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One Night in Scotland

Before It All Went Pear-Shaped

I never tell stories out of school. Ever. But this one happened so long ago that the participants can comfortably blame it all on youth and ol’ demon alcohol. It was one of the funniest stories ever brought back Stateside by this group – well, it was funny for us.

After a long day of golf in Scotland’s East Lothian, our group decided to dine at a respectable restaurant rather than eat off of crumpled newspapers from the local chippie that we frequented all week. None of us were keen for a formal evening out but we needed food that wasn’t covered in batter. So - we scrubbed behind our ears, put on clean underwear (this will become important later), donned our regulation blue jackets and attempted to look like civilized, private club members as we made our way to the Waterside Restaurant in Haddington. It may not have been our best choice during the week but we would make a substantially worse one later that evening.

By the time we arrived at the restaurant, bounteous amounts of alcohol had already been consumed. Dinner was loud. Supersonic loud. It was so boisterous that we ended up buying dinner for two tables of two that were abutting us. Damn us Americans, we are such bad tourists. After dinner (the below photo) we went outside to take our much needed after dinner drinks.

Directly behind the wall and us is the Tyne River and it was the subject of our post-dinner conversation.

The Waterside Restaurant

Through a clouded whisky brain, one of us opined that the Tyne is not a very wide river as it winds its way through East Lothian. “True enough,” said another.

And with that the discussion corkscrewed to another tangent altogether. “Perhaps one could easily swim across it without much effort,” one of us temptingly exhorted.

“In fact,” someone else said, “wouldn’t it be great to have a race across the river?”


My friend Murph, the left-most bookend in the above photo, is generally game for just about anything. My other friend Dan, second from right and next to me, volunteered to race across provided that there was a purse. After cobbling together a ludicrous sum for a swim race, the boys were stripping off clothes down to their clean – soon to become dirty and in one case, non-existent – underwear.

It was a sight to behold and all of a sudden, we had race. And an audience.

At the count of three, Dan and Murph hurdled the wall and ran down to the riverside, each with a different drink-infused strategy. Murph dove straight away into the six-inch deep water nearly killing himself while Dan ran “through” the river complete to the other side. Murph realized the water’s depth after kissing river bottom and ultimately pushed on in the same way as Dan but it was too late. Danno had won.

Now they were on the other side of the Tyne, Dan in his underwear, Murph denuded by the Tyne, with an unplanned dilemma – how to get back. Their choices were to either swim/run back across the river or walk over the Nungate Bridge where a crowd had gathered to watch the nonsense.

Meanwhile safely dry on the sane side of the Tyne, the rest of our band of brothers were finishing our ports, buckling over in laughter as Dan & Murph walked back over the Nungate through an adoring yet bewildered crowd.

We don’t do silly things like that anymore. As far as you know.

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