Sunday, January 27, 2008


Ham Shanks Secret Dairy w/e 27th Jan 08– Auld Lang Syne

Fellow Scots will be well aware that last Friday was Burns night. That special day of the year where we all celebrate the life and works of our National Bard; Rabbie Burns. This usually involves getting wired into a huge plate of haggis neeps and tatties and scooping a good lot of bevy. Very cultured I think you’ll agree.

Once again a group of us attended a local Burns supper in the toon. It’s an annual event raising cash for a local charity. So we were in fact getting blootered to help the poor wee sick kiddies or whatever they were collecting for; quite noble of us really. It’s a posh do though and they have singers and poetry readings on top of the traditional ceilidh hooching and chooching (that’s dancing & singing by the way)

Obviously the readings are all Burns poems and this year we were treated to the daddy of the all; Tam ‘O’ Shanter. Two hundred and twenty eight lines of prose. Over fifteen hundred smegging words; it’s not for the faint hearted or weak bladdered. If yer going to be listening tae Tam and his ghostly shenanigans I’d recommend emptying yer bladder and filling yer glass (not with the contents of your bladder though, that would be disgusting) Just be a good boy/girl scout and ‘be prepared’ cos yer going to be sat in yer seat for a very long time.

In a novel change from the traditional it was a lady delivering the reading. I don’t have a problem with that, I believe in equality. She’d even dressed up in period red and black costume to add to the authenticity; at least I think she had. Either that or her wardrobe was in need of some serious updating.

Things started off badly when we realised that the speaker wasn’t actually using a microphone. We were in a huge room with nearly two hundred people spread over a large area. A big ask to carry a voice over that distance, ‘Rab’ was doing her very best though. She was also giving it big licks with the theatrics, ‘When Chapman billies leave the street-’ arms flailing wildly about her. Shame we could only hear every third verse when she actually turned to face our table.

It didn’t help that the temperature in the venue had gone off the scale and we were all now sweltering in 100 degrees of kilt melting heat. I was fanning myself with a dessert menu as loose skin started slipping down my face; I was going to look like Droopy by the end if this performance. A couple of hours into it and there was still no sign of Mrs Burns wrapping up the Shanter number. Leaning over the table I whispered to another guest who happened to be pregnant ‘When are you due again?’, ‘June’ she replied wearily ‘better get some towels and hot water ready then’…

Time seemed to have stopped for us; I was convinced we had fallen into some form of temporal anomaly. I nudged my friend Brian and enquired ‘Is that not the third time she’s done that verse?’ when I received no reply I turned to look and he was slumped forward into his ‘fruits of the Forrest’ dessert. The custard bubbling gently as he snored peacefully into the bowl. I was going to pull him out but I felt he was better off where he was.

Most patrons were in a similar state of torpor, glassy expressions fixed on their anguished faces. Quite a number at the tables nearest the dance floor had utilised toothpicks as impromptu eyelid ‘stands’ to maintain at least an external impression of interest. All the while Mrs Rab was whirling about the dance floor, a scarlet clad dervish animating words few of us could actually hear. It occurred to me that perhaps Burns wrote this poem as a joke.

I was just sticking a fork in my leg by way of light relief when I heard a noise from under the table ‘psssst’ glancing down I saw a dirt covered face looking up at me ‘it’s me; Euan, we’ve dug an escape tunnel’, ‘but-‘, ‘there’s no time for questions we’ve got to go’, ‘but what about the otherswoooaahh!’ strong hands pulled me below the floor and before I knew it I was standing in a dark musty tunnel. Euan beamed at me whilst waving a fragment of metal in his hand ‘not bad for a dessert spoon eh

‘They are bound to notice were gone’, ‘got it covered dude’ he replied, thrusting a stuffed manikin back up through the hole. As my eyes grew accustomed to the light I could see the remainder of our party all smiling and mugging happily in the gloom ‘we had to leave you till last as you were nearest the dance floor’ he explained as I was ushered down the tunnel ‘it’ll be another twenty minutes before she’s finished so we’ve got time bef-’ Muted applause started to filter down from above ‘GO GO!!

