Monday, February 18, 2008

JBO to Riga June 2007

THIS BLOG ENTRY IS BEING WRITTEN RETROSPECTIVELY AND IN RESPONSE FROM CONSTANT BADGERING FROM KEVIN TO DO IT.

ALL EVENTS WERE DOCUMENTED BY ME IN MY LITTLE NOTEPAD AT THE TIME AND THEREFORE FOR THE MOST PART ARE PRETTY ACCURATE.

I, OF COURSE HAVE RESERVED THE RIGHT TO EMBELISH ALL STORIES AND LEAVE OUT IMPORTANT DETAILS AS I SAW FIT.

I DISCOVERED THAT I COULD UPLOAD VIDEOS STRAIGHT TO MY BLOG RATHER THAN THROUGH YOUTUBE, SO GET THE POPCORN OUT FOR THIS ONE.

HOPE YOU ENJOY!!!

DAY 1

Our annual Jolly Boy's Outing (JBO) was heading to Eastern Europe again. This time our destination was Latvia's capital city, Riga and all the usual suspects were in attendance with the exception of Hammey who could not make it. However, we had some new blood in the shape of Frank Phinn's Bother, Gary and Del's work colleague, Manfi.

With the imminent departure of Thomas who was emigrating to Australia with Kath, the decision had been made to turn the JBO into a stag weekend in his honour-even though he wasn't getting married! This was a closely guarded secret with Gingerbaws not supposed to find out until we reached Riga.

Jim Arthur had organised the obligatiory T-shirts emblazoned with 'Gingerman Goes To Oz' on the front and a Superman style 'G' and with our stag names on the back. All for the bargain price of ONLY £33 each!

Wearing your pants outside your trousers was optional!

Therefore the full list of dobbers in attendance were:
  • Me - Sir Wanksalot.

  • Thomas - Boaby Muncher.

  • James Arthur - Bitch Slave

  • Del - Le Dobber

  • James Snelling - Portrush Pig

  • Kevin - Gobshite

  • Frank Phinn - Fatty Phinn

  • Gary Phinn - Dug Baws

  • James H - Emperor Tim

  • Manfred - Swiss Piss
We were flying out from Liverpool and Jim Arthur had volunteered to drive Thomas and I down there. Portrush Pig was making his own way there from Crewe and Gary Phinn, who I had never met before, was making his own way down from Scotland.

I had spent the evening in Dumbarton with Susan in a growing state of boyhood excitement at the upcoming weekend and she was, no doubt, probably glad to see the back of me when Jim and Thomas arrived to pick me up at 11.30.

We chatted briefly outside Susan's house but as we were being devoured by midges we said our goodbyes and headed off. Thomas had bagsied the front seat beside Jim, however being in the back of the car wasn't such a bad thing as I managed to get a couple of hours kip on the way down.















We arrived at Liverpool's John Lennon airport at 0400 and made our way to the bar for a fry up breakfast and our first beer of the day. Gary appeared and joined us as we waited for the plane to embark.

We were getting worried that Snelling had not made it as the time to board the plane arrived, and after some urgent texting from Thomas we discovered that the Portrush Pig was a step ahead of us and was already sitting on the plane.

We easily found the big guy on the plane (well he is kind of hard to miss) and pretty soon after take off the drinking began in earnest in what was going to be a very long day.

Ryanair, who we were flying with were shite! Their lumenescent blue and yellow livery was giving me a headache. They made Sleezyjet look posh, but that's what happens when you decide to do it cheap and cheerful I suppose.

A few hours later and we had touched down in Riga and upon turning on our mobile phones Thomas announced that Del and Co's flight had been cancelled due to bad weather and there was a possibility that they might not be joining us at all. However, as more details came in, it turned out that they would be flying in from Zurich instead, which meant the Scottish lads would have a drinking headstart.

