Monday, November 26, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - The Cars the Star

Ham Shanks Secret Diary – Slipidee Doo Dah

One definition of ‘addiction’ according to the t’interweb dictionary is: ‘The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something’

Now that ‘something’ could be exercise, it could be illegal Dutch cigarettes, it could even be bedroom aerobics; if you’re not married of course – that all stops as soon as the rings on yer finger. However in the case of my elder brother this addiction is motor vehicles. Any kind of motor vehicle. Cars, vans, bikes, 4x4’s, buses there’s nothing he hasn’t owned at some time or other in the 22 years since he fluked his driving test. My evil twin and I sat down and worked out that he has owned well over 120 vehicles in that time. Although when you average it out it’s actually less than 6 cars a year, hardly one every other month, barely an addiction …

You see he’s a very good mechanic (self taught) and this allows him to buy MOT failures for thruppance halfpenny and get them back on the road for a fraction of the cost a ‘real’ garage would charge. This way he can feed his habit without spending too much cash. In fact he often makes a few quid in the process, selling these on to naïve members of his family for instance. New cars don’t really interest him. They don’t have any character apparently. Neilly likes’ classic’ cars i.e. old pieces of excrement that require ‘tweaks’ with screw drivers and hammers to get them started every time you actually need the fecker to move off it’s rusted wheels.

Neillys idea of character was having to remember that certain windows on the vehicle would wind down, but not up again. I don’t know about you but I would suggest that the window moving in both directions is a basic function for a driver or passenger side window is it not? The minimum you could reasonably expect from said objects? Or perhaps I’m being a tad fussy.

Doors were always a good laugh as well. It was a gimmie that you would have to lift and twist the door as if you were trying to draw an occult symbol in the air should you want to open or close the fecker properly. Doors don’t just hang on hinges and you pull them open; that’s crazy talk! Security was always very important though, ok sometimes doors would only lock from inside the vehicle, which is a minor drawback should you wish to leave the vehicle unattended. But occasionally they would lock from the outside on their own anyway. Many are the times I’ve had to enter a vehicle from the passenger door, or the back door. In one case the boot; burrowing under the back seat to emerge grimy and out of breath in the front footwell.

Fuelling the vehicle was often a trying experience. Sweating feverishly as cars blared their horns impatiently in the station forecourt as you wrestled with the reticent fuel cap for a full ten minutes. After you’d given up and pushed the thing home Neil would inform you they had to be opened with a ‘special’ tool stored in the glove box. I say special tool when of course I mean a carefully bent screwdriver or a fish slice liberated from mums cutlery drawer. Now that I think about it most of the caps had a thin coating of ruskoline and our fish & chips always had a hint of WD40?

Noises that would normally cause great consternation to the discerning motorist were just to be ‘ignored’ according to the boy blunder ‘oh aye dinnay worry about the scraping noise that’s nothing serious’ Which did always make me shudder at what he might deem to actually be serious. He would continue listing ‘features’ of the vehicle as you rolled up your left trouser leg and contorted your fingers into the appropriate Masonic handshake position required to start up the latest offering from Shanks Autos. ‘Oh and if ye hear a grinding type noise when you ease off the gas that’s just the diff at the back’, ‘it’s a bit noisy’, ‘wear these’ he would say as he handed you a pair of battered ear defenders.

It was therefore always a joy borrowing one of my brothers’ motor vehicles. When you wearily asked what’s wrong with it he’d reply ‘nothing its fine’ sometimes he’d even have the barefaced cheek to look affronted when you asked the question. Then just as you were pulling out of the driveway he would shout a stream of dire warnings and special instructions such as ‘remember third gear doesn’t exist’ and ‘the rear tyre needs blown up every day’ would be the last thing you’d hear as you kangarooed off down the street; vainly pressing the brake pedal as you rapidly approached something solid and unyielding.

So you can imagine my apprehension when he asked me to help ‘move’ a couple of vehicles this weekend. He obviously clocked the look of terror that spread quickly across my face ‘it’s okaaay you’re getting to drive the Landrover’ he muttered in a patronising voice. My hackles settled slightly at this news; after all its proven engineering is a Land Rover. Bullet proof technology.

Although my evil twin would disagree with my assessment of Landrover technology. He had a ‘bit of an off’ in one a few years back; a Shanks Auto obviously. It had a little bit of a steering issue i.e. it didn’t really have any. There was a ‘bit of play’ in the steering I think was how Neil described it. ‘F*cking Death Trap’ was my twins rather less sanguine assessment. Admittedly he was upside down in a field at the time and that’s going to colour any ones judgement. He was therefore not considered an option as designated driver for this particular mission.

