Antediluvians 2008 Scotland Tour - The Untold Story
Across the Pond Hockey
The long awaited, and immaculately conceived love child of Eric “Big Daddy” Germain finally arrived on August 31, 2008, after at least 9 months of labour, as the ancient Antediluvians descended from on high to the formerly sacred neighbourhood of Bruntsfield in Edinburgh, Scotland. As the bundles of hockey sticks circled the luggage conveyor at Edinburgh International, (not to be confused with the fishing rod bags) there was a sense that slapshots, slapstick, and slapped bottoms (remember to say “good game”) would dominate the next 9 days.
About 8 seconds after checking in to the well-appointed Bruntsfield Best Western, the commodious
“cavern level” hotel bar was located by the tourists. The pounds were spent, the pints consumed, the toilets flushed, the chortles chortled, and the endless rugby circle of life was renewed.
In honour of the Antediluvians' arrival, the City of Edinburgh had arranged an exclusive concert and fireworks display in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle for our club on the night of August 31. However, like a high school house party gone bad, word got out, and tens of thousands of pushy Edinburghers crowded in and spoiled what would have otherwise been an intimate evening of Hungarian folk music and pyrotechnic explosions.
The scent of cordite and claustrophobia was barely noticeable by the time the early morning (noon) training sesh got started the next day, on the commons across the road from the BBW, to the amusement of passing school girls, and the puzzlement of small dogs. Some of the players quickly identified this skate as optional, on the grounds “I could get hurt out there”. The first exposure to Edinburgh's roulette weather wheel was experienced, with overcast pleasantness giving way to soaking showers, followed shortly after by smug sunshine, all in the course of an hour.
Athletic supporter Tom O, keen to avoid the rain and exposure to physical activity, used the opportunity to reconnoiter the area, identifying a pleasing sports pub, to which the players retired thereafter for an intensive strategy session. It was there we encountered another visiting team, from Australia, quickly dubbed the “Lilac Lads”, as they tried on their less than fashionable purple tour togs in the bar. The Antediluvians quickly appreciated the simplicity and versatility of their little black golf shirts, little black hawaiian shirts, and little black jackets, which could be effortlessly worn from runway to endzone.
Pleasantly refreshed and possibly over-strategized, the tourists were more than ready for the opening ceremonies and Parade of Nations to take place in Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile that evening.
The sacred hockey stick horses were brought forth, and their pucks distributed, hockey tape reins were quickly manufactured, cowboy hats were cocked at a jaunty angle, and the Antediluvians rode forth like no other drunken, confused, and uncoordinated host had ever done before. It was on boarding the bus to the ceremonies the group first witnessed the unholy triumvirate of Darrell H., the bus microphone, and not much else.
The opening ceremonies featured many high spirited and well costumed teams from around the globe, but none could match the effect of a good hockey stick being pounded on the bleachers in response to the velveteen utterings of Lord Mayor Grubb and the Hastings Brothers (Scotland's equivalent of the Hanson Brothers). Galloping down the Royal Mile astride their stick-steeds, the Antediluvian equestrians paused only occasionally to convert their horsey sticks to hockey sticks for a spontaneous game of cobblestone shinny.
Listening to speeches and parading is thirsty work, so it was with open arms and open lips the Antediluvians and other elder-tourists reached the terminus of the parade in the park at George Square. Several large tents each containing a large bar with complimentary boo boo juice was the scene that greeted us. I love a parade. While the organizers properly coordinated the refreshment service in free-flowing waterfall fashion, they somehow saw fit to serve food in a trickle/lottery fashion. If you had any illusions the festival was non-competitive, you would have been disabused of that notion by watching the 2500 hungry paradists pounce upon every hapless server emerging from the kitchen with a tray of hors d'oeuvres, like Ukrainian pirahnas on a kubasa.
Of course, the Scots, whose most sacred object is not the holy grail, but the deep fryer, make hors d'oeuvres with the caloric equivalent of a lard sandwich, so those nimble enough to snatch a snack were quickly sated, and possessed of larger hips. Thus fortified, the real business of the evening could be pursued in earnest, being never having to say you're sorry about finishing your beer, and swapping gear with the unsuspecting Japanese. Karen G. showed the first glimmer of what turned out to be an astounding talent, of removing every piece of clothing from other tourists in exchange for any trinket that had the merest whiff of Antediluvian cachet about it.
The everpresent buses of the purple passion route were at the ready to whisk us back to the plushy confines of the subterranean BBW bar, for a few “just in case 20 free ones were not enough” pints. The players, with next day being a game day, took it easy, and had no more than 19.
Of Men and Murrayfield
Tuesday, the first day of games, came early for the many Antediluvians who may have become over-refreshed at the previous evening's soiree. Many of the lads took advantage of the curative powers of a hearty Scottish breakfast, in the BBW's below-grade grill, Bisque, made famous in the Blues Brothers' song lyric, “Rubber Bisquette”.
