There and Back Again

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In a city in Scotland there lived a band. Not a nasty, run down, post industrial slag heap of a city, filled with hooded top wearing, knife carrying hooligans on every street corner, and chip shops that sold downright dangerous food, like Glasgow or Dundee: it was a nice city with bistros and book shops and Waitrose. It was Edinburgh and that meant comfort. For some.

It had a perfectly round city bypass like a doughnut, which sometimes wasn’t completely useless. It had a castle on a hill, lots and lots of pubs, and once a year all the useless bastards in the world would arrive in the city and block all the streets, mainly in August. It was a very comfortable city usually, in spite of the traffic wardens and MSPs, and the band was fond of living there.

This band was a reasonably well-regarded band, and their name was Bumberskwat, sorry, Bombskare. They had lived and played in Edinburgh for a long time and were respected by the locals not only because they played loud and fast but because they absolutely never had any adventures. Even their set lists were completely unadventurous, with songs in A Major and C Major, and lots of cheesy covers of The Specials and Toots and the Maytals. This is a story of how, one day, the band decided to go on an adventure and found themselves doing and saying lots of strange and unusual things.

One day a long time ago, about three weeks roughly, the band were scheduled to play in their home city of Edinburgh, with legendary Ska outfit The Toasters which in of itself would be a super adventure for most bands, but for Bumberskwat, sorry Bombskare, this would not pass muster. Andy Bo bandy Pennycuik, chief instigator in the band declared, “This isn’t even remotely adventurous enough. Why I have bigger adventures each morning on my way to the chemist for my prescription barley sugar.”

“I agree”, said Murray, stifling a yawn. “We did this last year and I was bored to tears”.

“You know what would make this gig more adventurous?” said Papa Joe, the oldest and wisest member of the band. “We could play a gig in a far away place, like London, the night before the gig in Edinburgh”. He took a long draw on his big clay pipe and blew a giant smoke ring. “That means we would have to play two gigs and drive a round trip of about eight hundred miles. That would be exciting.”

“Is that even possible?” asked Colin, the shy and gullible trumpet. Player. “I don’t know,” said Andy Bo bandy, “but there’s only way to find out.” So they all went to speak to Scott, the band’s logistics expert and senior meteorologist.

“Well, I suppose its possible” he said whilst peering at a giant map on his desk, through a large monocle over his right eye. “There’s a road that goes all the way there.” He peered closer. “But it goes past this hellish looking place called… Bir..ming..ham.” He shuddered and dropped his monocle. He turned to peer through a giant telescope pointed out the window at an ominous grey sky. “Also there’s a terrible storm hitting England just now, worst in ages. Could be risky.”

“There you go again. Why do you have to hit me with those negative waves so early in the morning?” said Colin. “Think sunny skies and we’ll have sunny skies”. So with that bit of insane optimism it was settled. The band Bumberskwat, sorry, Bombskare, would be having an adventure after all. A super adventure.

They set off in three vehicles, always being careful to separate the three most important members of the band into three different vehicles, in case of accidents. Andy in one, Murray in the other and Sam in the other, naturally. The trip started well, only one hour late in departing. They made it out of Scotland easily enough and half way down England with little incident. It wasn’t until they reached the urban death labyrinth known as Birmingham that they ran into trouble. The traffic had slowed to a crawl. And the weather was getting particularly inclement.

By the time they reached London it was rush hour, but because time flows differently the closer you are to the equator, rush hour in London is actually four hours. The band arrived on time barely, and went on stage to a respectable sized audience who had braved the weather to come and watch the respectable sized Bumberskwat, sorry Bombskare, do that hoodoo, that they do, so well. Pleased with their performance and the outcome of their adventure thus far, they retired to the bar for some light refreshments and relaxation. Little did they know what tomorrow was to bring.

After a rude awakening with surprisingly little panic and shouting, they started off from London on time but had only ten hours to make it back for a sound check in Edinburgh at around eight thirty. Fortunately they had equipment waiting for them at the venue, and The Toasters would be the first band on. Things started well but before they had even escaped London, traffic came to a complete standstill. The weather was terrible causing a truck to overturn spilling its load, and the road was closed for an hour.

After this setback there was another problem. Jay, the band mascot, who isn’t normally allowed to drive unsupervised, found himself unsupervised when the M4 motorway split into M6 and M1. Mike, Murray and Tom were all asleep when Jay took the wrong motorway and headed up the M1, which, it is true, would bring you back to Scotland, but is, as we shall see, the wrong motorway. The other two cars made it back to Scotland with about an hour to spare. Meanwhile, as the weather worsened dramatically, Jay and company got as far as Newcastle where they discovered that all the roads were flooded. Morpeth was underneath three feet of water, three people had died because of it, the M1 north of Newcastle was closed, and most of the other roads were closed because of landslides and flooding. After being directed up the Coldstream road, they got as far as actually into Scotland before they hit another road block, to be told that they would have to turn back all the way to Newcastle and find another route. By now the band was running out of time, and were actually facing the possibility of going on stage with only six members. The doors were open and The Toasters would be on soon. After careful study of various maps they realised there was only one other road back, the coast road that did not look promising. At this point when things were looking blackest, as they were heading back to England, they came across a B road that wasn’t on any of the maps. They had been warned not to stray from the path but by this point, after nearly eleven hours driving, they gambled and took the side road. What did they have to lose?

By this time The Toasters were on stage. And as the Toasters played, the rest of Bumberskwat, sorry Bombskare waited and prayed for good luck. Even Colin, normally optimistic with a cheery demeanour seemed depressed. The night was surely doomed. The die was cast. The Fates had spoken.

And then, the gods smiled! The scary little B road brought the car out onto the motorway north of the flooding. They had the whole road in front of them completely clear of any traffic all the way back to Edinburgh. It was a miracle. After racing back furiously they arrived at the venue with fifteen minutes to spare before the band had to get on stage, and the night was saved. Hooray!! Afterwards the band agreed that it had all been very exciting but from now on they would prefer a nice quiet life with very little excitement, and absolutely no adventures ever again. And they never did, living happily ever after. Yeah, right!

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