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.