Dogging, sausage-wearing and a 2,000-year-old grudge: Why I’m joining the Heavy Metal Truants
Let’s get one thing straight: I am a lazy fat knacker.
I’m not a natural athlete. I spent years ripping the piss out of my kids’ love of Wayne Rooney – the original Mr Potatohead – until one of them pointed out that I was built just like him. Especially if you imagined him after 20 more years of deep fried pizzas and Strongbow.
So, nah I’m not doing it to show off, I’m not thinking it will be easy, I have no wish to demonstrate my athleticism. At the time of writing, the furthest I have cycled is 7 miles. For the ride I’ll have to do 50 miles (day 1), 80 miles (day 2), and a mere 20 miles on the final day.
A Classic Rock writer once told me how he totally wrecked his knees – permanently – by running down Ben Nevis, the great twat. This could wreck my knees, ruin my arse and change the shape of my gonads forever.
I know this.
So why am I joining the Heavy Metal Truants?
Well, it’s not for Heavy Metal, that’s for sure. Heavy metal doesn’t need me.
Don’t get me wrong, I do my bit for The Cause. On occasion I have even been known to defend The Faith. But I work on Classic Rock and sit next to Metal Hammer. I’m surrounded by long-haired, tattooed, denim-eating, sausage-wearing, patchouli-oil-drinking greasers. Metal doesn’t need me. I’d only let the side down when it came to the Game of Thrones questions at the pub quiz.
So if not metal is it the Truancy that’s the appeal? Now you’re speaking my language (cf: a lazy fat knacker). Some of my favourite (read “only good”) memories of school involve the times when me and ma muckers went what we called, well, dogging. This kind of dogging did not, however, involve fiddling with a fat lassie’s knockers in a darkened lay-by. (And if it had, at that age, obviously we would have been there like a shot.)
No, dogging was what we called truanting – cutting class, skipping school – and at our school, for an all-too-brief year as our headmaster went slowly senile, it was ridiculously easy to do. I even remember bringing a ghetto blaster to school some days in preparation for a ‘beach party’ (aka a couple of sly fags, a chip roll and a shared bottle of Red Kola down Ardrossan beach), soundtracked by a specially-prepared mixtape featuring The Cult, the Sisters and Hanoi Rocks. Weirdly, I don’t remember any teachers asking why I was lugging around a piece of mobile hi-fi the size of a Mini Metro.
So: truancy = freedom. Getting paid for skiving off and having a laugh? For charity? With the Download festival at the end of it? Oh, OK then.
So that’s the only reason? Well, no. There’s another. And it’s almost 2000 years old.
I’m doing this cos Metal Hammer Editor Alexander Milas asked me to. Last year he did the Truants ride across the deserts of Morocco. From what I could tell, his training consisted of switching from Marlboro Reds to Marlboro Lights and raising an eyebrow twice a day.
Now, I am 5′ 10″ and 12st 9lb. I have what a mate of mine describes as “the Scottish curse” – a long back and short legs. Alex Milas is oooh six and a half foot, I’m guessing. He’s Italian.
In short, he’s a fucking Roman and I’m a Pict.
His lot marched all the way across Europe, plundering and civilising, building roads and installing central heating as they went. They stopped when they got to Scotland.
In Scotland, we like to say that this is because of our indomitable Celtic nature. The Romans may have stomped through Gaul and romped across England but they knew that they had bitten off more than they could chew by taking on the Scottish. Who could blame them? They’d come a long way. They’d had a hard day. They’d probably broken a nail or something. Couldn’t get their foot spas to work. Someone burnt the spaghetti sauce – who knows? Either way, they were faced with fighting these savage little ankle-biters or leaving them to it.
So they rounded up a bunch of English slaves and built Hadrian’s Wall to hide behind, the big jessies.
That’s the Scottish version. The rest of the world knows the truth. The Romans got to County Durham, decided that a) it was fucking freezing, b) it was a total and absolute fucking shite-hole* and c) nothing of any worth could possibly lie beyond the horizon. So they fucking locked us in.
Then they fucked off to Lake Garda, threw some Christians on the fire and got all Caligula with each other.
Well I’m not having it. They can keep their Popes and their cappuccinos and their fancy-dan tailoring.
I know what you’re thinking: “Leave it, Scott. We’re even. That score’s settled. We got our own back by inventing some of modern civilisation’s greatest achievements. Irn-Bru. Tennent’s Lager. Tunnock’s Tea Cakes.” And you’re right, pal, but it’s not about that.
I’m doing this for the little man. The angry. The dispossessed. The pissed-off and the incredibly pissed. I’m doing it because “they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”
That’s right: I’m doing it for Mel Gibson.
I love you, man.