*N.B. This article has nothing to do with Skyrim. Sorry.
In the summer of 2008 I spent seven long weeks on the Isle of Skye as part of my field mapping dissertation for university. There were eight of us in total; me and seven of my favourite guys from the course, all battling through endless days of pissing, shitting and masturbating in forests, on hillsides and in lay-bys (N.B. I only peed. I keep the shitting and masturbating for Chat-Roulette). If I’m honest, I learned very little about geology during those long hours of standing in torrential rain getting mentally undressed by sheep whilst trying to write in a wet notebook with a blunt pencil. As time went on, however, I stopped hating and began to realise that this summer, although geologically unsuccessful, was quickly shaping up to be one of the best in history, and it’s all thanks to a tiny village with the most ridiculously beautiful view you will ever see.
Elgol is where my mapping area was located and where three of my uni friends, Beau, Luke and Mike were renting a flat from a local family. At this point we were on week three and I was beginning to get a little bit tired of actually doing work. The fact the sun had made appearance for the first time since we arrived did not help my mood, as all I wanted was a god-damn barbecue. I arrived at their flat ready to map, only to find that they weren’t even home so, after trying on all of their underwear and cleaning the toilet with their toothbrushes, I decided to go look for them. I eventually found them stepping off a fishing boat which had just participated in a random boat race in the middle of the loch. The boat belonged to Alistair, an almost mythical creature, who along with his wonderful wife Joanie, also owned the flat that the guys were staying in. Alistair had been feeding the boys whisky and prawns all morning and I could tell straight away that there would be no mapping for us that day. They got off the boat, handed me a can of Tennants and explained that today was the Elgol Gala and we were getting involved. All I could smell was beer, fishermen and barbecued meat – I was welling up. In fact I was moist pretty much everywhere.
What we didn’t know at the time was that participating in the Gala involved taking part in the Crofter’s Olympics, a Highland Games type competition in which we use our pathetically inadequate city ‘strength’ to compete against teams of Highland locals who actually work for a living. Upon hearing about this, we instantly ran back to the flat to put on our matching ‘Skye 2008’ t-shirts – if we were going to be beaten to a bloody pulp, we were going to do it whilst looking like a stylish team of professionals. We looked totally gay, it was awesome.
The first event was the caber toss. For those of you sillies who don’t know what tossing a caber involves, you basically pick up a tree trunk and try to flip it 180 degrees in the air whilst at the same time ensuring that it lands as straight and as far away from you as possible. So, essentially the opposite of what any of us are capable of. What the guys on my team needed was something like a ‘Shoes & Belt Accessorising’ event or maybe a ‘Who Can Get the Most Girls to Suck them Off Behind the Village Hall’ competition, we would have totally won those. Needless to say, Beau, Luke and Mike all failed miserably, leaving it down to me. Alistair handed me a slightly smaller, but still substantial, lady-caber and I just closed my eyes and threw it. By some miracle, it flipped 180 degrees and landed beautifully on the grass in front of me. A few people congratulated me saying things like “Well done, that’s amazing!” – but we all know that it is not amazing. Being a female who is able to throw a tree across a field is less ‘amazing’ and more ‘I’m gonna rip your wife’s face off with my vagina and there’s fuck all you can do about it’. I’m not proud of what I did and to this day Billy still asks me if I’m absolutely sure I like penises.
Next was the five-legged race. At the start of this race, Alistair bent down and tied all four of our legs together, stood up in front of everyone and said (AS A JOKE) “Fuck’s sake Jillian, you could have washed your fanny, peeyoo”. Nice. I spent the rest of the day telling anyone who would listen how he was just kidding and that, in reality, going ‘down there’ was like getting a refreshing blast of alpine forest to the face. Anyway, after coming a close second, we moved onto the welly-boot throwing competition where Beau inexplicably threw the welly behind him and almost took out a small child.