A quick purple passage delivered the players and tourists to the pillowy-soft playing fields in the shadow of a rather large beer tent, which in turn lay in the lee of the lofty stands of Murrayfield stadium. If Murrayfield was the rugby shrine, then the “marquee”, with room for 3000 rugby players to quench their post game thirst, was surely the holy grail.
Captain on the day, Disco "Bob" K. set the mood with a few of his choice moves in the locker room. On stepping onto the pitch, the game faces of the Antediluvians looked upon their first opponents, the Edinburgh Elephants. They were indeed large, gray, and wrinkled. There was a good deal of stomping, charging and trumpeting, and the game proved high-spirited and competitive, with the Antediluvians crossing the try line more often, for those who may be keeping score at home. It was apparent many of the Antediluvians remembered their pre-flood rugby skills, as players such as Hywel W. and Doug Z. put on many knees-bent-running-about displays. Few injuries were incurred, with only Dave M. turning an ankle while tripping over someone's
combover, and Eric G. receiving a mysterious buttock boo boo. Man of the match was Hywel the Unpronounceable. So invigorating was the Antediluvians first Scottish session, several of the players volunteered for further matches with other clubs that day, enhancing Canada's trade statistics as a net exporter of aging rugby players.
A post game photo of the team was snapped under the posts of Murrayfield, with the tourists taking care to ignore the groundskeeper's admonitions to STAY OFF THE PITCH, and as a result badly upsetting the highly trained blades of grass in their vegetal preparation for that week's match.
The players and their athletic supporters thereafter retired to the marquee for several hours of apres-match libations, with consumption being its own reward. Repeated practice let one appreciate the finer points of the call of nature, and the Scottish obviously take their sanitation seriously, with the marquee facilities featuring not only sweet smelling, but flushing porta-potties.
Off To The Races
Wednesday was a day of rest for rugby playing, but the other principal skill set of rugby players would prove to be front and centre. The Golden Oldies tourists were bussed en masse to the Musselburgh Racecourse, a safe distance from civilization, for testing the effect of an afternoon's free booze on 3000 experienced rugby tourists.
In addition to their engineering prowess with portable crappers, the Scottish are also no slouches when addressing the issue of getting drunk at the racetrack. Musselburgh Racecourse featured a bar every 20 feet in its commodious facilities, leaving little room for error in the pursuit of the next flagon.
The official entertainment for the afternoon was provided by two large men in skirts, one small woman in a skirt, and several mid-size pigs, whose entertainment value might have been improved by dressing them in skirts. The featured entertainment was to have been camel races. Either the Scots know a good deal less about identifying camels than they do about flushing poo and building bars, or the organizers felt that the tourists would be sufficiently sauced so as not to notice the camels were short, pink, and made a distinct oinking sound.
Now, rugby players have over the ages devised many drinking games that test the mental skill of the participants, with those of lesser cranial dexterity doing the most drinking. It was not such a game that caught the fancy of the Antediluvian garglers on this day. The popping of a pound into another's pint, with the expectation said poppee would then pound said pint, and then pop said pound into a further unsuspecting pintholder's beverage, became the sport du jour. This was a drinking game whose complexity was right up there with “Next!”, and perhaps called “Ploink”. Antediluvians could be easily identified in the crowd, as those walking around shielding the top of their pint with their free hand, against the possibility of a coin shaped missile leading to premature completion of their wobbly pop.
Needless to say, the lengthy bus ride back from the racecourse was a tad more lively than many of the purple passages. Several of the tourists were able to temporarily wrest the microphone away from Radio Man, to display their real or imagined talent at singing folk songs and telling jokes of a colourful nature.
Sunshine On My Highlands Makes Me Happy
On Thursday morning the tourists woke up concerned that they had gotten so besotted the previous day, as to have inadvertently travelled to another country. The sunshine and warm temperatures were so unusual, the Mayor of Edinburgh, Lord Grubb, declared it “Brolly Drying Day”.
It was, of course, a great day for rugby, with the Antediluvians taking on another Scottish side, the Infirm Pelicans, who might have been named the “Copycats”, for having playing jerseys identical in colour to the epic strip of the Antediluvians. Fortunately, the Antediluvians jerseys were a lighter shade of pale on the inside, so with the flick of a stitch, it was game on.