By 1200 our group had arrived at the Reval hotel, which was lovely and after dumping our stuff in our rooms we made our way to the hotel bar and ordered vodka and Red Bulls all round to kick-start the drinking.















The Switzer- France boys arrived about an hour later and after a quick catch-up, a couple of drinks and the first slaggings of the day everyone headed to their rooms for a shower and to adorn their stag T-shirts and some of us put their kilts on too.

Thomas was delighted to be having a surprise stag weekend. Unfortunately we had an early casualty. Gary had fallen asleep in his room and in totally unacceptable stag protocol, would not be joining us for the evening.

Anyway, the weekend stag rules and punishments for breaking them were announced. They were:

  • Own names not allowed - individuals to be addressed only by stag names on back of T-shirts. Failure to do so means you have to drink '2 fingers of beer'.
  • There would be two referees for the weekend (Boaby Muncher not allowed to be one of them) who would have yellow and red cards to inflict punishments as they saw fit.

  • Yellow card - 2 fingers of beer.

  • Red card - down drink in one.

  • Argue with ref's decision - down drink in one.

  • If two ref's disagree on punishment then group has a vote on punishment.

  • If person moans about punishment - they must suck on baby's dummy until told otherwise.

The decision was made that we should stand up one by one and announce our stag names in a loud and clear voice with a cheer going up from the group as each person took the floor and more or less shouted their names out. The staff in the hotel looked less than impressed.












It was time to venture out and so we made our way into the streets of Riga. we did not have a tour guide this year as we had previously at Del's stag, we were just going to have to wing it this time.

We found a nice bar in the square of the old town and sat outside for a beer. I was getting dog's abuse for wearing white trainers with my kilt and was subsequently red carded. Silly punishments were being handed out by the refs for the slightest 'crimes' and every time that a yellow card offence was committed the group sang 'two fingerrrrrssss' to the tune of 'Goldfinger'. Fannies!

It was warm and sunny in the square as we moved from bar to bar, happily ripping the pish out of each other as we went. A local approached me and asked to take a picture of the back of my Sir Wanksalot T-shirt, God only knows why but it looks like I had become a local tourist attraction!














Gobshite beat me over the head repeatedly with a menu in one pub, much to my annoyance - a sure sign that we were all starting to get pished and the day was still young.














Some food was needed in an attempt to soak up some of the alcohol, so we ended up in a place called Steitu Haoss. Can't say that I honestly remember what the food was like or if it was any good, but it filled a space.











We then moved onto a wine bar where, much to our amusement, Gary had woken from his slumber and had decided to join us to much abuse and then we were onto an Irish theme bar which was pretty good too.

After frequenting several more 'establishments' we ended up in a club which, much to our delight had a table football and a mini tournament was soon underway.

We stayed there for a couple of hours before deciding to head back to the hotel which had a very smart rooftop bar called the Skyline Bar. We met another stag party from England and after a bit of banter we challenged them to a wrestling match.

However, the bouncers who were obviously sensing trouble quickly intervened to stop the contest before it had even began. I think we would have taken them, but we'll never know...

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It was after 0200 by now and people were dropping like flies. I had been drinking for 21 hours by now and the sensible thing to do would have been to go to bed, but that wasn't going to happen.

The die-hards amongst us, Thomas, Del, Emperor Tim and I went down to the hotel casino while everyone else rolled back to their rooms in drunken stupours.

Thomas and Del gambled a little and lost a little bit too, I think. I had enough sense to realise that I was a bit to pished to have any chance of gambling and winning and therefore Emperor Tim and I just watched the proceedings. When Del took a picture with his camera and was immediately surrounded by burly bouncers who made him delete it, it was definently time to leave.

We made our way back to the rooms and outside mine and Jim's room, Del and Thomas discovered that there was an ice cube dispensing machine on the wall and came up with the ingenious idea that we should 'rush' Jim as he slept and throw ice cubes at him.