We raced along the tunnel stumbling out into the fresh air of the Kings Park ‘any reason you tunnelled so far?’ I whispered ‘this is 2 miles from the Hotel’, ‘do ye want to go back!’ he hissed through gritted teeth ‘fair point’ I mumbled looking sheepishly at my feet. Within twenty seconds we were all hidden inside a large lalandia, Brian peering out from the topmost branches to establish the lay of the land ‘there’s Burns police everywhere’ he whispered from his lofty perch. Word had obviously got out that we’d escaped without listening to the whole of Tam ‘O’ Shanter.

This is a heinous crime punishable by the dreaded ‘Glen’ ordeal. Any Scotsman found showing disrespect to the Bard is brought to the famous Thistle Glen just outside Bannockburn. Here the thistles grow particularly tall, particularly bushy and with razor sharp spikes. Those who have sullied the Bards memory are forced to run through this Glen, stripped from the waist down; we take our poetry very seriously in Scotland.

The thought of Thistle Glen weighed heavily on us all as we had a group tremble inside our bushy haven ‘well we can’t stay here forev-’, ‘SHHH! we froze as another kilted policeman marched past, stopping abruptly as his hunting haggis strained at the leash ‘what’s that Hamish?’, ‘Dee ye smell the traitors?’ the haggis was snarling and whining ‘Perhaps ah should let ye aff the leash lad’ he said in a loud voice ‘after all ye’ve no been fed the day!

‘ARGGHFUCKINGNOOONOTTHEHAGGIS!’ I screamed at the top of my lungs.

There was a collective sharp intake of breath. Every face in the entire hall turned to look at our table. ‘Rab’ was standing open mouthed in the middle of the dance floor, frozen in mid Shanter. I shot upright from my impromptu slumber, bleary eyed with an after eight mint glued to my right cheek. It fell to the table with a noisy splat …..

‘I’ll get my coat’

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Ham Shanks Diary – Revenge is sweet

You may have heard me rant in the past on the subject of religion ‘No Ham; Just leave it, you’ve done that chestnut a million times’ I hear you moan in despair. Hold yer horses and wind yer necks in cos this time I’m not actually having a pop, it’s even more surprising; I’m having a rethink! ‘Look Ham we know you hate rel- … What!

Don’t panic though I’ve not become a born again or a happy clappy. However I’ve begun to think there might be something in this Karma malarkey. I was idly surfing the t’interweb and stumbled on a reference to Karma, quite interesting after I got over my initial disappointment that it wasn’t an article on Culture Club and a throwback to my youth; 1983 what a year. I was 15 years old and had hair on top of heid. I’d discovered drink, girls and cigarettes. All illegal for a 15 year old, although to be fair I could only get two out of three …. Ok one of the three …. Ok none of the three; In fact I hated being a teenager so let’s just leave it OK!

Aaaanyway moving swiftly back to Karma: The basic principle is ‘do bad things and bad things will happen to you, do good things and good things will happen to you’ Seems fair enough I think you’ll agree. However further reading revealed that in fact it’s the intention behind the action rather than the outward appearance of the action itself that determines the effect ‘What the f*ck are you talking about Ham?

Ok here’s an example: If you were spending your weekends working for the Sally Army handing out soup to the poor and/or needy, helping the less fortunate than yourself. That would appear like an altruistic act, people would think you were a nice person, a caring individual. It would be reasonable to expect given the stated ‘rules’ of Karma that good things may happen to you in return.

If however you’d been gobbing in the soup and stirring it with your bell end prior to dispensing because you actually despise the stinking needy b*stards and believe they have brought it all on themselves and should just hurry up and die then you’re not creating good Karma. You’re also probably a member of the Tory party. So despite the outward appearance of good works Karma knows about the cockaleekie soup and you’ll be getting yours pal! (I may be paraphrasing here but I think you get the gist)

The idea of Karma is rooted in the Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Even though I’m not a follower (although I do like a good curry) recent events have led me to consider the possibility that Karma might actually exist. Cue wibbly wobbly special effects and flashback music……

Date: Oct 2007 Location: Way up North; possibly Never Never land

Oh aye she’s a great wee runner’, ‘Really?’, ‘Aye it’s in great nick and it’ll do seventy five to the gallon’ I eyed the car suspiciously, giving the back tyre a sharp kick before jumping back quickly. The rear wheel didn’t fall off, perhaps it really was ok. ‘And you’ll swap it for my old one?’ I enquired again ‘aye nae bother’, ‘it’s out of it’s m.o.t mind’ I prompted ‘not a problem’ I slid myself into the drivers seat ‘it’s nae very comfy though’, ‘No it’s supposed to be like that, it’s got a special seat that helps to realign your vertebrae as you drive’, ‘shouldn’t I be able to feel my legs?’, ‘don’t worry they’ll be fine when your spine has fused into the correct shape’, ‘Jings Neilly, cheers min, you’re a diamond brother’ …

