Gareloch Dinner 19th November

The Annual Gareloch Dinner took place on Saturday 19th November.

After a Prosecco reception and five course dinner we had a report from the Convenor, Peter Proctor, followed by a review of the year from our Secretary, Charles Darley.

The Guest speaker was Eric Thompson MBE who, in toasting the Garelochs, regaled us with memories of his encounters with the class and gave us an excellent parody of Garelochs in the style of Tam O’Shanter

Here are Eric’s words, at one point in the speech we saw an excellent slideshow of the 90th sail past:

When your Convenor invited me to speak tonight, I thought immediately of the old sea shanty: ‘What can I say to the Gareloch sailors … early in the evening?’

As I have had the privilege of only a limited association with the Garelochs, there is nothing I can tell you about the Gareloch Class that you don’t already know; so I thought I would take for my text tonight, the immortal words of the Robert Burns:

‘Would some pow’r the giftie gie us
‘To see ourselves as others see us.’

And I would like to give five examples of how I see you.

The first is the 90th Anniversary Sail Past when I escorted our local MP, Alan Reid, to the mother ship to take the salute.
Sail Past to the tune of ‘Conquest of Paradise’ by the massed pipes and drums of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The second is that on my first visit to the Club, Charles Darley greeted me with the immortal advice that: ‘the two most useless things in a yacht are an umbrella and a Naval Officer.’ As I was about to crew for Peter Proctor who was in the Navy with me, I was left wondering whether two naval Officers would fare better than one with an umbrella?

My third experience was when Peter very kindly took Madame Dany Lasbleis and me for a sail in Thalia in Force 5, gusting 6. Now, as Peter and I have known each other for fifty years, we naturally fell into the procedure for a Naval Officer’s discussion; namely, statement followed by counter-statement followed by personal abuse. And there we were, scudding along on a starboard tack towards Clynder, lee-gunwhale-under, vehemently disagreeing over some finer point of Scottish politics. I was actually quite concerned that Peter was not considering easing sheets but I was damned if I was going let him know that I was worried by the amount of green water we were shipping.
The most amazing thing was that Dany, who had never set foot in a yacht before, was an entirely unfazed by the fact we were heeling over at 45 degrees and shipping water.
So, when we got back to the clubhouse, I said to her that I was most impressed by the way she taken her first exhilarating sail in her stride.
‘Oh,’ she replied, ‘I knew everything was OK because you and Peter were talking politics.’

My fourth experience was when Peter invited me to crew for him on the Schlei at your bi-annual regatta with the German Classic Boat Association. There, I discovered that the Germans had kindly provided us with double bed accommodation. That was all right for Peter who was to share his bed with Roger Kinns – and a lovely couple they made – but I had to share my bed with an unknown German who had not yet arrived when I turned in.
Now I had never before shared a bed with a man let alone an unknown German; so I clung like a limpet to the edge of my side of the bed, couldn’t sleep a wink, and played possum. Some hours later, I heard footsteps coming into my room, the unfamiliar noise of a man undressing only a few feet away and then the bed sag as he climbed in beside me.
It was the most scarey experience of my life and I didn’t sleep a wink.
The following morning, I discovered that my German sleeping partner was called Jens Sutter and that he was on our side.
So, thank you Miriam for two thrilling nights with your husband. He was very good in bed.

My fifth example concerns the shocking behaviour of your Convenor, Mr Peter Proctor, the tale of whom I should like to tell in the style of Tam O’Shanter.

(with gratefu’ thanks to Robert Burns)

When racing days are wearing late
And yachtsmen at the mooring wait.
As victors furl their sails sublime
And Darley hoists his protest sign.
As dinghies tak their skippers off
And drouthy sailors quit the loch,
They think not on the long Scots miles,
Of traffic jams and taxi files
That lie between them and their hame,
Where lurks their sullen sulky dame.
Gathering her brows like gathering storm
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

These thoughts struck honest Peter Proctor
Whose wife declared his conduct shocked her.
O Peter! Hadst thou been sae wise
As ta’en your guid wife’s sound advice.
She warned thee well thou were a chancer
A bletherin’, blusterin, drunken dancer
That frae November till October,
On racing days thou wisnae sober.
Even after kirk on Sunday,
Thou drank wi’ Mucklow thro till Monday.
Ah, gentle dames! It gars me greet,
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen’d, sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!