I thought that this was taking things a bit too far, however once the decision had been made to do it, I happily joined in grabbing as many ice cubes as I could. I opened the door and the three of us jumped on top of an unconcious Jim Arthur and rub ice cubes all over him.


Jim was not happy!


DAY 2

I woke at 1200 and did not feel too bad, but then again I was still pished. After a shower, Jim and I headed to McDonalds for some breakfast and I had the best McD's that I have ever had. It actually tasted nice!

The plan today was to go quad biking and Jim decided that he needed a new jacket for it so we trudged around for the best part of an hour to eventually return to the first shop we looked in to buy one that he had saw there.

Back at the hotel, the group had gathered in the bar and were decidedly less boisterous than they had been the night before with some more than others looking decidedly fragile!

We were picked up from the hotel at 2.00 for the half hour drive to our destination. When we got there a dozen bright yellow quadbikes were lined up and ready to go. You could see a glint in everyone's eyes.

The man in charge explained that he would get the BBQ going while we were on the quadbikes and that we should just help ourselves to bottles of beer. Drinking beer while driving a quadbike? What could possibly go wrong?

Everyone wisely decided to curtail their drinking until after their turn on the quads. Next he produced disclaimers for all of us to sign basically saying that any accidents or death were not his fault, which was reassuring.

He then produced white disposeable boiler suits for each of us to protect our own clothing. Much to everyone's amusement, Portrush Pig had brought his own along and slipped into his little black number while we laughed at him. He even did a 'calendar' pose for us, carrying two tyres but unfortunately he refused to strip down to the waist as he probably knew that any pictures taken would end up on a gay dating website.

The BBQ was started while we were given a quick tutorial on how to drive the quadbikes. Unfortunately since there were so many of us we were split into two groups with the first group of Del, Thomas, Gary, Frank and James H going first 'on safari' for twenty minutes before returning for a couple of laps around the dirt track.














Now it was time for me, Jim Arthur, James Snelling, Kevin and Manfred to head out. I had attached my Action Cam to my helmet ready to record the race and the young lad who was leading the group just looked bewildered at why I had a camera on my head.

It did not take long to figure out that there was not too much skill involved in driving a quadbike - accelerate, brake and try not to fall off - that's about it!

We raced each other off into the countryside with the young lad pulling us up several times when we were getting a bit too boisterous with our driving. We were screaming along as fast as we could with the exception of the Portrush Pig who's severe weight disadvantage meant that he could not keep up with us. We had to stop several times to wait for him to catch up with us, which caused much hilarity.







There were a group of locals camping in the forest who had a camp fire going and were swigging away on their booze. They shouted a bit of Latvian abuse as passed them so we stopped a safe distance away and let Piggy catch up. We did not want to leave him there incase they ate him!

After that it was plain sailing as we zoomed back to base and had a couple of laps around the dirt track before pulling over to join the others for some dodgy BBQ food.

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After a short break it was time for some racing around the track. I was loving it and was getting a bit gallus when I set the fastest lap time of 21.46 seconds and made the mistake of thinking that I was Lewis Hamilton when in fact, I was more like Ozzy Osbourne.

I took great plessure in lapping as many people as I could. However, it was almost inevitable that I was going to come a cropper. Which I did.

As I screamed round for the umpteenth time, thinking to myself that another couple of laps would do it before I retired gracefully, I took the last corner a bit too sharply and in a split second I felt myself summersaulting through the air. I landed in a heap with my right hand taking the brunt of the impact and as the quadbike landed upside down on top of me, the brake lever gouged deeply into my left leg.

I lay there for what seemed a long time but probably wasn't, knowing that I had done some damage but I was unsure how bad it was. I looked up to see Kevin running towards me and the look on his face told me that it must have been bad. Del and James pulled over to see if I was ok, but despite me saying that I was, the blood running down my leg told a different story.

Kev told me later that the guys had thought for a couple of laps that I was going to come off and when I finally did the guy in charge just startred to laugh in a 'you signed the disclaimer, so tough shit if you are dead' kind of way.

