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The Stovies Incident
Posted: 2 August
The buffet is a small detail in wedding planning that gets sometimes over looked. The emphasis is on the main meal of course, but when everyone's been drinking from the morning through to the time a wedding band usually arrives on the scene, the buffet helps to soak up some of the excess alcohol and acts as a rocket fuel, giving your guests a second wind and allows people to carry on dancing through the night, right to the end.
More importantly than that though, from a wedding band's perspective that's our dinner! Most wedding bands travel around. Some stick to only a certain geographical niche, while others, like ourselves, travel all over the country to bring our little touch of Splendidness to the further afield lands. Unless you live north of Inverness. That distant land unfortunately is at the tail end of the A9, thee worst tarmac horror ever created and Inverness City, I am afraid to say, is where we draw our line of 'no further!' No Fly Zone, sorry. But, I stray off point. As you can imagine, we spend a lot of time traveling the roads and pathways of Scotland in our iron steed, Dudley Orville Deathtrap II and aside from nibbling on the dried out, pre packaged, no matter what it says on the box it tastes like cardboard, road sandwiches there's not much in the way of good eating on the barren roadsides and motorways. So after sometimes 4 hours in a van, we can be a little hungry.
We've had some of the finest buffets there are on the market and have come to view our good selves as somewhat of a buffet connoisseur these days. Hog Roast to my mind was always the finest height a buffet could achieve, until this weekend where we discovered a van exists with a stone furnace in back which can churn out a whole pizza just for you in around 5 minutes. Always an idea if you want to 'Wow' your guests.
To be brutally honest though, after a 4 hour van trip, a load in, set up and half a gig, I would eat pretty much anything by the time it gets to our break so don't worry if you're reading this, having just paid your deposit on a buffet and thinking, "What if it's not up to par?" I'd eat the tyres off your car if you put them on a plate with a little salt and pepper and sat it next to a sign saying, Buffet. To play it absolutely safe, nothing can ever got wrong when bacon rolls are involved.
Stovies used to be quite a firm favourite of mine, but sadly one day we had an event, which we have come to call The Stovies Incident, which has forever tainted my view of said food and still do this day strikes fear in to the hearts of all three of us when the word is mentioned.
Please allow me to explain.
Somewhere, many years ago now, we three Gentlemen had traveled long and weary in to the darkest depths of the countryside to play a wedding for a most charming couple. The wedding was going great: Packed dance floor, plenty of requests and everyone we met was a jolly, friendly person.
As the night went on and on, we grew tired and knew that a break was due soon for a brief refuelling, then off we go to do our thang again, re-energised after a good plate of chow. But the clock wandered on in to the night and no food table could be seen from the stage and there was no hint of a scent of food being cooked. Eventually we just stopped and figured we'd buy ourselves some more of the cardboard sandwiches on the way down the road.
Half way through the break though, we noticed everyone coming out of a side room with plates in their hands. "Aha!" we thought, as we dashed to the room.
"Grab me a plate of whatever that is," Craig shouted, "I'm just off to the gents."
So Scott and I strolled through to the next room and joined the line for food when suddenly a strange and unpleasant smell drifted my way. "Hmm, we must be near the bathrooms in here. It's an old building. Must have bad plumbing." I thought to myself.
Scott, never being one for subtlety piped up his thoughts just after, "Here, d'you not think its hummin' of shite in here?"
"We must be near the toilets, I think" I said as we passed down the line.
Sadly, the toilets were in an out building and as we approached the chef, he lifted the lid off of the pot to reveal a bubbling, brown batch of something horrible and the source of the mysterious and unpleasant odour.
Now, sometimes people use the phrase, "That smells like shit!" as a general term to describe something smelling unpleasant, but this here pot of evil before us was the original, true to the letter, stronger than the most brutal smelling salts, pot of shite I've ever seen.
"Stovies?" The chef asked me.
"Errrr…..yeah." I said as he spatted a big, mucky, brown splodge on to my plate. Being a Gentleman, I was sure to get a plate for Craig too. Then we gathered some oat cakes, which is something I've never quite understood. Why do people have oat cakes with Stovies?