But to our tale:
Ae Saturday, Peter Proctor couldnae sail
For, aye at Thalia’s call and beck,
He’d tried to stand upon her deck
But slipped and fell wi’ muckle clatter
And, in a flash, was in the watter.
There, he flapped his human flipper,
A gasping, gurgling, drowning kipper.
Until, like sergeant-major, roared:
‘Man Overboard! Man overboard!’
His cry was heard inside the cuddy
Where lurked his trusty sailing buddy,
The imperturbable Roger Kinns
Quietly knocking back the gins,
But despite such alcoholic sins,
Was still quite steady on his pins.
Kinns loved Proctor like a brother.
– They’d been fu’ for weeks thegither.
Responding to the desperate cry
Roger heaved the lifebelt high
And watched it land out on the Clyde
But not on Peter Proctor’s side.

Now, the Gareloch tide is awfie strong.
It swept poor Proctor fast along.
There was no way of stopping it,
Until it dumped him on Rhu Spit.
There, he crawled up through the weed
Gratefu’ that he wisnae deid,
And, though his feet began tae tingle,
He hirpled bravely o’er the shingle.
Then, through Gareloch’s evening haze
He saw a building all ablaze.
Proctor stopped tae have a pewk
Then staggered ow’r tae tak a look.
Through bleary eyes still stung wi’ sea
He saw the RNCYC.
From every window poured out light,
And inside, sic an awesome sight.
An orgy truly Bachanalian,
Conducted by a loud Australian.
Warlocks and witches in a dance,
Smoking stuff brought new frae France.
The Gareloch crews in frenzied frolic,
All bleary-eyed and alcoholic.
Hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
The Maclarens jived completely frantic.
(They’d just arrived from mid-Atlantic).
In window-corner to the east,
Charles Darley lurked in shape o’ beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge.
He screw’d the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl.
On a table danced Jens Sutter
Slappin’ thighs like German nutter,
Whilst underneath the kilt he’d chosen,
He wore his wee short lederhosen.

As Proctor glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious;
As Darley loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew,
They reel’d; they rocked; they rolled; they shook it,
Till a’ their clothes wi’ sweat were drookit.
High on the bar sat auld John Blackie
Wi’ curly wig and whacky-baccy.
Beside him, Jo and Michael Knox
Were quoiffin’ whisky on the rocks.
The MacGillivrays sat playing poker
With Reay Mackay who played his joker.
Fenella Rankin, out o’ cash,
Gie’d a crack on her whiplash
And cornered poor Tim Henderson,
To ask if he could lend her some.
Graham Walker took an ice axe,
Swung it wild at Margaret Isaacs
But missed his mark and struck Jon Reid,
The axe being buried in his heid.
Fraser Noble with a lanyard,
Tried to hang poor Eric Boinard.
‘Help, murder, get the Polis,’
Roared the cheering, yob-like chorus.

Then, out the door into the galley
Appeared a wondrous corps de ballet
Kicking high like Paris can-can,
Higher far than any man can.
Greek Godesses in a line,
Bodies utterly divine,
But, as the nymphs came into view,
None was less than ninety-two.
Ancient, wooden, prancing beauties,
Yet still the yacht club’s favourite cuties,
Bodies all rubbed down and varnished
Brasswork just a wee bit tarnished.
Luna, Zephyrus and Thea
Linking arms wi’ Galatea,
Hermes, Circe, and Dione
Iris, Zoe, Halcyone
Juno, Ceres and, inter alia,
The highest kicks from smiling Thalia.
Behind her, coat all glossed and sheeny,
Came the deity Athene.
And wi’ signs o’ weed still on her
Came the lovely Catriona.
But then, as if for luck,
Waddled in a common duck.
Nae fancy name gie’d her appeal.
She was simply known as Teal.