The guys righted the quadbike for me and advised me to retire 'gracefully', but being the fanny that I am I climbed back on and after a few careful laps I opened up the throttle and proceeded to set a new lap time of 20.89 seconds!






When I finally gave up I got some first-aid from which consisted of hydrogen peroxide poured into my open leg wound. It didn't have any noticeable effect except bleaching some of the hairs on my leg a few shades lighter.

We headed back to the hotel and after a quick shower we were out again. The streets were a lot quiter tonight as it was a public holiday and finding in decent bars that were open was hard work. However, we eventually found one that sold food too and had a half decent meal before moving on.

We used a technique that we had learned last night of going into strip bars where the first drink is free (but you are expected to pay the girls to dance with you) and then leaving as quickly as possible before the bouncers (or the strippers) decided to kick seven shades of shit out of us.

Eventually we ended up in the Skybar again and drank as we chatted, acted like dobbers and watched a beautiful sunset over the city. Meanwhile, Fatty Phinn lapsed into a drink induced coma in his chair and being the good mates that we are we ripped the absolue pish out of him making him dance in time to the music, ably assisted by his Brother as he sat there blissfully unaware.

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Elsewhere, things were getting a bit out of hand with Jim and Thomas spitting drinks over each other. It was never going to have a happy ending and when Jim poured a Long Island Iced Tea over Thomas and Thomas responded by ripping Jim's brand new shirt off him, a line had been crossed.

Jim dissapeared and I informed Thomas that Jim didn't look very happy and had went back to his room to change. We went to find him but he was nowhere to be found so we returned to the Skyline Bar to find Jim sitting there with a clean, unripped shirt on. He played down the whole incident saying that he wasn't pissed off. I wasn't convinced as I know that I would have been.

We made our way down to the Voodoo Club, the hotel's nightclub and soon realised that the place was full of prostitutes and their Russian Mafiaesq -type pimps. A wide berth was made of them so that we didn't end up sleeping with the fishes so we just danced away and drank somemore before getting to bed around 0300.

DAY 3

I woke up at 1000 with an aching head and an extremely sore finger from the day before's crash. The finger next to my pinky on my right hand was swollen and bent to one side. The guys were convinced that it was broken but an x-ray when I got back home said that it wasn't.

Thomas, Del and James Snelling arrived to give technical support as we tried to transfer yesterday's quadbike Action Cam video footage to my Creative player so that we could watch it on the TV in the hotel room.

Thomas asked if I had brought the AV cable for the Action Cam so that we could just watch it straight from the camera without all the hastle of transferring it. I had not and they were quick to tell me that I was a fanny because of it.

We left it transferring and went to McD's for breakfast and then to the local market to buy gifts before returning to the hotel room to watch the now transferred quadbike footage. There was laughter all round at the Portrush Pig's slowness, however everyone agreed that it would have been even funnier if I had still had the camera rolling when I crashed!

We headed downstairs to be picked up for todays event - paintballing!

We were driven to the outskirts of the city to a dissused factory that had derelict car wrecks scattered around covered in multi coloured paint from past battles.



We were issued with army style boilersuits and safety masks before being given a safety briefing and had the rules explained to us. There would be two minute games and when you were shot you had to raise your hand to let everyone know that you were out of the game.














We were split into two teams and after a bit of debate we decided on Scots versus Switzerfrancers. Jim Arthur had, probably sensibly, decided not to take part and took to the roof of a van with the event organiser, to film us. Why no-one shot such an ample target as he stood there, I will never know.

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The first game began and quickly turned to farce as a dangerous mix of excitement and testosterone made of my team shoot each other rather than the enemy team.

It was bloody sore when I was shot and I quickly regreted only wearing shorts and a shirt under my boilersuit. I made a mental note to myself that if I ever did this again I would wear something with a bit of padding for protection.

