OK, it's about time that you heard the story of my first trip to Dumfries (It's a lovely place, you should go there, it's got a river running through it and everything).
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in the autumn of 1990, leaves were turning golden, squirrels were thinking about hibernating, and SMick and I were playing pool in the pub (The Station Inn on Midland Road in Derby, for those who are interested. Dave, the Landlord could easily be mistaken for a cantankerous Terry Wogan, and he serves half-decent Bass from the jug), sinking a few cheeky Newcastle Brown Ales.
'Ah feel like going home,' Said SMick, gazing whistfully out of the window.
'Oh, OK, we'll finish these and get off shall we... Bit early though innit?'
So, about half an hour later, when I realised we were going in completely the wrong direction, I said,
'Dude, I thought we were going home?'
SMick turned, looked at me and said, 'I am...'
The trip North up the M6 / M74 was fairly without incident, we passed Gretna Green, Hadrian's Wall, lots of heather clad mountainsides and finally arrived at, SMick's mate, Doogie's house in Dumfries just as the sun was going down.
To be honest, I can't remember if I'd met Doogie before or not at this stage, but seeing as our first real conversation was about how many times we'd each seen Michaela Strachan's knickers, he was soon firmly filed under 'kindred spirits'. We had a couple of beers and then decided that it was time I experienced a real Sco'ish pub.
So we went to a place called The Joker on the Whitesands, this is where I nearly got killed the first time that day. As we got to the door, SMick stopped and put his hand on my chest.
'One thing, 'fore we go in.' He said, with a serious look on his face, 'You know how you're fond of using the word Chap?'
'Aye?' I said, wondering where this was going,
'Don't use it here, not a good word.'
'Ver' bad in fact,' Chipped in Doogie, 'S'a bit like calling someone a cu...'
'Aye, that's the one rule, don't call anyone Chap, goddit?', SMick released his hand and brushed some imaginary dust off my T-Shirt, I looked down, he flicked me in the face, 'Ah, seeing as yer so gullible, you can buy the first round!'
We went into the pub, which was as busy as any town-centre pub on a Saturday night, the bar was two deep, SMick and Doogie got us a table by sitting down next to some Students and leering at them until they vacated their seats and I stood at the bar for ten minutes busily not being served. I heard a shout from behind me.
Which I ignored, because they were obviously trying to attract someone called Rab's attention.
'Rab! turn roond yah big bast!' I looked around and Doogie was making the come over here you big bast handsignal.
'What?' I shouted over the jukebox, 'Difficult to get served innit?'
'Aye, y'ell haveta shoot, in Sco'ish or they won' serve yah,'
'Aye, if they find oot yer Unglish, yer deed! Yah shoot "Three paints o' eighty" and then wait for the beyor.'
So I did shoot, I mean shout, and we did get the beer, Doogie did the same, then SMick, then it was my round again. I looked at the clock and noticed it was 10:45,
'I'll get us a couple each as it's getting late, OK?' I suggested,
SMick and Doogie looked at each other, shrugged, and said 'Aye!' with broad grins.
Six pints later, when it was my round again, I noticed that it was only about an hour later and both SMick and Doogie had four pints each lined up in front of them.
'When's last orders?' I asked, congratulating myself for being able to string those few words together.
'Mostly when people stop drinking,' Replied SMick, 'You might want to slow down a bit.'
I excused myself and went to open the floodgates, as my bladder pressure was rapidly approaching a valve busting level. After I had drilled a hole in the urinal by pure pressure of urine alone, I re-entered the bar and saw a chap... Sorry, bloke... putting a pound-note into a 'Fruitey' (A fruit machine or one-armed bandit) - Now, this totally threw me for two reasons. One being that I'd not seen a pound note for ages, since England started using pound coins some years before, and the other that I had never seen anyone use a note in a gaming machine. I stood and stared, open mouthed like a gasping haddock, for a few moments before overhearing the guy playing on the machine talking to his girlfriend about a TV program they'd been watching about Polar Bears.
Now, I'm a great believer in other people's education, especially when drunk, so I decided that I would impart some knowledge to them, that I had recently read (Which I later found out was completely untrue).
'Did you know?' I expounded, sounding very, very, English indeed, 'That your actual Polar Bear, isn't a bear at all, but a kind of giant weasel?'
'Whut?' replied the large, and getting larger all the time, Scotsman.
'Polar Bear, looks like a bear, with the claws and the Arrgghh!, right? Actually a big weasel!' (I think I might have actually made whiskery movements with my finger against my face).
'Y'tekkin the pish?' The guy continued to grow, which I thought was physically impossible.
'No, really, I thought you might find it interesting!'
'D'ya think ahm Styoopit?' He was about eight feet tall now, and showing no signs of stopping growing.
'Well, I don't know if... URK!' Luckily, my exclamation wasn't from him tearing off my arms like a bad tempered Wookie, it was from SMick and Doogie grabbing my the shoulders and propelling me towards the door.