After the usual pre journey lies I cut to the chase ‘Right c’mon then what is it really like?’ cue much practiced hurt expression from elder brother ‘what do you mean?’ he replied with customary nonchalance ‘I mean what doesn’t work?’, ‘Noth-‘, ‘Or only works a little bit’ I interrupted ‘Everything is f-‘, ‘or needs six warm-up presses and a quick prayer to actually function?’ I replied quickly. He leant his elbow on the door frame and looked me straight in the eye ‘look it’s nae fast but it’s a great runner’ he kept eye contact for a few seconds, with hindsight I think this was so I wouldn’t notice his crossed fingers.

Adjusting the Saint Christopher around my neck I hastily lit an incense stick and placed it in the Mikoshi Shrine I’d glued onto the dashboard. A quick pray towards Mecca and I felt I’d covered most of the bases. Handing over a last letter to loved ones I gingerly slipped the beast into first gear and trundled out of the driveway, counting in my head ‘five, four, three, two, on-‘, ‘mind the clutch is slipping a wee bitty and the brakes arnay too hot’ came the doppler’d cry as my elder brother sprinted in the opposite direction and I lumbered helplessly down the street., the brake pedal thumping uselessly to the floor.

So a great runner but a poor stopper it would seem. ‘Fnnbasstrd’ I mumbled through gritted teeth as the first tardy pensioner bounced off the bonnet …..

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - The late one

Hello folks

The tortoise won again - The Hare just never learns .......

aye ok I'll be quiet

Hope ye enjoy



Ham Shanks Secret Diary – Death of a Salesman

As you may be aware I passed my bike test this year. I had to do something quickly as my midlife crisis had stalled slightly after the whole Prince Albert fiasco in May [Flash back to Piercing studio and brief conversation with the jangling proprietor ‘you’re going to put a hole where?’, ‘Get tae fu-‘] Still Desperate to prove myself young after bottling the butchering of my bellend I’d elected for a more traditional form of delusion; hence the motorbike.

However after successfully negotiating the actual test my single remaining sensible brain cell inside had prevented me from buying something insane like a 1000cc sports bike. This dominant neuron had convinced me to buy a 650 ‘all-rounder’ when the salesman had been writing out the order form for the brand new 1000cc Fireblade I had been drooling over.

However, neurons, like pay packets, are very short lived. Repeated baths in 12 year old malt had put paid to the wee fella and any lingering sensibilities I may have had along with it. Devoid of a conscience I was now free to look at something a little bit bigger than the wee commuter I’d originally purchased.

In fact the whole scenario had been triggered by my older brother, himself a biker, he had suggested that we go on a wee tour round the North of Scotland next year. I was dubious about such a trip on my wee bike (see Mum it wasnay me. It was Neil, it was actually his idea! A bigger boy made me do it) That never worked 25 years ago and I have little hope it will work now, but as my mum is dusting down the slipper as we speak I’ve got nothing to lose.

Anyway moving swiftly back to the present, I was forced to agree (against my will Mum) with my evil dominating elder brother that this tour was in fact a splendid idea (I had no choice mum, he was hitting me) he suggested between blows that perhaps my little commuter would struggle to keep up with his Honda Pan European and I should trade-up. He did have a point, his bike has a fairing the size of West Africa and a seat that would make a leather Chesterfield look distinctly small and uncomfortable. His 1100cc’s could cruise all day with minimal effort whereas my 650cc needs a bit more of a caning to keep up. It was becoming all too apparent that I was in need of an alternative bike.

To be honest I didn’t fancy a ‘Pan’ they are great bikes but they weigh about nine tons and they cost a bleeding fortune. They hold their value for ever; even a ten year old bike will set you back the guts of three grand. But besides not actually having three grand I wasn’t ready for the pipe and slippers quite yet. After all I was still in the midst of my mid-life crisis. I’m young and virile dontchyaknow! I couldn’t possibly be seen on a Pan! They are for bank managers and crumblies in their forties dude! Like no waaaaaay!

A trip to the bike shop was required to test ride a few machines; what a chore …..

First stop was the BMW garage. Their machines are popular, reliable, and excellent quality. More importantly they are ridden by movie stars! (Messieurs McGregor and Boorman) This all fitted in nicely with the old mid-lifer.

