Simmer Dim Rally
6th Simmer Dim Rally 14th June 1987
- Phil the Spill
MONDAY: I cannot remember the exact route I took from the Drunken Dragon to meet up with the rest of my club (ABC) at the Kinross services, but meet up with them I did, and we spent the evening in one of the pubs in the village, as was our custom.
The ferry doesn't leave until Wednesday evening, so we usually camp somewhere near Aberdeen on the TUESDAY night, so as to arrive at the Ferry Terminal in some semblance of order at a reasonable time. This year, one of our members had a brother who worked on the oilrigs and who lived on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Better still, he was away at work, and was allowing us to crash at his house! (At least, that's what we were told!) I am not sure what the neighbours made of half-a-dozen bikes in various states of repair, (yes, Hinckley, I mean you!), rolling up to his driveway, but we didn't hear of any complaints, so we must have been quiet enough. Always assuming that his neighbours weren't also away at work in the middle of the North Sea.
WEDNESDAY: Funnily enough, we did manage to arrive at the harbour in more-or-less one piece at a fairly early hour, which meant we could nab the best seats in the pub. At the appropriate times during the day, boarding cards were obtained, those who required cabins sorted them out, bikes were loaded and, finally, personnel were also herded on board. Several people, (to be honest, most of them seemed to be from my club), started messing around with the boat's structure like it was a playground climbing frame, before settling down in the bar for the beer, erm, I mean music. A group of people sat outside the main bar shouting "No Sheep 'til Vidlin!", (this was the year of the VW-bothering rap group "The Beastie Boys" and their subtly altered popular record seemed quite apt), over and over again until they fell over some time in the morning.
THURSDAY: Unfortunately some of the bikes down below had also fallen over some time in the morning, due to a bit of weather during the night, combined with some possibly insufficient rope work. Mattresses had been placed between some of the bikes, so damage was minimal. I have to admit that my bike luckily gets put in the main bunch, which is far more densely packed, so I have never had this happen to mine.
At the site, surprisingly, the marquee was already up, (they usually need our help to raise and lower the thing), although the barbecue shelter was a bit feeble and in need of rescue. To sort out who was feeble and in need of rescue amongst us, the Boot Party commenced. For further information on this event, see reports from other years, or just look at the photos. Suffice it to say that a somewhat reduced number of people enjoyed the barbecue and the music in the marquee in the evening, (at some point I seem to have fallen asleep, as there is a photo of me looking rather relaxed), although the number increased by the time we relocated into the Village Hall for the rest of the night and into the morning. A couple of members of the Twits MCC raised a few points of conversation, which were examined from various viewpoints.
FRIDAY is the day of the ride-out to A Pub Of Local Interest, and this year we went to the Hotel bar next to the Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof, whose name was suggested by Robert Louis Stevenson in a story he wrote based in the area, so it's unlikely the inhabitants called it that. It's also unlikely that they would have approved of the modern-day neighbours either; the Island's main airport.
Arriving via plane that day was Rich King, of BSH Magazine, although he didn't fully engage with the rest of us oiks. He took a few photos, (one contained several of my club's bikes, including Spike's Café Racer), and scribbled a few words on the rally, most of which were an alternate view of events, tailored to his publication's readership.
Back to the site, and we were in the hall, which was warmer than the marquee, which may explain why a few people felt so hot they just had to take their clothes off. I can't think of any other reason for this behaviour. The rest of the night was filled with drinking, dancing and debauchery. There was a guy tied to a lamppost outside the hall, who looked like he had taken a beating, but closer inspection revealed it was only ketchup from the burger van.
SATURDAY and those that have made it this far engaged in silly games, including trying to eat a salad while riding a bike around an unfeasibly bumpy field. Outfits were frowned upon for this event. Partway through this the Vikings turned up in search of free beer. They found enough to feel like assisting us in the games and instructing us in the finer points of Shetland Folk Dancing, which we tried to perform to music provided by the group which turned up for just this sort of eventuality, (assisted by some of my club who brought their instruments with them).
Later on, coaches took us into the capital, Lerwick, for the Mid Summer carnival, where the Vikings led the parade through the streets, and the whole population drink themselves into insensibility. Strangely, the rallyists manage to resist the temptation of too much drink in the town, as the beer back at the site is pre-paid, and the coaches took us back there around midnight, for a few more hours of partying.
SUNDAY: It usually takes a while to pack up your tent after only a couple of hours (if any) sleep, but this year the wind was not hindering us as much as it usually did. After that there was the prize giving lunch, which is usually some corned beef and mash, with a pile of green stuff which might be mushy peas, but I have never dared examining it too closely. My club won a handful of awards, which was nice. This, although it was the day we started on our way home, didn't completely stop the alcohol intake, although it was drastically reduced until we were safely installed at the ferry terminal, or more exactly, the pub across the road from there.
We wandered into the boat at some point and some people collapsed even before the bar opened. The rest of us did the waving at the islanders thing as the boat slipped slowly away from the dock and into the North Sea, which looked surprisingly calm as we left. I can only assume it remained so the rest of the night, as I don't remember much turbulence keeping me awake after the party in the bar.
On MONDAY morning, the boat docked back at Aberdeen and everybody piled out, grouped up and rode off to wherever they were going. Many were probably going home, but my club was going to the Lake District for the week.
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley
Phil's story continues in the Lake District. In the meantime, here is the BSH report by Rich King.
Back Street Heroes, June, 1987
Simmer Dim 1987
"Shetland eh?" I thought for a moment "what the hell, why not." I had been sent an invite to the Islesburgh MCC Simmer Dim rally on the mainland of Shetland. It was to be held in a little village called Vidlin. Knowing nothing about the Islands, I didn't realise how little little meant.