'Sorry! He's dronk!' Doogie yelled over his shoulder as they used my face to open the door.
'Are you actively trying to get yourself killed?' Asked Smick
'I didn't call him Chap, you said that that was the one rule!'
'OK, two rules, Don't call anyone Chap, don't try to educate anybody, right?'
'Fair enough... What're doing now.'
'We're going to go somewhere else and carry on drinking. You're going to sit quietly and give us money to buy drinks when it's your round.'
So, we went to a nightclub, whose name I can't remember, but I do remember it was up some stairs. And the bouncers were all huge, apart from one.
'NO TRAINERS!' Shouted one of the large bouncers from the top of the stairs.
'Whut?' Shouted Doogie,
'Him, wearing trainers, NO TRAINERS!'
I looked down and discovered that I was the 'Him'
'Don' s'ppose yah brought any boots with yah?' Asked Doogie,
'I didn't know we were coming, I didn't bring anything at all.'
We walked back to Doogie's house and he gave me a pair of his work-boots. Now, I am six feet tall, with size 10 feet, Doogie is, well, I mean, he's over five feet, definately, with size 8 feet, on a good day. So, it was safe to say that my toes were in the main bit of the boots, but the rest of my feet were sort of where the laces were. I was walking like a drunken velociraptor.
Then I ripped my trousers, I honestly can't remember how, but it was a decent rip, from right knee, to groin and back down to left knee. Luckily, I hadn't yet adopted the 'All commando, all the time' fashion statement that I currently live by. I wish I could remember how I'd done it, it would probably have made a good story.
We walked back to the club, and I waddled up the stairs, which was being guarded by the smaller of the bouncers, who smelled like a trainee to me.
'Yer nay comin' in here dressed like that!' He shouted
'Sorry?' I replied, genuinely confused.
'Yer jeans, yah cannae com in here like that!'
'Look, pal, (I have since learned that 'pal' is something you shouldn't say either, it's not as bad as 'chap', but still a no-no) your mate said no trainers, so I went home and changed into these boots, now you're saying that I can't come in because I've got ripped jeans?'
'Aye, it's indecent!'
'I've got pants on!' I showed him my Spiderman y-fronts, 'Look, pants!'
'Naw, go haem, get some new jeans, then come back.'
'Look Chap!', SMick and Doogie both took a step back at this point, 'I've just driven two hundred miles because he said (I waved in SMick and Doogie's general direction) this was a good place to go for a beer. So I'm going in!)
'Naw, yah not!' The bouncer proceeded to roll up his sleeves and started down the stairs.
At this moment, another, more experienced bouncer came out of the doors at the top of the stairs and shouted, 'Whit's all tha bloody noise, Ah ken hear you lot over tha music!'
The situation was explained to him, he turned to SMick and said, 'Is he gonna be any trouble?'
'Nope, we've only brought him 'cos he buys the beer.'
'Aye, right, yah can come in, he sits in a quiet corner, doesnae cause any trouble, OK?'
And so we did, and that would have been the end of this particular tale, had we not bumped into some other old friends of SMick's, from the local Motorcycle Club (possibly The Fugitives, but I'm not 100% sure) and things got messy... Very... Very... Messy...
Maybe an hour later, I noticed a very pretty young lady standing at the bar, occasionally looking at me, I watched her for a while and thought it was odd that she was on her own. I stood up and SMick looked at me quizzically. This was the second time that I nearly got killed.
'I'm going to talk to the girlie at the bar.'
'Aye, one sec...' He turned to one of the guys from the MCC and said a few words, there was laughter and he said, 'OK, fine, off you go!'
I went over, bought her a drink and got talking, she commented that she liked my trousers and my pants and my accent, I told her that I thought that was strange as most of the locals seemed to hate the English. At this moment, the young bouncer came into the room, looked at me, went very, very, red and started towards us. I looked at him and raised a single eyebrow, he paled, turned around and walked back out.
'Alright!' I thought to myself, 'Result!' And carried on chatting up the pretty lady.
A few drinks later, the same thing happened again, only he got a little closer before I raised my eyebrow and she noticed him too.
'Ah... Shite...' She said,
'Everything OK?' I asked,
'Aye, that's my boyfriend.'
'Oh... Cock!' I held up my hands and backed away, found my seat and sat down, I probably mouthed the words 'Sorry' a few times too.
SMick, Doogie, and all the other lads were crying with laughter, literally crying.
'It's not funny!' I said, 'I could have gotten the crap beaten out of me then, you should have told me!'
'That's exactly why it was funny, plus the fact that when you thought that you were being all James Bond, all these guys stood up behind you and raised their eyebrows and wagged their fingers at her boyfriend too.'
A good start to a great weekend, which ended up with me loosing my job, and nearly getting killed a couple more times. But I'll save that story for another day I think.