Date: Jan 2008 Location: The Dark side of the moon (painkillers may be effecting me now)

The ‘Crippleomatic’ is parked outside my house. I’ve long since given up trying to wedge myself into the drivers’ seat, not that I can drive the vehicle anyway since the exhaust systems so corroded it now sounds like a jet fighter when it starts up. It would seem that sticky tape and bogies are a poor substitute for stainless steel and workmanship. Surveying the vehicle from the comfort of my mobility scooter I notice the thin layer of airfix paint which briefly covered the deep scratches down the drivers’ side door has finally given way to a patina of orange rust. It might just be the light but I’m sure the shape resembles a clenched fist with extended middle finger.

I’m waiting for my brother to arrive with a replacement vehicle. Give him his due; even though he was adamant there was nothing wrong with it he is personally delivering a replacement all the way from Aberdeen. Perhaps he’s racked with guilt for giving me such a poultice after all. Perhaps I’ve misjudged him …..

A squeal of tyres and a plume of diesel smoke herald the arrival of the boy blunder ‘Alright Davros’ he shouts cheerily whilst exiting the vehicle. Once the smoke settles, I can see my new transport for the first time ‘whadya think’ he enquires with misplaced glee ‘That’s my old car’ I reply in icy tones ‘yes’, ‘the mot failure that wouldn’t start’ I prompt through gritted teeth ‘uhuu’, ‘are you f*cking mental?’, ‘Woah woah woah, it’s mot’d, it’s taxed and it’s running bonny now’, ‘that’s what you said about the Iron Maiden across there!’, ‘ach yer just overreacting ye big jessy’, ‘now gies a hand with this stuff

Gliding over to the car I noticed it was jammed full of boxes. It would appear his mercy dash was not quite as altruistic as it first seemed ‘so still haven’t got an Ikea in Aberdeen then?’, ‘shut up and lift’ ….

Twenty minutes later and it’s all crammed into the Crippleomatic along with my brother Neily who is wedged into the driving seat like an elephant in a phone box ‘don’t gnnff know what youaaarggghhh talking about this is a really comfysweetjeeesus car’, ‘why’s yer face twitching then?’, ‘it always does that when I’m haaaargghppy’, ‘fair enough’, ‘ye should probably know that it’s not running very we-‘, ‘look this car runs sweet as a nuu-ooohaaagnnff-t’, ‘aye bu-‘ he glared at me and slammed the drivers door shut ‘this is a peach of a caaarrghaarrghaaarrghr’ ignoring any further protests he started up the car, a look of agony shot across his face the second he did ‘aye the clutch pedal does fly up when you start it‘, ‘Goodby-aaaaaarghyafuuucker!

I waved him off as the car lurched away from the kerb, leaving the majority of the exhaust system behind and a disturbingly large pool of oil ‘Needs some fuel’ I shouted after him ‘and the back tyre could do with air’ I bellowed above the noise of the thundering exhaust note. Watching him kangaroo down the street I felt what I can only assume was a Karmic tingle shivering through my body

‘Oh jings I can stand up straight’ I mumbled as the excruciating pain which had been racking my body seemed to miraculously disappear, my brother was out of sight now and feeling was definitely returning to my legs. The faint sounds of a police siren could be heard it the distance as I skipped back to my front door; clicking my heels as I entered.

In the words of that great philosopher Nelson Muntz’ ‘Haa Haaaaa’

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Cabin Fever

The windaes closed, the door shut tight,

I’m stuck inside this wintry night,

With nowt to dee, wi absent friends,

Ah’m swift gawn roond the fecking bend.

The tellys covered wi twa big sheets,

Nae point in watching TV the neet,

After all it’s prime time Saiturday night

The schedules filled wi ‘Reality’ shite.

It is real to live inside a hoose,

Where cameras watch yer every move?

Where all yer words are caught on tape,

Where so called celebs just laugh and gape.

