- Oscar Wilde
By the time my 22nd birthday arrived the following weekend, the Yes Locomotive was powering on full steam ahead. I am lucky in that my birthday falls in the last week of May, usually around the time when people have just finished their exams and are therefore looking for any old excuse to destroy their livers. This time around it would be a weekend special, but I was unaware exactly how special it would be, and how special I would be looking once it was finally over.
It was to be a three-pronged attack on the body and the mind. The Friday night was to consist of drinks at the flat followed by Moskito on Bath Street (our favourite pub). Those who were alive enough in the morning would go back to Lanark, play some vomit-inducing five-a-side then go on a pub crawl (to as many of Lanark fine drinking establishments as possible). The final push would then be back into Glasgow on the Sunday for our most beloved all-day beverage and mess-filled techno fest, Sunday Circus.
Before I start to describe what can only be described as absolute and utter carnage, I must point out that there are gaps in my knowledge, filled in only by pictorial evidence. I will supply an alternative, and much more articulated version of events (by one of my esteemed fellow bloggers – on whom I will be relying heavily in following chapters) at the bottom of this chapter. I can only tell of what I myself experienced and saw on that most fateful yet excellent of weekends back in May.
It is safe to say that it was one of those rare weekends in Glasgow you realize you will point back to when reflecting during some mid-life crisis on whether you made the most of your youth or not. After what transpired, only a fool could conclude negatively.
Friday night came at last, and the boys and girls were looking ready for action. With a steely glint in their eyes, a care-free attitude and some cash in the backburner it was all systems go. Some people came up to The Matrix for a pre-start meeting consisting of beers, squeezy, vodka and, most notably, sambuca (herein referred to as Sammy). The Chat from everyone was good as always, but the bleach left me looking like a munchkin to whom puberty had been rather unfortunate.
Drinking began in earnest. El Sammy did flow. I must explain at this point what you will all know and no doubt have experienced at some point in your lives - the curse of the birthday boy/girl. Because, of course, it is your birthday on said night, and your friends have gone to the effort of coming out to see you for such an event, it will simply not be tolerated by them if you are not the drunkest man in Scotland. This is the Scottish or, at the very least, the Glasgwegian way. If you do not vomit, you are a disgrace – illogical though it may seem. If you do not spend any amount of time on your birthday with your head down a toilet wishing you had stayed in then, clearly, it is not your birthday at all. It would be hypocritical of me to say this is not how it should be done.
The way this worked in practice on the Friday night was that for every one shot of sambuca that everyone in a circle must drink, you must drink at least two: I could hardly say no.
It was a classic case of ‘I’ve peaked too early’. I say that, but it was still an awesome night. There’s something you learn to appreciate more when you’re older about being in a pub, rather than a club, with all your mates in the same place. Everyone in high spirits, drinking good booze (not watered down vodka) and generally having a laugh. Although I did end up with my head down a toilet, I didn’t say no to anything and, anyway, this was merely the calm before the storm – a practice session before the main event.
Saturday morning was like any other Saturday morning in The Matrix: walk into the kitchen to find half-drunk bottles, half-eaten kebabs and half-dead humans. A quick tidy up and a hair of the dog and we were on our way back home to grudgingly attempt to play football. Of all those who were supposed to be staying, there was one notable absentee in the form of Cammy (pictured far left above). He was to make a miraculous reappearance later on.
On an unrelated note, it’s also a good laugh when you check your camera the next morning and find this staring at you:
They're not mine by the way.
The turnout for fitba was good – some of the Lanark lads who did not come to Moskito were there and were up for the pub crawl later on. Even Shitebag was there. After adequately halving Shitebag as many times as was feasible, my hangover began to disappear.
We met at the Crown in Lanark at 7pm (early start) and were to drink a pint and a shot in every pub which, if we were to make all the pubs, should be done every 26 minutes by my own and Jamie’s calculations - a rule that was never going to be adhered to in reality. This wasn’t something that had been attempted in Lanark in living memory – the usual Saturday night consisting of Wotherspoon’s and/or Maisie’s then the mosh pit that is the Woody. The Crown went according to plan, we had about 20 folk with us, so it was onwards to the Wee Man’s, where an idea of an (even quicker) way of drinking Guinness was to be born, still used in the finest drinking establishments to this day.
The rules are as follows: you have 4 drinks to drink a pint of Guinness. If you have two swigs and you think you can finish the pint in the next swig, you must lift the pint up with your elbows and finish it that way. Each pint is a par 4, therefore finishing in 3 is a birdie and in 2 is an eagle. Makes for an interesting spectacle and, on this night, some blootert boys.
We made our way round all the classics: Maisie’s, the Horse and Jockey, Wotherspoon’s, the Cave and the Market Bar (where a group rendition of Phats n Small's Turn Around on kareoke was a particular highlight). It was at Wotherspoon’s where Cam caught up with us. He hadn’t slept yet and was looking like death. Introducing him to the Guinness game was the best thing we, as his friends, could do for him. Just notice the difference in him from the first to the fourth picture below. Also notice how his clothes have not changed since the previous night, thus rebuffing the authenticity of his story. Remarkable.
God only knows how many pints and shots were consumed that night, but when we finally got to the Woody, speech, balance and sight were becoming a major problem.
Myself and Dearie awoke in the morning after a few hours sleep still drunk. If this day was going to reach its full potential there were one thing I was going to have to grudgingly do, reserved only for occasions where full-blooded excess is the only option:
Yup, buckie. Wreck the hoose juice. Commotion lotion. Coatbridge table wine. Stingy pish. Whatever you want to call it, I was on it. It was the only way and, besides, the Yes Manifesto had to be adhered to at all costs. We got onto the train in earnest and headed into Glasgow for circus like the clowns we were. Making sure on the phone that everyone else was game - the sun was shining, I was drunk on a train to meet my mates and listen to techno and I was drinking Buckfast: nothing could ruin this mood.
That day will live long in my memory as one of the best I have ever had in Glasgow. My memories after the train journey are blurry at best, but at least I know that. What followed was 9 hours of Sunday Circus, 4 hours of an afterparty, then another 4 of an after afterparty, waking up on a petrol forecourt in the South Side of Glasgow, coming home, going out to the park, then to the pub. I got to my bed at midnight on Monday night. That’s the extreme short version. In order to make up for my lack of memory, I am going to entrust your understanding of events to both the pictures that were taken, and my esteemed colleague’s blog, which I highly recommend you read here.
I reiterate that this was one of, if not the, best day I have ever had in Glasgow. The will to keep going, to defeat moderation, had got me there, and by God I was grateful for it. I have never experienced a more affectionate atmosphere – everyone was in this together, each person cared as much for you as you did the next. In the words of Lady RaRa, “we were like one big, disgustingly wasted and worryingly over-affectionate family”. Couldn't have put it better myself.
Excess may be a foregone conclusion when you are bound by Yes, but nonetheless the weekend had taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes, very very rarely, you experience a moment, a day, a weekend, where you realize just how much you value your friends, how much they care about you, and how great your life can really be if you just let it.
And then you forget about it and birdie a pint of Guinness.
NEXT EPISODE: The Fort William Adventure