Saturday was supposed to be about making sure we get up by 7, have some breakfast and head south from Skye to make it to Dunfermline by 2. Most reading this blog will not understand my obsession with watching England’s men’s rugby team play but today is supposed to be a chance to end the 6 Nations Tournament on a high with a victory over the Irish.
I thought if we get to Dunfermline in good time we could find a great pub there. If all goes well we would find a quiet snug to watch the game. Two reasons that a quiet snug out of the way was in order. The first was I wanted to hear the TV announcers call the game, and second, if any Scotsman noticed I was cheering for England, there may have been an angry scene from Braveheart improvised at our table.
The Scots get along with the English in so many ways except Rugby or Soccer or any other sport for that matter. To recap, we had 5 hours to make the journey in the glorious sunshine and then an hour to unwind before kickoff.
Well sunshine and beautiful mountian scapes gave way to a significant loss of visibility and blowing snow. Two weeks ago the so named “beast from the east” hit the UK with a bout of bad weather that has not been seen in years. Today and two weeks hence we have plunged back into the belly of that beast. Simply put we could not see a hand in front of our faces and that happened in just a matter of seconds.
So driving on already challenging roads went from bad to worse. When you see drivers do stupid things in these conditions your blood pressure spikes and explatiffs may sneak out at speed. As we rounded the next blind corner I see a van full of tourists from Asia that have decided to stop dead in the oncoming lane to scout potential photo opportunities near the adjacent river. If perhaps their choice would have included a safer location or at minimum pulling off the road, I suppose I would have understood. When you park in such a fashion other drivers following behind are provided only one choice, and that is to pull into oncoming traffic to get around.
I swerved to miss the 5 Series BMW and luckily no damage was caused. This did however cause my temper to rage a tad. As such I was not paying attention to the pot hole that soon swallowed up our front passenger wheel. That in turn set off the tire pressure alarm almost immediately. So that’s cool. Flat tire in the Scottish Highlands. No cell coverage, no handbook in the glove compartment and only a few of the tools in the boot required for a simple tire change.
Regardless cooler heads prevailed (Deanna) and we got down to the business of jacking up the Focus and putting on the donut. Twenty minutes later and we were on our way with filthy hands and strained lower backs. 50 ain’t easy! Eventually we got phone service and we began the process of enquiring what to do to have the tire and clearly bent rim looked at or the car replaced. As you can imagine the more laborious of options is what they (Enterprise) start with. I was hoping for, “We will bring the car to you in Dunfermline sir and we will swap you.” Instead we got, “You better find a National Tyre outlet Sir and have the damage repaired.”
Things you may have already guessed. Number one, the guys at National Tyre couldn’t be bothered. As timing and luck would have it both were otherwise focussed on their local drug dealer who had recently stopped by to drop off a couple of very small plastic bags. There were two “service specialists” at this location. One couldn’t stop doing whatever he was doing (not working) to focus on us. The second one I have appropriately named Ruprect, was clearly wearing safety glasses to prevent him from plunging his own fork into his bastard eyes. We sat in the car for almost an hour before our inattentive customer service rep even gazed at the wheel and then he decided that a rubber mallet would save the day. Well to my surprise customer service representative number one, who by the way resembled Rent Boy of Train Spotting fame did good. I could almost here him grumble:
“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, sticking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting
Our damaged wheel and tyre went back on and away we went in under two hours (for a 5 minute job). We left Perth and motored on to Dunfermline to the welcome face of Lizzy at the desk of the Holiday Inn Express. “Thank you for being a Spire Elite Customer Sir!” Thank you Lizzy for having everything ready. We shoved our gear into our room and checked the score. I should have known & I guess I shouldn’t complain as it is St. Paddy’s Day. The Irish faces were smiling. They had beaten the English at their own game on their own field.
One thing I know for sure is that when you are depressed, beer is the best remedy. Down the road was the Elizabethan and its draft taps o’plenty. No Irish here but lots of Scotsman drinking lots of Tennants. We decided to join them as we know we can’t beat them. To add to the little mercies came a decision to order the Haggis Balls with whiskey cream sauce.