www.thesummercrew.co.uk
Tales from the salmon netting on the River Spey in the north east of Scotland

4. The Rave at Rothes

March 15th, 2008 by John Bennett
 
 4. The Rave at Rothes: Play Now

When Sandy Geddes, the skipper of the summer crew, arrived for the Tuesday of the early shift he found the bothy in uproar. Black Alec was swearing and cursing with even greater vigour than was usual and for once even the Puddock seemed animated.
“What on earth is going on?” asked Sandy, standing at the doorway, surveying the commotion.
“Mo Johnston’s gan te Rangers,” said Jake holding up the front page of his newspaper.
“It’s a disgrace,” cried Black Alec, a Rangers fan, “he’s a Catholic.”
“He’s a Judas,” said the Puddock, a Celtic fan, “he’s nithing but a Judas.”
As the two salmon fishers expressed their indignation at the signing, Robbie leant over to Gonzo.
“Could ye jist sign this wee bitty paper, please,” said Robbie, offering him a well-chewed bookie’s pen and a grubby old airmail envelope.
“Sorry,” said Gonzo, looking at Robbie, “why do want my signature?”
“Och, nae reason, I jist like te collect the signatures o abdy fa works on the salmon fishing,” replied Robbie. Gonzo looked sceptical.
“He should be banned fae Scottish football,” said the Puddock.
“Come on, jist sign it,” said Robbie, thrusting the envelope at Gonzo.
“Then he should be castrated and hung up on Glesga Green,” said Black Alec.
“I kaen why he’s needin yer signature,” said Jake to Gonzo, “he’s needin te kaen fa painted ‘The Shaggin Wagon’ on the wings o his car in thon fluorescent paint. He wants te compare the handwriting.”
“That’s nae true,” said Robbie vehemently, “I jist want te get a record o a the boys’ signatures. You kaen hoo I appreciate guid handwriting.”
“You don’t think it was me that wrote on your car, do you?” asked Gonzo, seemingly genuinely surprised by the implication.
“Aye, if ye mist kaen, actually I do, I mean, fa else wid dee it?”
“Castration is too good for the likes o him,” said the Puddock.
“I agree, he should be shot,” said Black Alec.
“I was under the impression you did it yourself,” said Gonzo to Robbie.
“Fit,” said Robbie incredulously, “why on earth would I paint that on ma ain car?”
“Well, you’re over forty and you’re not married, you want to attract a mate…”
“I’m nae married because I nivir met the richt woman…”
“That’s it, I’ve hid enough,” said Black Alec jumping to his feet and pushing his way past Robbie and out of the bothy where he produced a cigarette lighter from his pocket and proceeded to set fire to the Rangers scarf he often wore on the night shift. As the flames took hold of the cheap synthetic material the Puddock joined him, setting light to the picture of Mo Johnston he’d ripped from the paper: the supporters of the two deadly footballing rivals united as never before in the face of a common enemy. Sandy, however, was deeply unsettled by the potentially divisive cocktail of sectarian and sexual politics swirling round the bothy and decided that the only way to dampen the enflamed tempers of the summer crew was to tire them out, so, despite the fact that he hadn’t had his usual morning brew or buttery roll, he took them straight out on the first of what proved to be a record number of shots in a day. By the lunch break, after taking them all the way down to the mouth and making them haul back up again twice, they were worn out, apart from Robbie, who after raking around in the council bin up by the viaduct retrieved the pot of fluorescent paint.
“Och no Robbie, nae the fluorescent paint again, it’s created o’er muckle trouble aridy,” said Sandy, despairing.
“No dinna worry Sandy, I’m nae up te mischief, it’s jist that the gloss disna tak oer the fluorescent paint and there’s nae wy I can afford a respray.”
“So fit are ye deein?”
“I’m jist gan oer the writing wi mair fluorescent paint, te mak a big stripe, kaen. It’ll be better than haeing that written on the car. I mean, I canna go onyway at night since the students wrote ‘The Shaggin Wagon’ on the side o it.”
“Will folk nae think yer the jam sandwich ?” asked Jake.
“Do the police drive Sikodas?” asked Gonzo who had been lingering in earshot. The usually sanguine Sandy hit the roof.
“Right that’s it. If there’s ony mair of this nonsense wi Sikodas, Maurice Johnston or fluorescent paint, then you’ll leave me nae option but to gan te the Gaffer.” Even Robbie, who had worked with Sandy for some twenty five years had never seen him so angry and that afternoon Gonzo and the Stingman were made to clean the boat, redd up the netbox and load the fish as well as shooting it down to the mouth and hauling it back up again with the rest of the crew.