As attention seeking trailer trash,

Perform like Chimps to chase the cash,

To seize their fleeting TV fame,

Show any flesh; play any game.

And then complain when they’re kicked oot,

‘I’m not like that! I’m really good’

Ach dry yer eyes; cover up yer tits,

Naebodys buying that crock of shit.

Ye wanted fame, ye wanted cash,

Ye were even prepared to show yer ga-

STOP! Ham STOP! Ye can’t say that,

It’s not PC! You’ll get a slap.

This is why I don’t watch anymore,

Saves policemen knocking on my door,

And asking me to keep it doon,

As I rant and rave aboot the room.

So TV is oot; let’s read instead,

I’ve a pile of books beneath the bed,

Although ‘magazines’ would describe them best,

And my wrist could do with a week’s mair rest.

So I reach across and start to twiddle,

but nothing comes out, despite my fiddle,

I give it a slap and a shoogle around,

But the radios broken; there’s nary a sound.

Time tae get the screwdriver oot,

And have a wee guddle aboot,

Inside the guts of my Bakelite tranny

What was I thinking; ye handless fanny,

Ye ken ye are always fingers and thumbs,

To open it up was incredibly dumb,

It’s now bits ‘n’ pieces scattered over the table,

An interesting project for somebody able.

It’s obvious to anyone; it’s totally Ga Ga,

No more background noise, no radio blah blah,

It’s had it’s time; it’s got no power,

It’s definitely had its finest hour.

Dear God I’m going mad! I’m now quoting songs,

Is this what can happen, when you’re stuck on your own?

Should I be able to see Pixies, dancing under the chair?

I take off my glasses; perhaps a new pair?

Cooped up all day; totally alone,

Devoid of craved company, without even a phone.

It’s driven me mental, I have to concede

Without some real contact, I’ve gone aff ma heid!

Yes I know there are phones, but I have to confess

it too was victim of my lack of prowess

That toolbox gets turfed this very weekend,

I’ve yet to find something I can actually mend!

My back is still gubbed and it’s now plain to see,

That lack of endorphins do affect me,

Without my running, my sport and my friends,

I’ve gone Doofuckinglally; I’ve gone round the bend.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Ham Shanks Secret Diary Twa Thoosand and Eight

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 6th January 2008

So how was it for you then? The festivities that is? Was the jolly fat housebreaker good to you? Did he shimmy down yer chimney and ruin a perfectly good sock by stuffing it with oddly shaped gifts he’d purloined from the previous property? You didn’t realise that did you. The thieving git just ‘shuffles’ all the gifts about, that’s why you’ve always got stuff from mysterious Aunties you’ve never heard of. Santa doesn’t actually make any presents, he doesn’t in reality bring a chuffing thing on his sleigh. He’s just a slightly obese kleptomaniac who gets his kicks breaking in through yer lum and dumping stolen goods on unsuspecting kids.

The other common myth about our red jacketed friend is that he was a creation of the Coca Cola Company. This is also incorrect. In actual fact he was created by a global sock producer, why else would you hang a stocking at the end of your bed? Surely a big wooden box would be better suited for the task. It could store so much more and wouldn’t be destroyed in the process of being filled.

But destruction is the major part of their evil plan. You see ruining a single sock necessitates the purchase of a new pair! Unless you have an extremely odd shaped foot or a single leg. So Heather Mills McCartney is probably quids in on both counts.

But for the rest of us it’s rather annoying. Did you thrown out the remaining good sock or did you use it to wipe up the sherry stains and mince pie crumbs after the thieving fat b@stard raided your drinks cabinet in the process of committing his crime? It didn’t bother me this year because I’d popped up to the roof the previous evening to set a couple of ‘reindeer’ traps. Caught three of the b@stards; we ate like Kings on Christmas day. Ye canna beat a nice piece of venison slow roasted over a chimney stack.

Mind you I had a fecking nightmare with the trimmings. On top of the traditional pigs in blankets, stuffing balls and other meaty treats that are mandatory on these occasions I’d planned to do a couple of the vegetable recipes I’d seen on TV. Specifically Nigellas (mwuuuaaahh oooh my oh my she’s flipping gorgeous) brussel sprouts with chestnuts, pancetta and parsley and her perfect (she is isn’t she) roast potatoes. Unfortunately I’d left the shopping to my elder brother Neil or the PG Tips Chimp as he will henceforth be known.