However I think the salesman that I met may have been resting on the laurels of this Hollywood association …. [Ham enters showroom stage right]

‘Hi I’m interested in doing a bit of touring next year an-‘ the salesman held up a weary hand, waving me into silence, before strolling round me in the manner of a judge inspecting a prize dog ‘You don’t look like a potential BMW owner’ he sniffed, while holding my mouth open to examine my teeth ‘I ‘eg oor ardon?’, ‘we can tell you know’, ‘oh weally’ my jaw was released and he jabbed a finger into my ribs, checking for muscle tone, or in this case losing his finger up to the first knuckle ‘oh yes and I’m not sure you have what it takes’ he continued with barely disguised disdain, gently slipping on a latex glove as he talked.

‘So how much is the 1200Gs then?’ I asked politely. He shot up ramrod straight ‘How much?’, ‘yes’, ‘How much?’ he repeated in disbelief, his faced now screwed up with a look of the utmost revulsion. I fear he would have looked happier had he been munching on a turd sandwich. He had cocked his head to the side and was plainly lost for words; a first for any kind of vehicle salesman I would have thought. Enquiring about fiscal matters this early in the proceedings when at a BMW dealership was clearly a social faux pa ‘well just roughly’ I continued foolishly.

Roughly’ he exclaimed in a high pitched voice, his face now an angry crimson colour ‘you want to know the rough cost of a BMW!’ The last three letters had been loudly yet somehow reverently uttered. Having dug this deep I felt there was only one way to go, after all I’d need a step ladder to get out of the hole I was already in so I might as well start digging a bit more; see if I can break into an escape tunnel somewhere below. In the circumstances attack seemed the best form of defence.

‘Well they are for sale aren’t they’ I replied sarcastically. This was not a good move. The mans eyes rolled so far back in their sockets all I could see was white, I say white when of course I mean bloodshot demonic yellow ‘You don’t buy a BMW’ he roared furiously ‘You don’t sully the Bayerische Motoren Werke by purchasing anything!’ he continued with gathering zeal ‘You enter the realms of the BMW experience’ he cried, his hands raised theatrically aloft, I felt the only thing that was missing was a pulpit.

Unfortunately this was just the first commandment ‘you revel in the cosseted sensual glory of being fortunate enough to straddle such a gloooooorious machine’ he continued (2nd commandment) I backed slowly towards the door scanning for any suitable blunt instruments that might be lying around ‘you live BMW, (3rd) you breathe BMW (4th), you become one with BMW (5th), you are assimilated into the collective and resistance is futile (6th), you WILL be part of the BMWWWWWWW’ (7th of how many more I don’t know)

I think he may well have exploded after that; but I wasn’t there to find out. As soon as he’d started foaming at the mouth I’d done my Billy whiz act. I don’t think I’ve ever done the 100m in 6 seconds before? And that was whilst fastening my helmet and donning my gloves on route. Got to be a candidate for the Guinness book of records you’d have thought? Although independent verification is unlikely as I shant be returning to that particular dealership.

Yamaha perhaps? I’ve always liked their organs …..

Monday, November 19, 2007


Slow but Steady

Slow but steady wins the race, or so they say

This is the ethos I am following for this weeks diary. It'll be worth the wait though .... what's that? .... two weeks since the last one? Really? Noooooooo

How time flies when your having fun .......


Sorry about the particularly dreadful service of late, I'm burning the candle at both ends just now. I've also started in the middle and I'm blow torching the bits inbetween for good measure.

Not only have I bitten off more than I can chew, I've bitten off more than I can bite. In fact my jaw is locked open and a crew of fireman are currently inside trying to work out how to get it closed again. It's such a big task they have called for another unit and they setting up a command post under my tongue.

I think I'm going to have to cut back on my exercise regime, twice a day, five days a week is taking it's toll. It's also playing havoc with my sleeping patterzzzzzzzz ......... whassat? mmmm? s ... and I fear I am starting to hallucinate. Only this afternoon I saw a squadron of flying beetroot kidnapping the tooth fairy

Which is ridiculous - beetroot cant fly!

Anyway I can only prostrate myself at your feet and beg for your forgiveness. Although having said that I'm not 'actually' going to do that cos the ground is quite muddy and begging is just so undignified.

Let's settle for 'I'll sit nearby, somewhere dry and comfy, and tell fibs about why my diary is so late'

So are we ready?

