OK, where was I? Oh yes, that night in the Scottish pub when I rediscovered that some of the locals still maintain that ‘mutual rivalry’ and ‘friendly respect’ between our two great nations. I also learned that, in times of duress you get loyal support from the most unexpected quarters!
The next morning dawned and we were all up early for a tour around the Trossachs and a visit to a stately home. What is a Trosach one guest asked over his full Scottish breakfast? Is it a rodent like the haggis another asked? Is a stately home a home that is in a state asked a third? All will be revealed I said cryptically as I was still feeling the effect of the previous night’s whiskies and could not face a long discussion on Scottish wildlife and ancestral homes.
I was just leaving the room when Mr High (the nickname of one of my Nigerians) stopped me and asked for a bigger room. ‘Why’ I asked? ‘For my wives who arrive today’ he smirked. ‘WIVES’, I gasped. ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘Mine are coming too’ chipped in Mt Mighty (the other one). ‘How many’ I sighed? ‘Three’ said the first. ‘Four’, replied the other ‘and the baby’. Life should not be so cruel, I thought.
This time we really did have to pile into a single coach but thankfully a truce between the nationalities had broken out since their alliance of the previous night when protecting my racial rights. They even behaved (well slept actually) the whole morning as we drove around the soggy Trossach hills and valleys as the tour guide talked to himself. They were even most patient when I stopped the coach so I could be sick behind a bolder to get rid of the previous night’s excesses.
At lunchtime we arrived at the stately home (Prestonfield House). It was incredibly packed and we could not get into the car park as it turned out they were hosting the ‘World Haggis Hurling Contest’ that very day. This involved contestants standing on top of a whiskey barrel and throwing haggis as far as they possibly could and it was being taken very seriously. My gang decided that they were all going to have a go so they could become champions of their own countries in something.
There is an art to hurling a haggis. It involves being able to turn one’s body around to maximum torque before twisting back and catapulting said bladder of offal in a forward direction. All this while balanced on top of a wobbly barrel end. Not as easy as it seems we witnessed as various muscular Scots tried and mainly failed. Finally the organisers ran out of excuses and they allowed my guests to have a go.
First up was the dapper Ghanaian who was still wearing his pin stripe suit and spats. ‘I got the idea from seeing the British boxer Chris Eubank‘ he confided ‘and thought that was what all fashionable English sportsmen wear’. Anyway, he vaulted onto the barrel and got handed his haggis which he held gingerly in his yellow driving gloves to avoid contamination. He crouched, yelled and hurled. The haggis went straight up in the air before arcing down straight onto his head causing him to fall of the barrel and twist his ankle.
My Liberian was next. He was still wearing his full Royal Stuart tartan and looked very grand indeed. ‘Mt Mike, I think I know how they do this’ he muttered,’ it is all in the spin’. Up he got and he started spinning round to get maximum speed of throw. His kilt flew higher and it was then that everyone saw his ‘crown jewels’. Apparently he had read that Scots in kilts did not wear pants so neither did he. His jewels were both enormous and in flight and everyone was mesmerised by the sight. Eventually he got dizzy and fell off with his haggis landing about two feet away.
My turn now my enormous Mr Mighty said. Now he must have weighed at least 160 kilos and there was no way he was going to get on that barrel without help however the team rallied around and tried to lift him. I ended up with my face between his vast bottom cheeks as the Gambians made a joint assault on his thighs but eventually he was up although wobbling dangerously. Someone give him a haggis quickly before the barrel implodes I shouted.
I will remember what happens next for a very long time. The looks on people’s faces, particularly the judges and serious competitors were an absolute picture. Our man just stood there, didn’t twist, didn’t hurl, he just put his hand behind him and threw. The haggis hurtled off as though it was rocket propelled, flew past everyone’s markers and won the competition. He had won that year’s world haggis hurling competition with his first attempt.
We tried to carry him shoulder high but it could not be achieved. He was given his trophy and then the organisers suggested we might like to leave now. Back in the coach we got and sang all their African national anthems all the way to the hotel. I did not even mind when we found the foyer half full of wives, girlfriends and suspect ladies. After a day like that they could do what they wanted.
I ended up really enjoying these trips and practically all I have written is true. I made great friends and was never bored and it has been a joy sharing my memories of them within this blog.