

Saturday night was a bit of a nail biter in the Shanks household. My evil twin and I had settled down in front of the telly to watch the drama unfold. In a break with tradition he had actually brought the beers and the snacks rather than raiding my house and leaving it looking like a plague of alcoholic locusts had flown through. Suitably impressed with this display of uncharacteristic thoughtfulness I fished a can of beer out of the cool box he had so kindly placed very carefully by my seat.

My delight was short lived. The can I had retrieved was completely white with the words ‘Spar lager’ scribbled in pencil on the outside; it was also warm. I cracked it open; the sound it made was not dissimilar to the last croak of a dying invertebrate. The fetid chemical aroma which accompanied said opening made me check for the poor animal inside. There are over twenty muscles in your face; it’s not pleasant when they all try to contract at once. The corrosive fumes boring into my sinuses ensured my face was a picture; but not a very pretty one.

I took time out from my enforced girning to glance across at my twin brother as he dipped a hand into his cool box and fished out a bottle of blizzardly cold Stella Artois. Pulling out a gold plated bottle opener from his top pocket he cracked it open with delicate care; ‘pssssst’ it even sounded reassuringly expensive and a waft of quality Belgian lager drifted across the room. At least I assume it did, the aroma of my toad beer was still making my eyes water.

My petted lip nearly reaching the ground he must have sensed the anguish with his special ‘twinny’ powers because he turned to enquire ‘is there a problem?’ I stared in disbelief, my eyes flicking back and forth between his bottle of expensive branded lager and the generic can of p*ss I was clutching in my own. This subtle gesture seemed to go unnoticed so I accentuated the movement by swinging my entire head back and forth rather theatrically ‘is there a problem?’ I gasped incredulously ‘is there a problem!’ I continued whilst bobbing my head furiously from side to side ‘well ye look like ye’ve got a dodgy neck?’ replied my brother quizzically.

‘It’s my beer’ I replied whilst making sarcastic air quotes around the word beer ‘what’s wrong with it?’ I thrust the hand written can in his face, stammering in disbelief ‘w.w.w.what’s wrong!’, ‘what’s fecking wrong!’ a light coating of spittle settled on the can as I spluttered with rage. He pushed the container away from his face with a derisory swat of the hand ‘I wish you’d stop repeating everything I say’ Oh dear, that was the straw that broke the camels back….. WALLOP!

Fer fuuucdcksake!’, ‘whad do oo aat foor?’, ‘Eeer uuum sorry … I slipped?’, ‘Ooo punchded me inaa ucking dose ye prick!’ my rage having now dissipated I was feeling quite guilty about skelping my brother. I’d completely forgotten all the rules of anger management: Counting to 10 before you act, listening respectfully to others, looking for alternatives to conflict or perhaps using a little humour to diffuse the situation. I’d gone straight for the smack the smug git in the face approach. Although in my defence I have to say my anger was now completely gone so perhaps I was right?

Anyway watching my brother hold the ice pack I’d hastily retrieved from the freezer to his fractured hooter I was filled with remorse and decided to stick with the betta buy lager and just let it lie. The frosty silence was eventually broken by the teams coming on to the pitch ‘C’mon Scotland’, ‘dumon dotlaaand!’ we cheered in unison as the boys in blue raced on.

It was always going to be a tense affair with a place in quarter final at stake. For the first time in a long time Scotland have a great place kicker and Chris Patterson was slotting the penalties. We were 6:0 up and I was pleased the way the scoreboard was ticking over. Then the Italians heaved a big up-and-under on to our full back and one of the Bergamasco brothers came motoring in to win the ball. From the resulting ruck the Italians scored a try ‘NOOOOOO!’, ‘DOOOYAAHHUUCKER

In my despair I’d jumped from my chair and ‘bumped’ into my twinnys elbow with my knee. This would be the elbow attached to the hand that was clutching the icepack against his nose. It’s simple physics really. In physics, a lever (from French lever, "to raise", c.f. a levant) is a rigid object that is used with an appropriate fulcrum or pivot point to multiply the mechanical force that can be applied to another object. This is also termed mechanical advantage, and is one example of the principle of moments.

Now I don’t want to baffle you with science for two reasons a) it’s boring and b) I don’t know what the feck I’m talking about. However lets just say if I’d kicked him in the face then danced a light fandango on his nostrils it probably wouldn’t have been as sore as that wee ‘nudge’ I gave him as I leapt out of my seat.

When he came round I almost managed to blag my way out of it ‘Bruv bruv are you alright?’ I enquired with mock distress ‘aye eer w.w.what dappened?’, ‘aw man ye must have blacked out with the cold from that icepack’ He eyed me suspiciously as I lifted him back on to his seat. Just then Patterson slotted another penalty to put us back in front ‘FUUCKINGYEESS! I bellowed dropping him back to the floor ‘ooomppfff

Unfortunately for me the penny dropped for him as well and his left leg rose swiftly to connect with my jewels and I crumpled to the floor. He managed to jab in another three blows to my spuds as he pushed his way back up, I’m sure I heard cracking ‘we’ll call dat quits den will we?’ he enquired whilst reapplying the icepack to his swollen nose. Neglecting to reply I took the time to savour what it must feel like to be Italian as the final whistle went and Scotland scraped through to the quarter finals.

So the Argies next, then the Boks and finally the All Blacks again in the final. We could do it you know, we really could! Scotland are going to be World Champions! …… although that might be the morphine talking

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