Mad In England

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Whenever we are approached about a gig, the first thing we usually ask is ‘oh for God’s sake do we have to?’ secondly, where is it what are our chances of making it back, and lastly what level of panic are we likely to experience during the whole experience. For example if we had known about our near fatal trip to the 2007 Isle of Rum festival beforehand, we might well have stayed home and played Call of Duty instead. Anyway the Ska Splash gig was interesting. We agreed to do it late last year, and its one of those situations where you wake up after a heavy night and gig, and you’ve got someone’s name and number, that means absolute nothing, scrawled on a rizla, stuck to your face. You think nothing of it at first but then about six months later your phone rings and someone called Midge or Porky or Snodge or something else that isn’t really a noun or verb, says that your booked on to a gig in Skegness and that he’s chuffed to bits that you’ve agreed to play at their big event, and when will you be arriving.

“Oh yeah sure, we’ve been looking forward to it, big time”, you say, whilst checking it out on the map. Bollocks, its three hundred miles away.

We were still uncertain about the gig right up until the week before we had to go. We realised that Sam was gigging the night before in Thurso, which meant he had to make it three hundred miles to Edinburgh and then another three hundred miles to Skegness. That’s a long way to go. Also Murray was unavailable on that date so it was not ideal, as we didn’t have our starting ten. It wasn’t until we spoke to our Glaswegian cousins The Meanies, that we decided to do it. Now its not common knowledge but most Scottish Ska bands have a hotline to one another for use in extreme emergencies, kind of like the bat phone. Ours is located inside a phrenology bust at our secret headquarters. Anyway, after a top-secret conference call between The Meanies high command and the Bombskare top brass, we agreed that we should both attend, regardless of the difficulties. After all this was billed as the biggest Ska event since the Treaty of Versailles or something. Every other ska band in the country would be there including Prince Buster, The Beat, Skaville UK, plus loads of others. We were the only Scottish bands invited. The Amphetameanies and Bombskare are after all, allegedly, the two oldest Ska bands in Scotland, the Cagney and Lacey of Scottish Ska; The Meanies being the blonde, slightly hotter one; we’d be the brunette, slightly fatter one.

We hatched a plan that involved Andy getting a Murray shaped wig and false beard, and Sam leaving Thurso at midnight, getting two hours sleep whilst being driven to Carrbridge where his van would be parked up, then driving the rest of the way to Edinburgh, arriving around six and getting a few hours kip before heading off with us around nine. Our plan went off without a hitch except for the wig and beard, and Sam locking himself out of his van on the drive from Carrbridge. He had to smash one of his windows to get back in. Also we were travelling during the refinery strike, which meant that the price of fuel was literally increasing before our eyes. By the time we returned to Scotland, diesel had gone from 118p to around 123p per litre.

Skegness is basically a giant beachfront carnival with roller coasters and dodgems and lots of fat people with sunburn. The venue was in the middle of a massive trailer park. It was great, exactly like an episode of Trailer Park Boys. It almost made you want to break out lots of alcohol, and roll big fat blunts just like in the show but of course, we would never do that. We would be representing our country after all and as everyone knows we Scots abroad, especially Scottish Ska bands, are the very definition of dignity and decorum. Any rumours to the contrary can be blamed entirely on The Amphetameanies.

The venue was a biggish place with a low ceiling, and a good-sized stage. There were quite a few people who had travelled from Scotland for the event. I should have known a lot of the people there would be skinheads, and was kicking myself that I wasn’t wearing my ‘Never Trust Whitie’ T-shirt. It wouldn’t be the first time that my awesome sense of humour has got me into trouble with skinheads. We played a forty-five minute set about forty-five minutes after we arrived, kind of thrown straight into it. The Meanies featuring our Tom on sax went on after us and played a good set featuring a new song I hadn’t heard before, which was cool. They needed to borrow Tom because their boy James was off at a Star Trek convention or something. “You Scottish Ska bands are really tight, man,” said one of the engineers afterwards. “Oh yeah, well when did you last buy me a drink”, I replied.

After we finished our sets it was time to relax in our hospitality trailers. Someone kept giving me shots of red bull and whisky, or as I like to call it, red flag to a bull. Delicious. We had a great time and all in all, are glad we went. Still no idea how we actually ended up booked on it, but there you go. Must be one of those strange Wayne’s World scenarios. Book the gig and the bands will come. Whatever next?

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