Early on, I was shot on the exact same spot on the inside of my thigh, a couple of inches from my manhood. This had me clenching my butt-cheeks in fear for the rest of our time there.

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Buying ammunition was as cheap as chips and we all reloaded a couple of times with multi-coloured bullets in between battles. Jim must have been loving watching us running around like twats from his vantage point as he had a great view of some comic moments including Dug Baws falling over barrels as he ran arond like Rambo! (see clip below)

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I had my Action Cam on again for some font line footage. The thought that having a video camera strapped to my safety helmet would make me a more conspicous target was lost on me. Click below to see the same clip as above filmed from the Action Cam (and hear me screaming like a little girl when I got shot in the ass!)


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We headed back to the hotel and recounted our war stories over a beer. After a quick shower we headed into town with Thomas being made to wear the 'Beverly Hills 90210, Jason Priestly' stag T-shirt. We had dinner in a place called the Amsterdam Bar, but the food was awful.

A good venue needed to be found for the JBO Kangaroo Court and so we made our way to Dickens Bar which was basically meant to be a traditional style English pub, only it was in Latvia! It even had a dartboard, so after a few games of darts and too many 'Bullseye' jokes to list here, the court was in session.





Punishment pints were ordered from the bar and Zambucha shots to get us warmed up. Gobshite had been taking notes over the last few days of peoples crimes and misdemeanors and charges were read out one at a time with the chant of 'GUILTY!' coming from all of us as each charge, no matter how ridiculous , was announced by Judge Gobshite. Pints of beer were downed in one, by the guilty ones i.e., everyone.

The dissapointing meal from earlier on had left everyone hungry and so we went to TGI Fridays. The staff were not very happy about serving us in our inebriated state until we ordered one of everything from the food menu and suddenly we were made to feel very welcome!















The food was lovely and since this was our last night here the drinking was stepped up again with our behaviour in TGI Fridays leaving a lot to be desired as you can see from the video clip below

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The staff were glad to see the back of us as we moved elsewhere and we found ourselves back in the square again. Thomas still had his Jason Preistly T-shirt on and the hunt was on to find a replacement as tradition dictates that the stag T-shirt must be swapped for a new one, the more outrageous and ridiculous looking, the better.

We weren't dissapointed as, after a lot of negotiating, Thomas managed to persuade a young barmaid to swap her tiny pink top for our Jason Preistly one. Looking suitably stupid, Thomas rejoined us to a huge cheer.

An American called Billy Bob hooked onto us and bought us all a beer and we chatted away with him for a while. Meanwhile Emperor Tim was challenging locals to an arm wrestling contest, which he lost.

Sensing that things could easily go pear shaped we headed back to the hotel at 0130. A few gave up and went to bed while the remaining knobheads (including myself) carried on until 0330.

When it was time to go back to our rooms we were too tired even to storm the room and get Jim Arthur with ice cubes again...

DAY 4

Jim's alarm went off at 0730 and boy, did I feel rough when I awoke.

After showering, we headed to the hotel restaraunt and tried to eat something substantial before the long journey home.

We said our goodbyes to the Switzerfrancers and headed to the airport to the longest check-in queue that I have ever seen. We eventually boarded the plane and settled down to 'enjoy' the flight with ever increasing hangovers.

Back in Liverpool, we picked up the car and headed back up the road, stopping just before Carslile for a late lunch. Jim had sensibly stopped drinking quite early on, the previous night and luckily for us, was feeling ok for the drive. Thomas and I just wanted it to be over.

I went for a kip in the back of Jim's car, just as I had done on the way down to Liverpool and obviously the last few days had taken their toll on me physically AND emotionally as the picture below shows. Thomas snapped me lying in the fetal position, sucking my thumb!



As we crossed the border from England to Scotland, the sun emerged from the gloom and shone brightly.

It was good to be home!

Click on the link below to view all the pictures from the JBO

http://www.photobox.co.uk/slideshow/viewer.html?c_album=5921933