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Fear and Loathing in St Andrews

by Andy Johnson. Published Tue 07 Sep 2021 19:09, last updated: 19/09/21

We were somewhere around Dumfries eating dessert when The Bug began to take hold.

I remember saying something like "I feel light-headed... maybe you should drive..."

And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge video tapes with wings, all swooping and screeching and diving around the cabin of the lorry, which was going a hundred miles an hour, with the windows down towards St Andrews.

And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"

Curses ran across my mind and down the back of my spine. I shouldn't have swallowed that bat soup in Dundee.

It's hard not to fixate on the origin of a virus once you feel it take over your body. So how did we get into this mess?

Most likely, it had all started when we'd stopped, at the behest of our press agent Raoul Duke, at a famous diner called The Horn. More to enjoy some casual innuendo than anything else.

The restaurant building looked like a giant Cow Pie that Desperate Dan had just plopped on the side of the road. Most enticing.

The owners are renowned for serving artery-busting butties with 14 different types of bacon. The wickedly morbid kind of threat to public safety, that might be criminalised any moment by Nicola Sturgeon.

So get it while you can! This has fast become the motto of the mission. Dripping with grease and washed down with lashings of burnt-biscuit brown breakfast tea. The sarnies filled the bellies of my crew and if it allowed us to lift 20,000 VHS tapes, then it would prove a lesser evil.

The crew was made up of the kind of band of misfits only usually found in a John Hughes movie. First there was my attorney, a long-haired hippy named Fozzie Bear, so called because of a preponderance to utter 'Waka Waka' every time he made a strident point, or exerted himself physically.

This was bound to get tiresome during the moving of Tape Mountain. But we shall endure.

Then there was Big Licks Molloy, a statuesque filmmaker who had suffered the dubious task of documenting our mammoth haul.

Lastly, bringing up the rear we had Sgt Rickets, who got his name due simply to the fact that he had looked sick for as long as anybody could remember.

Raoul Duke, the former Doctor of Journalism, had sent word of our mission to save thousands of tapes from landfill, via a press release, to the world's media, who, lacking another decent story, had decided to feature our adventures on every news bulletin that morning.

The Press had beaten us to it. As we arrived at the three industrial units which housed this bizarre collection of film, the place was swarming with members of Her Majesty's Fourth Estate.

There was a circle of vans with satellite dishes and big eyes wielding cameras, just waiting to snatch a frame of the weary weirdos who'd schlepped to the City of Discovery - just to save an unwanted pile of plastic from being dropped into a big hole in the countryside.

I stepped out of the cabin of the truck to be confronted by the sight of a tall serious looking badger in a pinstripe suit, standing next to a lizard carrying a boom mic.

Immediately I leapt back into the cabin and stared past my blood-shot eyeballs, beyond the light blue and yellow speckled iris and into the black void seeking answers.

Tapping unknown resources, I stepped out and gave them what I thought they wanted. So four hours later, they packed up and moved on to spin the yarn. While we tackled the heavy lifting and prepared to hit the road.

At the sight of the press pack, Sgt Rickets had proceeded to smoke himself into a catatonic stupor using a Dragon Ball Z bubble bath bottle, which was probably for the best, given the long and winding road ahead of us.

Nobody wants to hear that you're coming down with the dreaded lurgy. Not with a heavy load, that must be transported 600 miles across international borders, back to Liverpool.

Has my sense of taste and smell vanished? The frog in my throat won't tell me. Still, losing my sense of smell ain't so bad, especially with the smells emanating from Sgt Ricketts.

And the flies... feed the frog! Make the most of a bad situation I thought.

Just at that mental moment of triumph, a trio of Mini Coopers blazed a trail round the bend, weaving across both narrow lanes... and it was all I could do to pull the wheel and avoid a head on collision.

As our lorry jack-knifed through the reservation barriers and our precious cargo of films dangled over the precipice of oblivion.

Was all to be lost? There was only one thing we could do. I cleared my throat and summoned the courage to try and salvage the situation.

'Hang on a minute lads. Pass the paracetamol, I've got a great idea...'


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