Excerpt taken from chapter 17, The Wee Wee Waterfall – Tobermory in the second book of the Zander Trilogy by Johnny Jones – More Ports More Storms. On sale now.
Topographically, a significant part of Tobermory lies on the high ground above the harbour and it is there that the Western Isles Hotel occupies a prominent site. The hotel’s position allows its guests to enjoy magnificent panoramic views from Tobermory down the Sound of Mull. Access to the hotel is via the Back Brae, a road that doubles back on itself up a steep hill. To landward, the road cuts into the side of the hill, while a concrete retaining wall hold its seaward edge in place.
The rain came on just as the Emeraldeers got into the dinghy for the short trip to the pier. On their way ashore, the rain got heavier and heavier so, as soon as the dinghy bumped against the stone jetty Zander, Grunt and Gilbert jumped out and made a dash for the pub, leaving Murdo to tie it up.
The Mish Nish bar is a popular haunt of the sailing fraternity, tourists and locals and is usually crammed full to the doors. Nevertheless, both crews managed to fight their way to the counter for a drink or two before going on for dinner. When they got to the pub, it had been broad daylight and raining heavily, but when the combined crews left to go to the hotel, it was dark and no longer raining.
In spite of his outward show of camaraderie, Grunt was still smarting from the goonie-hoisting prank and when he saw the Big Brae’s almost vertical retaining wall up ahead of him, an idea came in to his head, of how he could get back at his messmates.
When the Emeraldeers got to the foot of the five or six metre high retaining wall, Grunt issued a challenge.
“It’s a long way round by road, what about a race up the wall?”
His shipmates, their faculties somewhat diminished by alcohol, took a look at the wall and stupidly allowing pride or bravado, call it what you like, to take over from common sense and reality; chorused,
Grunt then drew his victims further into his trap. “I reckon I can even give you a ten second start and still beat you to the top.” and was assured they were trapped when Zander said,
“You wait there, and remember no cheating! Don’t you start until you have counted slowly to ten.
“OK, off you go then,” said Grunt to his messmates, who had already started up the wall.
The Twins and their crew, wanting no part in this, carried on walking up the road towards the hotel.
Grunt however stood looking up, waiting.
When the climbers reached a height where jumping down would present a problem, Grunt took off and sprinted up and round the road, ignoring the “chicken” shouts directed at him by the climbers.
By the time he got to a point directly above the climbers, he had caught up with the Twins and the others, who were leaning over watching the climbers’ progress. Grunt stood alongside them, unzipped his flies, and shouting, “You know what this is for!” released a cascade to rival the flow of the Mare’s Tail waterfall (a natural feature that plummets down into Tobermory Bay).
That single hose piddling down from the top of the wall became five, as his former Merryman messmates entered into the spirit of things by contributing to the flow. After all, he had been one of them, even if for a short time. In the spirit of inter-crew rivalry, there was no way that they were going to let this opportunity pass without some input/pissing.
The five streams were not aimed directly at the climbers but onto the surface of the wall, a metre or down so from the top where, as their waters spread out, they relentlessly headed down, towards an immobile Zander, Gilbert and Murdo.
With eyes sticking out like church coat hooks, the three climbers took stock of their situation and their instinct for self-preservation kicked in! To the cheers of the group at the top of the wall, they scrambled back down the way they had come.
A few bumps and scrapes later, the would-be alpinists ended up in a tangled heap at the foot of the wall.
While they were sorting themselves out, they heard the triumphant catcalls coming from above suddenly change to howls of anguish. When they looked up, they saw another deluge of water, considerably greater than the one before, pouring straight down towards them. This time they had the time and space to get clear.
However, none of the sprinklers above – intent only on doing what they were doing and laughing at the results – had noticed that on the road behind them was a big deep hole full of surface water. And, although they did hear the sound of a car coming, they were too busy enjoying themselves to appreciate just how vulnerable they were. Too late! A wave of dirty, cold water swept up and over them.
Meanwhile the trio at the foot of the wall, looking up to see what had caused the second shower, saw that a car heading for the hotel, had passed behind their erstwhile tormentors, now all standing in open-mouthed shock, gasping for breath and soaked to the skin.
Grunt’s petard had been well and truly hoist – again!!