Day 18. 51 pages, 23,853 words. Yes, done.
The following is a tale of a hilarious and foolish thing I did when I was a lad. I sent it to the local radio station for their Scottish DJ to read out on air, but apparently he had better things to talk about (he didn’t). Anyway, here’s the story in full.
In the mid ’90s I was a teenager living in Perth, Western Australia, and (as I’ve mentioned once or twice) I supplemented my night-shift income by playing the bagpipes in a professional pipe band.
On one occasion, my bandmates and I were unwinding after a competition, using a time-honoured method known as “dozens and dozens of pints.” We were at the bar of a local hotel near where we’d been playing, and we were resplendent in our uniforms, of which obviously the kilt was a distinctive – nay, definitive – part.
Some ladies approached me and asked whether I was Scottish. Being several pints, a number of shots and a bourbon or two in the hole at this stage, I replied “AYE” and proceeded to talk to them in a shockingly bad Scottish accent. I believe I told them I was from Glasgow, and for my accent cue used equal parts Billy Connolly and Trainspotting. My trick for getting into Scottish-accent form is to think the phrase “I am no longer constipated.” Just FYI.
Anyway, the ladies were impressed and we were getting on fine. Then one of my bandmates – let’s call him Shambles – approached and they asked him where he was from.
“Perth!” he said, in his normal Australian accent, and laughed.
“No no,” I told him, Scottishly, “no ye’re not.”
Shambles, bless him, was not slow on the uptake. “Perth in Scotland, ye daft bastard!” he shot back.
I’m not sure to this day whether the ladies bought this, or how they thought we were in a band together but didn’t know where each of us lived when we weren’t touring Australia for whatever reason.
Anyway, the evening was highly enjoyable, and Shambles and I found ourselves returning to the ladies’ house after closing time. Nothing untoward happened, I should assure you, although we did continue to be a pair of touring Scottish bagpipers from Perth and Glasgow respectively.
You would think that after a moderate and entertaining success, I would chalk this one up as a learner and move on with my life, hoping to never run into the ladies again in the booze-pits of my home city. However, as Shambles had pointed out, I was a daft bastard.
The next day I returned to the ladies’ house, as invited by them the night before, to continue drinking and making merry. Shambles, in the sober light of the day after, decided he had saner things to do than to go on pretending to be Scottish.
I, however, did not.
Upon arriving at their house, I was greeted by cries of “oh look, he’s got pants!” – because even in my gaping absence of forward planning I thought it would be strange for a touring bagpiper from Glasgow to come all the way to Australia with only his kilt. Still, the suspicious presence of trousers in my life passed without further remark, and we resumed our weekend of substance abuse.
It’s a strange fact – and actual Scots may not appreciate this – that it’s way easier to be Scottish when you’re wearing a kilt. However, getting drunk again cancelled out the stifling effect my pants were having on my inner Scotsman, and I wasn’t even concerned when some more of the ladies’ friends showed up.
One of these friends was an employee at the hotel we’d been drinking at the night before, and at which I had claimed to be staying with the rest of my band. At this point I had quite an extensive backstory. This friend claimed not to have seen a big party of Scottish guests at the hotel, and while this might have made a less inebriated liar break out in a panicky sweat, I believe I waved it off with a lazy “ach, nae bother.”
Somehow, owing possibly to the effforts of the patron saint of drunkards, I got out of there without being stabbed in the face and left in a ditch.
All in all it was a fun weekend, and not too much longer after that I picked up my pipes and moved to Finland, where the likelihood of my being recognised in a bar and chased down the road by an Australian woman screaming curses at me is slim to nil. Still, to this day I mildly regret the extraordinarily convoluted tissue of lies I crafted over the course of that weekend, and feel – quite rightly – like a daft bastard.
Also, I went to Glasgow in 2008 and it was nothing like I described it to the Australians. They didn’t even have a giant statue of William Wallace riding Nessie.