I really enjoy cooking and I’m not a bad cook; but I’m no chef. I couldn’t design a dish; however I’m a dab hand at following recipes. This is because I am very meticulous about temperatures, weights, measures and getting the correct ingredients. I have never failed when I’ve followed a recipe precisely and when it comes to the Christmas dinner I always execute it with military precision. Everything has to get cooked at the right time in the right order or it can all go horribly wrong. I was currently at the sprout preparation stage.

‘Okay that’s leaves peeled, stems trimmed and X’s cut on the bottoms’ tossing the last sprout into a pan of cold water I opened the fridge to retrieve the pancetta. After ten fruitless minutes of searching I had raked in every nook and cranny but nary a slice of salt cured spiced pork was to be found. I marched through to the living room where my elder brother was reclining with a glass of vino ‘Eeer where’s the pancetta’ I enquired with raised eyebrows.

The what?’ he replied with both eyes still fixed firmly on the TV ‘The pancetta’ I repeated, I was now standing in front of the television ‘you know you really shouldn’t stand with your hands on your hips like that’ he mumbled whilst trying to squint past me, ’it makes you look quite gay’ jabbing the off button I rounded on my brother ‘the pan-fecking-cetta where is it?’, ‘oh yeah, I couldn’t get any’ he smirked in reply ‘WHAT!’ my face was crimson with rage and I was about to explode into a full blown strop when he continued ‘keep yer pinny on, it was sold out so I got a substitute’, ‘WHERE!’, ‘cupboard above the fridge, top shelf’ I stomped back to the kitchen as he poured himself another vat of wine and switched Noels Christmas Presents back on.

I was well and truly bumping my gums as I raked through the cupboard ‘I ask him to do one simple thing and he-‘I spotted the substitute ‘you have got to be fecking joking’ clutching the object I strode back through to the front room ‘SPAM!’ I exclaimed, thrusting the can in his face ‘yes?’, ‘chopped ham and fecking pork!’ I continued in an increasingly high pitched voice ‘yes’, ‘what in Gods name were ye thinking?’, ‘it’s from a pig isn’t it?’, ‘I-‘ beep-beep-beep-beep!

Fishing out my timetable for the day I quickly cross checked the time - That had been the roast chestnut alarm, I should have finished the pancetta by now and be preparing to roast the nuts ‘Right I’ve no time for this, where’s the fecking chestnuts?’, ‘oh aye, couldnay get chestnuts either’ I stared at him incredulously ‘for fuuuucksake what did ye get then?’, ‘walnuts’, ‘WALNUTS!’, ‘aye’, ‘they aren’t sweet ye Muppet, they are bitter as hell, ye might as well have got fecking wingnuts ye dozy prick!’ Beep-beep-beep-beep!

He just shrugged and took another slug of wine ‘You fn-’ Glaring fiercely at my brother I legged it back to the kitchen. I hadn’t factored in 20 minutes searching for ingredients and 5 minutes cursing the chimp so now my carefully planned timings were in disarray ‘Okay Ham, just get the chest- I mean walnuts in and then-‘ tssspffftt ‘Shiiiiiiiiiiiit the tatties’ I pulled the overflowing pan off the hob.

‘Oohahh oyaahfckk’ the potatoes were supposed to be par-boiled for 4 minutes before roasting. I stared forlornly at the pan of mush in my hand ‘Okay so we’ll have mashed potatoes, if I can jus-‘ Beep-beep-beep-beep! ‘What’s that, what’s that’ I whimpered as I pulled out my timetable again ‘stuffing balls in the oven and-‘ suddenly everything went black, no lights, the fan of the oven whirred to a stop and all was silent but for the faint hissing of cooling food – A power cut on Christmas day – Yo ho fecking ho!

Beep-beep-beep-beep! ‘shut-up shut-up shut-up’ I ripped off my watch and started ‘tenderising’ it on the worktop ‘for pities sake stop fuuuucking beeping!’ Beep-beep-b.e..e… My brother came through with a candle as I carefully folded my schedule and placed it on the table beside the remnants of my watch. I untied my pinny and pulled it over my head. There was no longer any humour left in a comedy ‘bikini’ pinafore.

‘Ish it ready yet’ he slurred though an alcoholic haze …….

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