A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Rum


Our trip to Rum was interesting. More eventful than I usually like. I like it when we plan to leave at a certain time and to arrive at a later time and for their to be no hiccups at all. However when you lead the kind of action filled lives that we lead, with one hair raising escapade after another, and danger around every corner, you get used to making your travel arrangements as if you are in an episode of Mission Impossible.

The trip started in Fife. We played in Leslie at The Greenside Hotel once again, with Root System and Joe Viterbo on the Friday night. We were two men down as Tom and Jim wanted to go to the Rum festival over the whole weekend and the rest of us elected to play the gig without them. That’s democracy for you. We had a good night once again, and stayed over there thinking we would get a head start on the drive up to Mallaig to catch the ferry at 2.30pm. That was as far as our good planning went. We drove up through Glencoe on Saturday morning and were in Fort William at around one.

Just outside Fort William, disaster struck. With just over an hour to get forty miles to Mallaig, there was suddenly this almighty grinding noise from the underneath the van, metal grinding on metal, followed by metal grinding on tarmac. The prop shaft had broken and was gouging huge chunks out of the road. The sound was awful. Really awful. I nearly puked, it was that bad. It sounded like we were in a plane that was going down. Andy, being a bit drunk, thought we were about to explode and was shouting ‘bale out!…every man for himself!’ whilst wrestling with the side door. Everyone was shouting and jumping up and down, women were fainting, I hit the brakes and the van screeched slowly to a halt. Sure enough the prop shaft was broken, but thankfully there was no other serious damage, except to about 200 yards of the A830. It could have been much worse. I have been told the prop shaft could have flipped the van over, probably killing everyone spectacularly. That’s how you want to go, my friends! Lynrd Skynrd style. At this point we are realising that we have missed the ferry but we need to get to Rum so we can play on the Sunday, and get paid, so we can pay to fix the van and get home. It was also at this point that I realise that we need one hell of a Plan B, and also that everyone except for me was pretty drunk. Since I knew the van wasn’t going anywhere, I cracked open a beer. To calm my shattered nerves.

The breakdown guy showed up an hour later and told us he can fix the van but probably not until Monday. I couldn’t believe it. I thought the van was a write off. We got him to drop us at the train station at Bavenie. The plan was to get the train to Mallaig and get Lachie to take us over to Rum on his rib. That’s a wee speedboat type thing for all you land lubbers out there. We had used his services on a couple of occasions over the last few years and were just going to hope that our gear didn’t get too wet on the ride over. And hope that he was reasonably sober. I have to admit, I didn’t like this plan at the time. Too many ‘ifs’ and ‘maybe’s’ and ‘hopefully not drown’s in it. However we needed to get to Rum. We needed that gig cheque.

It was a two hour wait for the train. Two hours of drinking and taking silly photos. By the time it came, everyone was drunk. Probably for the best. Beautiful scenery on the way up and finally we arrived in Mallaig. Me met our mate Dod Copeland there. By this time, the whisky was out and Andy was so drunk he was refused alcohol in the Co Op in Mallaig, but he wasn’t as drunk as Lachie, our boat-man. He was really drunk, but by this stage we didn’t care, so we loaded up the boat, covered the gear in tarpaulin and suited up with our life jackets. Lachie disappeared back into the pub so we had to send someone to bring him back to the boat. Finally we were off. As we were leaving I could have swore I saw an albatross. Somebody said that it was bad luck. I disagreed. The albatross only became bad luck after some idiot shot it.

We crossed over the sea to Skye. There’s nothing like salt water in the face and a morbid fear of drowning to sober you up. Picked up a couple of hitchhikers. Then on to Rum just in time for the sun going down. Lachie got us there in fine shape, in less than an hour which was a lot quicker than the ferry would have been. We actually arrived not much later than we were supposed to, and its not often you get to arrive at your gig in a speedboat. We got to the campsite and got pitched just as the light faded. After warming up next to a campfire for half an hour, it was off to the party.

We always manage to arrive a day after everyone else just as the party is peaking which is excellent. We also arrived in time to see the Peatbog Faeries yet again, who are amazing. They played for hours, right up till four in the morning. The Saturday night was a bit of a haze for people I guess. Once the drink and drugs take hold then all bets are off. Sam and Andy were so hammered that they looked like their spines had been replaced with strips of blu tack. It was a mess. I remember at one point crying out loudly in my best Dr Thompson impersonation, ‘we’re right in the middle of a fucking reptile zoo! And somebody’s giving booze to these goddamn thing!’ Apologies to anyone who may have had a negative encounter with anyone in the band that night. I know that some people may have been slightly upset by our somewhat forward manner, but in our defence, we had been having a difficult day. We drank for most of the night, and I know that by lunch time on Sunday, a few people hadn’t been to bed. By the time we took the stage at around 2pm, Andy, Colin and Sam (amongst others) could hardly stand.

We went on and as usual by the end of the first song, the island was awake again, and the party was back on track. I’m not sure how long we played but it felt like ages. Andy was so drunk he did the entire gig impersonating Borat, so we were temporarily the famous Kazakhstani Bombskare. In spite of that we came back on for an encore. It was a great day and after all the hassle of just getting onto the stage, it felt like one of the best gigs we’ve ever done. Thanks to everyone again for putting up with our drunken ramblings and again, apologies to anyone offended. All in all it was a terrific festival. Hopefully it wont be the last one. Sandy and Felicity, the organisers, invited us to play at their wedding next year, so we’ll apply the pressure when we‘re back up there. We were also invited to several other smaller festivals on the strength of it, so fingers crossed we’ll be back up at some point. And we got our gig cheque. Our ticket home.

After that a lot of people were leaving the island, including my mate Tim, who agreed to take Andy and Analene down the road with them. Most of us had to stay till the following day to come back with the van, so once we had resigned ourselves to that, it was back to the party. I bumped into Pete ‘Solenoid‘ that night, formerly of the Fountainbridge Collective. I also remember coming to an agreement with Iain Copeland that we should swap bands. I would drum for the Peatbog Faeries, and he would play guitar for Bombskare. Lets face it, nobody would notice. Two money grabbing weedgie bastards, we’re identical. Aye, that’s whisky for ye. Great night had by all. The following day we were still not sure whether the van was actually going to be ready. Plus we didn’t know how we were getting from Mallaig to Fort William with all our gear. We had some help from our Becky, and John from Croft No. 5, who between them, seem to know everybody north of Oban. They secured us transport to Fort William. Once there we discovered the van was fixed and running like a dream. I still can’t believe it.

So all in all, eventful. At least we are still in one piece. Next week its Aberdeen. Did I mention, we might be supporting Toots and the Maytals this year? I’m not usually a praying man, but Elvis, if you’re up there, please tell Superman to make it happen….

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