***

A couple of days later Sandy’s harsh regime combined with a strong grilse run had not only seen the tempers of the summer crew die down, but had also seen them start to catch up with the total number of fish caught by the permanent crew. And Sandy, seeing an opportunity as the fish were still running strong, managed to get the Gaffer to agree to a Saturday shift. However, the summer crew, shattered from their exertions, were looking forward to their weekend. In particular the Puddock who had arranged to go up to Rothes on Friday night.
“Come on Robbie, I nivir hid onything te dee with the writin on yer car,” pleaded the Puddock. Robbie looked unconvinced.
“Come on Robbie, I’m only needin a lift up te Rothes.”
“Fit are ye deein in Rothes?”
“There’s a rave up there the night.”
“A roup?”
“No, nae a roup, a rave.”
“And fit’s that then?” asked Robbie.
“It’s like a dance in a field, wi electronic techno music,” explained the Puddock.
“Dancing in a park?” said Jake who had been listening to the conversation, “in my day we used to gan te the dances at the hotel up at the Craig. Ye’d drink a hauf bottle ootside and if ye didna get a trap, ye’d be guaranteed a fecht. I hid some cracking fechts up there…” said Jake, a glint of nostalgia in his eye.
“Naebody fechts at the raves, abdy’s on Ecstacy…” said the Puddock.
“Dis that nae send you loop the loop?” asked Jake who had recently read an article on the rave scene in the paper.
The Puddock shrugged and popped another Refresher in his mouth. “Nae really, it’s nae as bad as the drink. Drink’d be made illegal if they tried te introduce it these days.”
“Rave music’s rubbish,” said Gonzo.
“Fit’s rubbish is heavy metal; it’s deid. Yer living in the past.”
“Metal’ll never die,” said Gonzo, emphatically.
“It could be fun though,” suggested the Stingman.
“Ah’m nae takin thon twa in the car, if that’s fit yer thinking,” said Robbie looking at the students.
“We’ll py you,” said the Puddock.

***

The light was fading when Robbie dropped the three younger members of the summer crew at Rothes.
“Mind, I’ll be back at 5.00 am sharp, so we get doon te the fishing for the start at six,” said Robbie.
“Aye, that’s fine,” said the Puddock, looking round the field where a crowd of about three hundred people where gathered round a large sound system and light show.
“If yer nae here I’ll jist turn roon and leave.” Having reassured Robbie, the Puddock disappeared in order to make a connection, while Gonzo and the Stingman wandered round to check out what was going on. Gonzo was not impressed.
“Look at them, they look like idiots,” he said of three young men, stripped to the waist, wearing welding googles and waving Glo-sticks in the air in front of a speaker stack pumping hardcore Dutch gabba into the Morayshire evening air at 180 bpm.
“There’s some good looking women,” observed the Stingman.
“Aye, but they’re only interested in dancing,” replied Gonzo as the Puddock reappeared with one of the organisers of the rave – a young Glaswegian man with neon pink hair.
“Awright man, what ye needin?” he asked, looking around furtively.

***

Robbie’s arrival at Rothes, at quarter to five, caused some consternation among the rave goers, who at first thought, much as Jake had suggested might happen, that the Skoda was a police car. However, once reassured by the Puddock, several of them gathered round the car.
“See that car, that’s absolutely magic,” said the pink haired rave organiser, “it’s magic, man. Look how it’s glowing in the dark. It’s pure brilliant.”
“Aye weel, the less said aboot that the better,” said Robbie glaring at the Stingman.
“No man, I love it man, it’s beautiful. It’s the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen, man.”
“Aye, it is good, like,” agreed Robbie, standing back and admiring his recent purchase.
“How much dae ye want fur it, man?” said the pink haired Glaswegian who was jigging up and down to the beat of the music.
“No, I’m nae selling,” said Robbie instinctively.
“Look, I’ll gie ye 500 notes, right now, man,” said the rave organiser, pulling a large roll of bills from his pocket.
“Well, ah’m nae sure…” said Robbie who had paid £300 for the car only two weeks before.
“Right, £600.”
“Aye but hoo are we g’te get doon tae the fishing?”
“£700, that’s ma final offer.”
“He’ll take it,” said the Stingman hastily, shaking the rave organiser’s hand.
While Robbie counted the money, the Puddock went and called a taxi and the Stingman searched for Gonzo who he eventually found, stripped to the waist, dancing in front of one of the speaker stacks, wearing a pair of welding goggles and waving a Glo-stick in the air.
“The Puddock was right,” shouted Gonzo, “this is the best music in the world.”

***

That morning the summer crew were somewhat more subdued than normal. All apart from Robbie.
“I got £700 for the car, that’s fowr huner pound mair than I paid fur it…and I bargained him richt up, did I?” he said turning to the Stingman.
“You played him like a fiddle,” said the Stingman, who just wanted to catch twenty minutes sleep in between shots.
“That’s right, he wanted to gie me £500, but I bargained him up te £700. It mist huv been like watching Willie McPherson himsel.”

***

The next weekend Gonzo made the trip into Elgin and bought half a dozen 12 inch rave tracks, however, halfway through listening to the second one he realised that his damascene conversion in a field near Rothes might have been a little hasty. As he was heard to comment later.
“The music’s total rubbish unless you’re off your head.”
A week after the rave at Rothes, the pink-haired organiser was stopped on the M8 where the police, upon searching the Sikoda, found a bag containing 50 Ecstasy tablets. He was charged with “possession with intent to supply” and the Skoda was confiscated under the proceeds of crime provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 1988. A couple of months later, in his second Old Firm game Maurice Johnston scored a decisive goal for his new team and sealed his place in the Rangers fans’ affections, causing the notoriously parsimonious Black Alec to sorely regret his decision to burn his scarf and the Puddock to demand that all mention of him be expunged from the Celtic record books. At the end of the summer, just before he went back to university for the new year, Gonzo sold his six rave 12 inches to the Puddock for a third of their face value.

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