All Fingers and Thumbs

Aberdeen was the Oil Boom city of the UK back in the mid-seventies, I arrived there after a short spell on the construction of the massive Saint Fergus Gas Terminal, situated between Peterhead and Fraserburgh.
Peterhead, better known for its famous prison, which back then, housed some of Scotland’s most dangerous criminals, one or two being friends of mine, but nowadays is better known as a specialist centre for sex offenders, none of them being friends of mine, well, I don’t think so anyway.
Peterhead also was the locale for the Crosse and Blackwell canned food factory, employing up to 4500 workers once.

The Saint Fergus camp was situated in a remote location on the North Sea Coast, having beautiful stretching sand dunes beaches that went for miles, which were famous for surfing and windsailing, although not ideal for a dip or even a paddle.

Every fourth weekend the C & B Factory girls were shipped to the camp disco by bus, in return for a free swally and maybe a quick earner from the toothless navvies, who were primed to explode as a result of the fortnightly appearance of Sexy Betty from Aberdeen, on show in the works canteen.

Fraserburgh, known as the largest shellfish port in Europe, sometimes one would partake of a small refreshment in the harbour hostelries, chatting and laughing and singing along with the local fishwives, who were also fond of a wee aperitif or two themselves. Once, in such gregarious company one Saturday night, whereupon an obstinate lover of one of the girls had refused to go to the bar when he was told, and was duly set about, by being kicked down the stair, out onto the street and told to find a fucking bed elsewhere. When I woke in the morning, in his bed, the smell of fish was far stronger than I had noticed the night before.
I turned up at that house on another two occasions with a half bottle and a fish supper, and it was then that there was signs of the relationship not working out and we parted company.
Pity, I liked Meg
My motto then was Have Trowel Will Travel, so I duly set off on the road with my tool bag and my spirit level, my thumb out, spirits high, heading to Boomtown.
Arriving in Aberdeen with only the price of a pint, I managed to get into digs in Crown Street, where the landlord of the establishment was good enough to take me on trust until I got my first pay. Jobs were plentiful, so it would be not a problem.
I shared a room with Karl, a Shetlander. I soon became acquainted with the Shetland custom, of pissing in the wardrobe whilst in a state of sleepwalking.
There were also two brothers from the Gorbals, who I soon buddied up and was delighted to find out that they drank the same as me, that is, until there was that much lager poured down my throat, that there was a good head of foam just below my tonsil line. The thing to do there was insert ones fingers down ones throat so as to trigger a gagging reaction, duly spew, and carry on with wee goldies.

One night we went to a well-known Aberdeen nightspot, and me and the Gorbals Boys were invited by a pretty blonde to join her and her pretty blonde friend who happen to be with a middle-aged Fat Oily Yank and his middle-aged fat wife. We were to act as if we were old friends, just in case, it got nasty. The FOY, supplied the drinks all night, until it was time to head back to their top class hotel room for some late night games. I couldn’t play as I was puggled but the Gorbals Boys went. They informed me that the highlight of the night was chasing the bare bum Mr and Mrs FOY along with the bare-bum girls , with bathroom towels, around the room and three whacks on the posterior resulted in one being eliminated. Then the last two standing, fought for the honour of choosing what torture to inflict on the loser.
For the record, The Gorbals boys did not go bare bum, only taking part in the chase until the Brian Donlevy made them crumple in a heap. They told me that with pride.

I got work on the new TOTAL Oil Company Headquarters, a big construction contract on the outskirts of Aberdeen. I teamed up with Stirling Brickies, and we were a 4 x 2 squad. They, too had worked on the Saint Fergus site and Mick, went back up every second week to see his lovely girlfriend, whom he really loved, because she had some arse and what a pair of tits.
I could tell he really loved her.
He spoke of Meg often.
I never.
One day, as you do, I battered my index finger with a mash hammer. It responded by turning black and so painful that a carry out had to be sent for. It did no good, I had to go for surgery. This consisted of a curtain ring being held over a bunsen burner, and then, whilst two nurses placed a square piece of board on my arm and sat on it, the surgeon forced the white-hot jaggy end of the curtain ring through the black fingernail, resulting in a fine fountain of blood erupting onto Nurse Boardmans face. It was fucking sore.
A week later I battered my middle finger with a mash hammer, but this time, and with a bigger carry out in place, I would carry out the surgery myself. Back at the digs, in my room, I got a sharp wire and heated it on the gas fire. Karl sat on my arm, threatening to piss himself laughing, which I advised would make a change from the fucking wardrobe. I pushed it in, but the pain was excruciating so I decided to try to go through the top of the finger flesh. A small spurt of blood only appeared, so I went in from the side, whilst biting onto a manky bath towel, that had a pishy whiff coming from it. A bigger spurt that time.
Two hours later, when we were singing No Nay Never, No Nay Never No More, I noticed the pain was subsiding.
Two days later I turned up with a gangrenous middle finger, and thanks to the expert surgical team, I still have that finger today.


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