The first problem was getting there, it's as far away from Manchester as most of the major cities of Europe and I had missed the ferry from Scotland. What made things worse was the fact that I had no other means of transport, my Z1000 had lost its front sprocket down the M6 and the last of the test bikes had gone back to London. The answer was obvious but expensive. I was gonna have to fly over.
Contrary to popular belief, the actual flying is the easy bit. The hassle is persuading various people in different uniforms to let you on the damn things in the first place. Despite the problems, Friday evening saw me stagger into Rally Control in Vidlin's community hall. From the little airport to Vidlin, I had a good look at Shetland, there's lots of rock, loads of sea, sheep, dead sheep and not much else. I thought it was great. In small doses.
What the landscape lacks the islanders make up for. While I was there I found them without exception warm, open, generous and friendly. Me and all the other hairy grebs who came across were made to feel really welcome.
Back Street Heroes, June, 1987
At Rally Control, Wilbert and Lesley the rally organisers, sorted out my badge and my book of tickets, which I could trade in for food and booze (a clever idea which practically made money useless except for extras). I grabbed a couple of beers and a bit of grub and then took a look round the site. On the agenda for that evening was a Rock band, the wet Y-front competition, the wet T-shirt and a disco.
The Rock band were fine until a couple of local girls got on stage and joined in, then the band was great, those girls could sing. After a selection of Rock classics they broke into a medley of Motown hits from the sixties that went down a storm with the rallyists who cavorted and bellowed until it was time for the competitions. The wet Y-front competition sounded like good fun, but I took a couple of snaps and retired to the bar to await the wet T-Shirt competition, which is more my cuppa tea.
Five girls eventually got up on stage, but the compare took too much time trying to get more entrants up, that the ones already there got the jitters and made a run for it before they even got damp. Sensing the obvious disappointment of the expectant onlookers, a kind hearted girlie jumped up on stage and sexily bared her all to the delight of the audience (and me). Deservedly, she walked away with the title of Miss dry T-shirt '87.
June in Shetland means it never gets dark at night, it gets twilight around midnight and by three its day again. I left the rallyists still partying at about four on Saturday morning and by the time I reared my ugly head some time that afternoon they hadn't stopped.
It was silly games time and fairly soon the ranks had been swelled by the Viking Squad (local men who fight tooth and nail for the honour of dressing up, complete with horns and axes and representing the Islands in the two-week-long Up Helly Aa celebrations in Winter). Within the hour, the Vikings were as drunk as the rallyists and proceeded to join in the games. One game I was unfamiliar with was the "Shyters" machine; a contraption brought to the Rally a couple of years previously by a group of German bikers. Basically the Shyters machine is a stein of beer, which is wired to a car battery and a bell. Out of the top of the Stein come several plastic tubes, which are attached to copper tubes within the glass. The idea is for your team to suck the beer through the tubes until the Ale is gone, at that point the bell rings, and the time is recorded. Needless to say the Germans won (around 3½ seconds I think), closely followed by the Shetlanders. Just in case you were wondering, the "shyters" bit comes from the fact that after a couple of goes, you and the team are "Fooking shyters mon".
As a diversion from the games a local folk band were playing in the hall, "oh no!" you may groan. But oh yes, and they were excellent, real go ape shit and fall over music. After the pathetic (and hilarious) attempts by the English at folk dancing, the Shetlanders showed us how it was done. Bikers, Vikings and Vidlin locals wheeled and spun in complex wild dances, while the other rallyists clapped along, grinning in admiration and cheering them on.
I had already noticed how the islanders seemed to welcome rather than despise the presence of the bikers on their soil, unlike other rallies I've been to and this was reinforced that Saturday evening, when all the rallyists were invited to the Solstice disco, at Fort Charlotte in Lerwick. Within the castle walls an open-air party was in progress. Most of the youngsters from the Isles seemed to be there, drinking, dancing and fighting, to the complete indifference of both the Policemen, who seemed more engrossed in smiling and chatting to anyone interested. Though it wasn't as if the brawling was in any way dangerous, I saw nothing worse than a few bloody noses. Eventually, in dribs and drabs, the bikers drifted back to the buses laid on by the Islesburgh club, for the twenty-odd mile trip back to Vidlin. I caught the last bus and we turned up at the site around half one on Sunday morning. Naively, I expected to get some kip, but as we passed the hall it was in full swing. Doing my journalistic duty, I wearily trudged into the cacophony and took a few more pictures. "Fae fooks sake mon..." said a drunken voice "put away yon kaymra an' get shyters willye!" So I did. Very. I eventually crawled into my pit around about five am.
After stirring from my slumber sometime Sunday afternoon, I took a stroll over the green lumpy bits of Vidlin. The Rally was effectively over, most of the rallyists had left to wait for the ferry back to Scotland and the Islesburgh MCC were clearing up the site. There wasn't much left to do, but I cleared my conscience by helping a girl wash down a couple of tables. I then saw off the club, who were riding over to Lerwick "Tae see yon ferry away".
I spent the rest of Sunday communing with nature, man, and left the islands some time on Monday.
All that I can say is that it was brilliant. The locals were open, welcoming and drunk, the rallyists were much the same and the Islesburgh MCC were organised, efficient as well as open, welcoming and drunk. To Wilbert, Lesley, Davy, Christobel, Stanley and everyone else in the club, thanks for inviting me and if I can find the time, I'll be there again, that's for sure.