It was another lively contest, however, controversy arose over the referee's choice to eliminate rucking from the game. Captain on the day Radio Man sought to use his best leadership and advocacy skills to try to have this policy reversed at half time, by addressing the ref and the opponents in a loud bus-announcer voice: “Why do you want to play like a bunch of girls?” Incensed by the attitude of the ref and the Scottish opponents, Radio Man decided to lay the mother of all tackles on Scotland itself, impressively thudding into the turf, with Scotland responding to this Ukrainian display of force with a tectonic retaliation against Radio Man's shoulder. An ambulance was parked on the sideline, and two deliverymen with a sense of humour identified themselves as doctors, and offered to effect repairs to Radio Man's broken knob. With his arm freshly duct-taped back to his shoulder, Radio Man announced his retirement from rugby. However, faster than you could say “Brett Favre”, Radio Man was making plans for a comeback after a few restorative pints that afternoon. Doug Z. was man of the match, demonstrating once again his favourite direction is "up the middle".
The afternoon's post-game activities at the marquee were greatly enhanced by being able to hold a pint in each hand, instead of an umbrella in one. It also became apparent that one of the many mythical attributes of the ancient race of Antediluvians included singing while watching a bouncing ball on a television screen. The Antediluvian hordes dominated the karaoke stage, with croonage supplied by the likes of Kim G, Chuck D, Tom O, Mick G, and Ian F. Ian was particularly noteable for leading a lengthy traditional folk song, while the organizers grew apoplectic that he was delaying the start of the “real” entertainment.
TGIF (Thank Gavin It's Friday)
Another day off from putting the boots on, and the Antediluvians went forth in all directions to sample Scotland's tourist bounty. Several dedicated duffers made the pilgrimage to St. Andrews, and from all reports gave their balls a good pounding. Others took the high road, while some took the low road, and those who saw the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond let out a collective “meh”. Local man about town Rolly Mc. took some of the lads on a personalized tour of the Edinburgh area, including stops at all of Rolly's favourite agricultural museums. The evening's activities included taking in the Edinburgh versus Munster game at Murrayfield, with relief all around that the pesky nice weather had moved on, so we could get back to enjoying the traditional Scottish cold wind-blown rain.
Workin' For The Weekend
Saturday was the third and last game day, with the Antediluvians having their first opportunity to play against the antipodians, in this case the Brisbane Red Land Crabs of Australia. This game was marked by the debut of young Stevie T., playing alongside his big daddy-O, Captain of the day Rick T. The Crabs responded by putting out a female on their wing, but it was generally conceded Stevie was the better looking of the two novelty players. Stevie's youthful advantage was so
overwhelming that he was tackled by the referee at one point to balance the play. The Antediluvians distinguished themselves not only with their stellar play, but with their convincing imitation of an army of dead ants. Far from the least of the rugby arthropods, Tom "Imperial" Inch took Ant of the Match.
Also not to be outdone among his fellow ex-hymenoptera, Jumper James C. (M.B.R.) distinguished himself with the scoring of his first-ever try.
The marquee was thereafter once again the scene of many pints, and more Antediluvian karaoke dominance. As the festival neared its end, the trading of team gear reached feverish proportions, with Karen G. single-handedly facilitating more clothing changes than one would see at a Madonna concert. At one point, as shirts were removed to receive the new traded togs, onlookers wondered why Dean B. was wearing a fur coat under his shirt, only to realize that he is, in fact, the world's hairiest man. Dean's regular beach holidays in the Okanagan explain the frequency of reported Bigfoot sightings in British Columbia.
Sunday featured further intensive tourism during the day, and one last riding of the purple, to the site of the festival's wind-up gala dinner and piss up. The Antediluvians once again brought forth their trusty hockey sticks, and marched into the grand venue with the fanciest pot-passers of anyone. An impromptu hockey game on the dance floor, however, was rather quickly discouraged by the events' hosts. Dinner was tasty, with those who had not yet tried haggis observing that it tasted alot like chicken.
Dancing, merriment, a few wee drams, and further fashion exchanges engineered by Karen G., were the order of the evening. The hockey stick dispersal program worked exceedingly well, with many other tourists, including one of the Hastings brothers, seen leaving the venue clutching a Hespeler in hand.
Thus 8 fun filled days drew to a close, with bookings at detox clinics in Edmonton and elsewhere spiking on Monday morning. Some of the Antediluvians spent a few more days soaking up the Scottish weather, (literally) while others jetted off to home, or more exotic locales. The experience whetted the apetite of many of the tourists for the Australian repeat of the festival in 2010, knowing that though we would be older, maturity would happily continue to elude us.
Awards of Merit
Best Singer: Kim G.
Worst Singer: Rick T.
Best Scottish Imitation: Tie: Rollie Mc. and Davey G.
Most Tolerant Spouse: Patty H.
Biggest Appetite: Stevie T.
Most Organized: Hope C.
Best Jumper: James C.
Best Shoulder Brace: Ian F.
Best Trade Facilitator: Karen G.
Deadest Ant: Brian
Best Beer: All
Best Scottish Food: The Toastie
Best Wine Tasting Organizer: Hywel