Saturday 14 October 2000


It's not often the groom-to-be is the only one who doesn't have a drop to drink on his stag night but I've always been a contrary so-and-so!

The famed Paisley crowd met up for the first time in two years on the evening of Friday 13th October (as black a portent as one could expect; coincidentally, some claim the origins of Friday 13th as a reputed day of doom tie in with events of 693 years previously when Philip "The Fair" of France moved against the Knights Templar causing them to flee the country. What their vast riches were and where they ended up has been the subject of much recent popular conjecture, with a strong belief that Rosslyn Chapel has subsequently played an important part in housing the spiritual, if not material, riches of the scattered order. But I digress...)

Suffering from the latest in a long line of head colds, I decided that a beer or two would maybe set me right. We all joined up in the Malt Shovel in Cockburn Street, with Jim and Richie carrying on from their warm-up on the train up from Peterborough (Richie brought a small rucksack for the weekend which was by now half-empty having contained his carry-out), Eggie and Niggy scaring the passers-by at the window, Hunter proving that his hair still has more body than Jabba The Hut while his body just has, well, more body, and Greenie looking like he'd misplaced his deerstalker.

The arrival of Sharon and Pete prompted Richie to ask, on at least four occasions, if she had change for her bus fare home, and wasn't this the stag?

An early night beckoned and despite frightening the taxi queue with renditions of popular Scottish country dance numbers, ex-pat Brown was forced into a taxi and packed on his way. Never one to be quelled, he displayed his culinary skills back at my flat making a stir-fry out of dear knows what he could find. Fresh food wasn't on the list but tinned mussels and oyster sauce were. The end result was Hunter having an out-of-body experience the next day.

Saturday did not start well. My quest for a cure under the guidance of McEwans 70 bob had been sadly awry and as I retched and stretched the morning away I had to accept that the trip to Kelso would be minus the stag himself. Pete, Eggie and Niggy fried anything that didn't move and went on their way over to my flat where, judging by the phone calls I'd been getting, a more debauched version of the same scene was being enacted. A sample of calls: Richie - "There's nae butter! Ah'm out the house now turning right. Where dae ah get butter?" Jim - "Where's yer forks?" Hunter - "Bloooaarrrgghhh!" Jim also expressed dismay at Richie's first movement of the day, taken whilst the former was enjoying a cleansing shower.

The bus to Kelso was awaiting the staggees at the end of my road, as was Richie wearing my poncho, swearing loudly and draining his nth can of lager for the day. Just as I was settling down to watch Football Focus, trying to get my body back together, the doorbell rang and the lynch mob arrived, Richie at its head. No escape, I was going to Kelso. Five minutes later I too was on the bus to travel the undulating 40 miles to the races.

It got progressively quieter as the journey wore on and the road got more uppity-downity but we got there intact. Bladder Brown leapt from the bus in relief and we wandered about aimlessly in the glorious sunshine amidst the curious mix of Newcastle betting boys with their short-sleeved shirts and tabs and the tweed, soft-hat and sideburns brigade (and that's just the women!) of Borders farmers and landowners. A few close finishes and six favourites winning meant a bad day's business for the bookies and a good atmosphere amongst the punters, but the fifteen of us didn't return to the pay-out window too often. High Roller Dave Ainslie had a big win but still finished down at the end of the day, whilst Gordon Digger Barnes was the only one who reportedly turned a profit. Had he turned a prophet and let us in on his selections then we might have fared better!

Having extricated Richie from the bar and a variety of white stretch limos (his quest for Slavic ladies of the night knows no bounds) we dozed our way back to Edinburgh in decent time, despite guess-who's repeated requests for a detour to drink in the Borders.

Letting the SLAC lads find their own nosh in town, the rest of us sampled the delights of the Lee On Chinese restaurant, with Richie nearing his nadir over his chicken chow mein and spare ribs. There are only so many restaurants where you can get away with choice expletives that can be heard in every corner. Fortunately the Lee On is one.

Walking along to the Cowgate we somehow got past the temptations of Tollcross and the West Port. The Three Sisters was too noisy so we reformed as a larger party once more in Bannermans then moved round to The Tron where a table for 15 was secured and the serious business of imbibing was undertaken. Aided by a man in a gorilla suit, Greenie doing Baldy Man impersonations using a banana skin, a vamp who could have eaten us all for breakfast and a succession of young ladies who took to the dance floor undaunted by the proximity of schweaty males almost twice their age strutting their stuff to Baggy Trousers, the evening fairly took off.

Having moved on to vodka and orange Reefs, Richie had got his fourth wind and exhorted us all to greater efforts as the evening moved to a close. A few stragglers made it across to Whistlebinkies (and if that doorman wasn't just pocketing the £2 then I'm an 18 year-old blonde with pigtails) but as Greenie fell asleep with a monkey-nut shell balanced on his head we knew it was time to go.

Everyone made it home eventually and this time there were no stir-frys. And I had a great time despite (or maybe because of) drinking only water all day and not eating.

Sunday dawned equally bright and balmy though Richie could only share his time between lying on the living room floor moaning and kneeling on the bathroom floor groaning. A tribute to his mentality though was him asking if he could be taken to the pub because "he couldn't feel much worse than this
and maybe a drink would set him right". When I did phone him he was in Deacon Brodie's, partaking of a tomato juice.

With all the dehydrated bodies departing the scene of the crime and my neighbours claiming they never heard a peep, life has returned to normal.

And yes, I am feeling better, thanks for asking.

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