Proctor’s eyes were out on stalks
Tae see such goddesses in frocks.
Kings may be blest, but he was glorious,
O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious!
But what came on as cabaret
Almost blew his brains away.
A nubile wench, clad in Helly Hansen,
Appeared as if on Strictly Come Dancin’.
Across the floor she glided sweetly,
Casting off her harness neatly,
Then pranced about in yellow wellies,
Twin spinnakers like wobbling jellies,
And, with seduction in her eyes
Cast her oilskins to the skies
Then birled her way all round the flair,
In her polar underwear.

Proctor’s nostrils flared and twitched.
This spectre had the man bewitched.
But, pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white then melts for ever.
He stared in alcoholic trance,
Desperate now to join the dance,
To seize the dancing mermaid tight
And drag her off into the night.
He roared out loud: ‘I’ll have you later!’
Then saw it was the Procurator.
Alas, poor Proctor didnae know,
This siren wench was Carol Rowe!

In an instant all was dark.
The Club was stunned by his remark,
And scarcely had his senses rallied
When forth the Procurator sallied.
Screaming out to catch the pester
Who had threatened to molest her.
Along the spit he ran like fury,
Afraid that he would face a jury
With Carol Rowe as prosecutor,
(He knew a legal fee would suit her).
Hard on his heels she sprinted gaily.
(She did her exercises daily).

Into the loch our Proctor plunged.
Behind, the Procurator lunged.
Across the loch and back again
Up pier Road and down Rhu Glen.
Through the kirk yard, past the Inn
In deadly race he had tae win.
He had no hope of gaining solace
The chase was now joined by the polis.
As rain did lash and wind did blaw
He felt the long arm of the law
Reaching out to grab his collar.
(How he wished he’d been born taller).
Off his heaving, sweaty backit
It ripped away his sailing jacket.
They had the evidence of guilt.
And he was in it to the hilt.
But then he reached the lane of Spy
Up which lay his alibi.
His good wife Francoise would declare
That he had been at home wi’ her.
Helping her wi’ a’ the chores,
Ironing shirts and scrubbing floors,
Doing exaclty as she bid;
Everything she asked, he did.

Tumbling ower a Council bin,
He fell and made a hellish din
Which terrified his faithful spouse
Sitting, waiting, in the house.
Fearing for her very life,
She armed herself wi’ kitchen knife
And threw the front door open wide
But wouldnae let him come inside.
Her face, all grim wi’ Gallic menace,
Showed her husband’s crime was heinous.
Her life, already ruined by Brexit;
She had to act before he wrecks it.
She screamed out: ‘You are drunk again!
‘You and a’ they yachting men.
‘I warned thee no tae drink wi’ Kinns!’
(With that she kicked him in the shins).
‘What on earth is a’ this racket?
‘And where the hell’s your sailing jacket?’
The Procurator then arrived
And Proctor’s freedom was denied.
A policeman read a formal warning
That he’d be in the Court next morning.
In handcuffs he was led away.
The Sherriff now would have his say.
So, by this tale it is attested,
That Peter Proctor was arrested.

Now wha this Gareloch yarn shall read
Each man and mother’s son tak heed.
If sailing yachts runs through your mind
And to drink you are inclined,
Think, you may just be a Wally.
Remember Peter Proctor’s folly.

I should like to finish as I began, with a song which you can all join in.

A Gareloch for me. A Gareloch for me.
If you’re no a Gareloch, you’re nae use to me.
The Pipers are braw. The Sonars and ‘a
But the cocky wee Gareloch’s the Pride o’ them ‘a.

‘The Garelochs’

(Reproduced with kind permission of Eric Thompson MBE)