'A bigger boy stole it and ran away'

'The dog ate it'

'Indians surrounded us and we had to corral the wagons to protect ourselves'

'Aliens abducted me and probed me'

I've always thought that was a particularly weak excuse that one. I mean these vastly intelligent creatures can build a spaceship to travel through space faster than light, they have the technology to traverse the galaxy and must have seen countless planets and species on the way. Yet they need to get a stick out to look up my backside and see what the smell is? I think not

It's shite boys!

Just like this excuse - Sorry folks as my school report cards always said 'could try harder'

And I promise I will


Thursday, November 08, 2007


Last Word

Many thanks to all who pointed out my glaring typo

'Bevity' is in fact not a word

Brevity is however a recognised word and it means (amongst other things) the quality of expressing much in few words

So in that vein ......

Ham cannay type, what a shocker,
Ye ken by now he's aff his rocker,
But gie the baldy man a break,
He wis sitting up awfy late

To write the shite ye get fer free,
Every week, or two, or three ....
So dinnay bump yer gums and moan,
Cos you're not sitting all alone

Scratching yer heid and sucking yer teeth,
Tae fill a page or two with keech,
I try my best, to make you smile,
Sometimes that can take a 'while'

But in the end the tortoise wins,
And you can chuck it in the bin!

Or the super-abridged version

'Get tae fuck I wis tired'

They like to promote 'honest dialogue' at my work, I'm 'embracing' these values and living the dream .....

Fondest regards


Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret'ish Diary

Hello shunned and patronised readers

Sorry for the lateness and bevity of this weeks effort but all will become apparent when you read on, assuming you do and this isnt auto-forwarded to a junk e-mail folder.

I mean I wouldnt blame you, honestly the service is awful and quite frankly Ham is a complete and utter ti......

Kindest Regards

yedeyahyah like we give a monkeys etc


The Gunpowder Blot

(or ‘Neds Christmas’)

Lying still beneath my bed,

With a towel wrapped around my head,

With earplugs buried in too deep,

My eyes closed tight, I dare not peep

I’ve been two hours underneath,

Trembling limbs and gritting teeth,

I really canna take nae mair,

As yet more shell bursts fill the air

For pities sake just pack it in,

It really is a fearful din,

It’s half past one on Wednesday night,

Awa tae bed ye dozy shites!

I can’t but help to wonder why,

We allow the Ned to fireworks buy,

Do they really understand the reason?

We celebrate the powder treason

To them Guy Fawkes is just an ancient git,

With floppy hat; a bearded tit,

A ragged doll atop the flaming tyres,

That constitutes today’s bonfires

Another salvo overhead,

As I cower and cringe beneath the bed,

The window pane it shakes and rattles,

Evoking thoughts of ancient battles

No wonder soldiers in the trenches,

Ran away and went demented,

The constant racket gets in yer heid,

And maks ye think yer better deid

But Jerry’s nae across the wire,

Am no really under heavy fire,

There’s no a bayonet fixed or soldiers ready,

Tae charge and shoot while I ‘hold steady’

Just fifteen Neds oot on the street,

Laughing loudly and stamping feet,

Lighting fireworks and drinking buckie,

Dodging coppers and staying lucky

But lady luck’s a fickle lass,

And sudden change can come to pass,

The Burberry boys will long lament,

The night that Ham, his patience went

From beneath the bed oor hero soars,

His eyes ablaze midst violent roars,

‘Gerroootyafuuuckers’ comes out the scream,

As Ham confronts the bawbag team

A kipper tie wrapped roond his napper,

Ham looks quite the snazzy urban rapper,

Shame aboot the stripy braces,

But worth it just tae see their faces

Bare chested bar the stripy sussies

Ham shouts ‘Come on ye fuuuucking lassies!’

Black paint daubed across his face,

His manboobs jiggle into place

Ah cannay think they felt too worried,

As Ham whirled and spun and nearly buried,

The frying pan against his nads,

Whilst fronting up against the lads

A whirling dervish, Ham roared and flew,

His arms held wide at ‘ten to two’,

Fine for driving, but nae much use,

Fer sconing Neds and letting loose

But Lady Luck was backing Shanks,

And two were felled like falling planks,

Inertia pulled our baldy friend,

Around to clatter three more men

The rest took fright and ran at once,

With fleeting blows across the bonce,

‘And don’t come back ye little shites!’

Bellows Ham into the night

The rabble crushed, Ham stumbles and falls,

He took a low one in the balls,

The adrenalin worked but now it’s gone,

He’s mumbles weakly ‘at least I won’

A half hour later he’s tucked up in bed,

Peaceful silence fills his head,

To sleep; perchance to dream that’s all,

Was worth a blooter in the baws

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