Finally, it was the dreaded tug-of-war. We were sitting in overall second place when we began this event. We thought that we could take them, that we were going to come away from this whole experience victorious after our first attempt – then we realised that there were four bastarding rounds of it and (in my slightly tipsy head) the members of the first team were staring straight into our souls, salivating all over their giant steel-toe capped boots. I was pretty tired/scared at this point and considering that the opposite team’s captain was called ‘The Butcher’ and their anchor weighed more than Beau, Luke and Mike combined, we didn’t stand much of a chance. Our only hope was to at least beat the team that consisted almost entirely of old ladies – except these old ladies appeared to have been sent to destroy us from the depths of hell. One of them was rolling around on the ground and pulling so hard that she began bleeding profusely from numerous lacerations in her arms. They humiliated us with a crushing defeat and when it was all over we left her bloodied and sweating in a heap on the floor. It’s possible that she was dead. I hope she was dead.
Overall, we finished in third place, which considering the trauma, I was delighted with. We spent the rest of the afternoon up in the village hall drinking beer, eating vulgar amounts of meat and walking around the numerous stalls which sell the inevitable pile of shit you find at every village gala. To give you an idea of what we are dealing with here, I entered a raffle and won a jar of olives, a bottle of men’s shower gel and some orange cordial. Rock and roll.
In the late afternoon we were kicked out of the village hall so that it could be transformed into Elgol’s premier ceilidh venue. Now, I love a ceilidh more than anything in the world (except iced tea) so I was beside myself with excitement and headed home with the rest of the guys to shower and get whored up for a night of drinking, dancing and debauchery. When I realised that this night had the potential to be one of the highlights of the summer/my life, I called Cameron, Iain, Sam and Eoin (who had missed the day’s events because they had actually been mapping – lol) and told them to get a fucking grip and get down here.
I think it’s safe to say word had got around that there was fresh cock in the village because when we arrived back at the hall it was like a scene from 28 Days Later. There were salivating girls in abundance, ready to tear chunks out of anyone who got in the way of them and the scrotums of my poor friends. Luckily for the guys, the wristbands that everyone is given on the door were colour-coded according to age, providing them with a handy visual aid when deciding how best to proceed (the catchphrase of the evening became “GREEN FOR GO, YELLOW MEANS NO, BUT YELLOW CAN MEAN MAYBE IF YOU HAVEN’T GOT ANY ACTION BY 1AM”). At one point I went up for a dance with Cameron, which resulted in a blatant head-case coming charging towards me saying “You trying to steal my man??”, to which I replied “I’ve been living with him and his trench-foot, man-fart, sweaty-balls for the past month. Seriously, you can have him. In fact, if you promise to keep him occupied for the whole night I’ll even throw in a jar of olives, some shower gel and a bottle of orange cordial”. She took the bait, and from the looks of her, probably most of Cameron’s foreskin that night.
At around 3am we managed to make it home, exceptionally fucked but genuinely delighted with the day we just had. It was totally stealth, none of us were prepared for it, and although I woke up the next day feeling like death, it was the most worth-it hangover I’ve ever had. What had begun as a boring old day of mapping had ended in utter chaos and I loved every minute of it. It changed the rest of that trip for me and over the next few weeks we got to know a lot of people in the village: Alistair and Joanie, their kids Craig and Grant, even my once nemesis “The Butcher”, who is now my total fave and not scary at all.
As soon as I got home, I told Billy that he needed to come see it for himself and we have been back every year since along with various combinations of the original seven. I look forward to it more than any other holiday, which considering it is only a four-hour drive from Aberdeen, is borderline unbelievable for me. Over the past four years I have been fishing with Alistair on his boat (where I had to kill things with my tiny, bare hands), I’ve swam in the fairy pools, bottle-fed Joanie’s lambs, walked for miles, drank shed-loads of beer and ate truck-loads of BBQ – but I still have not won the motherfucking Crofter’s Olympics. Sadly, I will be missing it this year due to having to work for a living but I have a feeling that 2013 will be my year so, Butcher, you better be trembling in your yellow wellies because I am coming for you and, this time, I’m bringing my sister. Yeah that’s right, Double Dingwall for the win. 😉