Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Ham Lives!

A crack of thunder echos across the night as sheet lightning illuminates a dank filthy room. A man is hunched over a laptop, his finger trembling over the 'enter' key. It's been so long since he started, he cant even remember how long. Where has he been? What was he doing?

Does anyone care?

Nae luck cos he clicked enter and as a result you are now the 'happy' recipient of the latest Ham Shanks diary. With the emphasis very much on 'Late'

So to answer your questions

A) I am not deid (sorry)
B) No I have not fallen off the edge of the world
C) The world doesnt have edges; it's spherical

Try some word association instead. I'll throw in a few to get you started .... 'Bail', 'Punching', 'Judge', 'Without', 'Weeks', 'Seven', 'Or' and 'Parole'

Anyhoo I hope ye enjoy this twice as much as I enjoyed writing it. No in fact make that four times as much, no no, hold on let's say eight times .. in fact why dont .......

Bins and Skins 29th June 2008

You will be familiar with the phrase ‘Clutching at Straws’ it is believed to refer to the last desperate act of a drowning man; grasping a handful of straw even though he knows it can do no good. It can’t possibly save his life; he’s toast and he knows it. And for a bit of a history lesson (cos I know you like that sort of thing) the origin has been traced back to 'Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation' (1534) by Thomas More (1478-1535) yes that was rather dull wasn’t it.

Ok so it originated in 15 oatcake but it’s a phrase that’s now in modern use and has come to represent all futile efforts that are doomed to fail. So what’s the reason for bringing up this rather uninteresting fact? I was recently accused of being that drowning man (cue shocked expression and dramatic music ‘da da da da daaaaaaaa’)

You can have your face ‘stand easy’ now. To explain: I have only just returned to exercise after 4 months out with injury. A nasty bout of sciatic back pain that left me feeling jaded, bitter and angry with the world in general. So basically the same as normal; but with a sair back.

When I did eventually return to exercising I was desperate to make up for lost time and also avoid recurrence of this debilitating injury. Extensive research indicated that magic beans and stardust are not just in limited supply; but they don’t exist at all. Disappointed at a lack of available magical help I plumped for some body-moulded compression performance equipment instead ….. or ‘painty on tights’ if you prefer. Figure hugging does not do them justice. See any straws yet?

The picture on the outside of the box holding these miracle garments depicts some finely honed athlete posing in a relaxed fashion. Relaxed despite being photographed in skin tight under garments; a wife beater sleeveless top and full length tights to be exact. When you’re endowed with rippling muscles and a winning smile it’s probably easy to look relaxed and comfortable poncing about in yer scants.

However for me it wasn’t quite as relaxing. After taking three quarters of an hour to wedge myself into the exact same outfit I looked in the mirror and my heart sank; my stomach would have followed suit but it was hamstrung in bright lycra.

‘What the fu-?’ Surely this must be a trick mirror; I must have stumbled into a circus tent to change. Nobody can have love handles that big! And let’s not even talk about cellulite. I thought that was an urban myth generated by womans magazines to sell overpriced beauty products to bored middle aged women. I didn’t just have the orange peel effect; I had the net bag to match. It would appear that my body-moulded garment had moulded me into Pavarotti.

Luckily my real skin is also rather thick. I really don’t give a monkeys what people think about me. After all this wasn’t a fashion item; this was sports equipment. This garment had a purpose….. for £100 I had to believe that. So I chose not to believe the mirror (or my eyes) Instead I looked at the picture on the box as if it were a small compact ‘looking goooood Ham’ I purred whilst angling the box for a better view.

Fast forward two days and its Perth Volleyball tournament. This was to be the debut of my new moulded body. I’d missed the traditional Friday night ‘warm up’ which precedes the tournament. An evening of debauchery that punishes the liver like it’s a ginger step-child and destroys brain cells for casual enjoyment. If you can snatch three hours of sleep over the whole weekend you’ve done pretty well. The entire messy affair is based at an impromptu campsite on Perth’s North Inch, which is basically a field; classy stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

The new-fangled moulded me was safely concealed under trackies as I waded through the empty beer cans into the team campsite. ‘Alright Bruv, how’s it going?’ I enquired as my elder brother poked his bleary eyed face out of the tent ‘am I dead?’, ‘fraid not’ I replied sympathetically ‘b*gger, this must be Perth then’ nodding kindly I walked on towards the centre of the bombsite, pausing briefly to pull a prone figure out of a bin ‘Alright Kenny, how’s it going?’, ‘fnn.fnn.bastruuurrrrghhhhhhh

He didn’t seem in a chatty mood so I left him to regurgitate in peace.

The tannoy was attempting to cajole the happy campers out of their sleeping bags and onto the lush grass courts. Play was to start in five minutes according to the pleading staccato voice. Our team was being called to court 24. A quick glance round showed little signs of life and/or movement. We were looking at an opening forfeit; a bad start to our title hopes and I was keen to enjoy all the biomechanical benefits of my restrictive undergarments.

Strong leadership was needed to get things moving. Placing my foot on an empty keg I took a deep breath ….. after several minutes of dramatic and powerful oratory a chorus of heavy snoring suggested my ‘I have a dream’ speech was falling on deaf ears. I shook my head in dismay. Strong words were all very well but a change of strategy was obviously required. A glint in the grass caught my eye and I smiled a wicked smile….

Oyaah’, ‘OWW’, ‘ayaah’, ‘fnnuurggh’ , ‘Go on gedoutofit ye lazy feeckers! Gawon get on that court!’ The sharp tent peg is mightier than the pen or the sword I find and within thirty seconds we were all on court. Time to reveal the new me, the man in tights, the man for the moment ….

Laughter would have been better than the stunned silence. Kenny took one look and lost his breakfast, lunch and dinner (again) A woman spectator screamed and ushered her small child quickly away. The referees jaw was nestling on the grass and the rest of my team mates looked at me in disgust ‘eeer they’re compression tights’ I pleaded ‘bio-compr.r.r.e.s..s..ion’ I trailed off lamely as they just shook their heads ‘I’ll get me coat’ I mumbled as the slow handclap started

Bending over to pick up my tracksuit there was a large ripping noise. The pressure had finally been too much and my left cheek popped out for wee bit sunshine. The remaining spectator fainted and Kenny lost his dessert in the bin. This was not turning out to be a red letter day. On the plus side my back was absolutely fine even after the 10k cross country steeplechase run I had evading the pursuing mob and that’s got to be down to the tights you’d think? Wouldn’t you? ….. straw anyone?

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