Scott and I looked at each other in a kind of wild panic. We were starving, but what the Hell was this poo stew that we were supposed to eat? We walked back to the stage and prepared ourselves.
I stood, face to face with the stool sample I had, mentally building myself up. "Mind over matter." I said to myself. "It's like strong cheese. Looks horrible, smells foul, but somehow tastes lovely on a cracker. It'll be just like that."
It certainly looked like shit. It smelled like shit. I plunged my fork in to that big brown bowl of evil and took a mouthful.
It tasted just like shit too.
Or at least what I imagine shit to taste like.
Looking at the state of shock and horror on Scott's face I could see he had come to the same conclusion.
"Guess it's oat cakes for dinner then." we both agreed.
"Right lads! What's for dinner?!" Craig said with a spring in his step as he returned from the bathroom. "...What the f**k is this?" he then said when faced with the nice, extra helping of Poo Scott and I had got for him, "And what the hell is that awful smell?"
"Dinner." we replied as explained the situation to him, and the source of the smell. "Surely I cant be that bad?" he asked. "It smells bad, but it can't taste that bad. Everyone else is eating it."
We didn't want to let on we'd tried it as it just wouldn't be fair if he got away without eating it too. So we let him take a forkful and had a good chuckle when his face registered the same conclusion we had come to.
"My mouth has an aftertaste of Poo!" Scott said. "We can't eat this. What are we going to do?"
I don't know if you've ever seen that episode of Mr. Bean where he orders from a restaurant only to find he doesn't like the food and spends the next 20 minutes trying to find places to hide it so it looks like he ate it, but the next 5 minutes we stood there, with the Bride and Groom nearby and watching us, trying desperately to find a place to hide our food without looking rude and ungrateful for being fed.
I turned around looking for a convenient place to stash mine and heard a giggle behind me. I turned round to see Scott and Craig with big grins and empty plates. "How did..."
On my plate, which I'd sat down to look for a stash spot was now a massive, smelly pile of Poo Stovies which Scott and Craig had quickly scraped off of their plates and I had nowhere to put it.
"I can't eat... no! I just can't. What am I going to do?"
I looked around and there was nowhere to sit it down without being really obvious. What's worse was the smell had drifted through from the kitchen to the main hall now and I was starting to feel a little sick.
At last I spotted an open door reading, "Staff Only" for the kitchen. It would have to do. Trying to look as casual as I could, I swanned over, took a quick scope around for staff and with the coast clear, stepped in side. I ran in to a kitchen, found a bin and happily scraped all the shite pile in to the bag. Just as I tossed my plate in the sink, thinking I was a master ninja of the highest order, I turned around to see a very angry looking kitchen porter looking at me with questioning eyes.
When your in a bind and need to come up with an excuse fast, all the good ones always seem to be stuck in brain traffic. I couldn't come up with any justifiable reason why I would be in a staff only kitchen, laughing to myself as I scraped my food in to the bin. So we just stood there looking at each other, the KP and I. Eventually I had to say something and I thought, honesty is always the best policy. "I wasn't mad keen on the food, hen. I didn't want to look rude, so I just brought it in here."
"I just scraped it in the bin there. I left my plate in the sink….Is that okay?"
She said nothing to me, so awkwardly I left.
The rest of the gig went off without a hitch. Really great night, great crowd but a little hungry once my stomach had stopped doing cartwheels.
We drove back home through the night and getting in at 5:00 am I went straight to bed. I awoke the next day and made my normal morning cup of tea. I held it to my lips and as I blew on it, suddenly the foul odour of the food came back like a spectre to my nostrils and in my mind I was transported back to the plate of horror I had faced the night before. I had gotten in late and went straight to bed, forgetting to brush my teeth. Some 12 hours after, the smell of that one forkful was still on my breath. The tea went right in the bin and I proceeded to brush my teeth 100 times over.
None of us got sick from eating the food, but we have just come to be at peace with the fact that the head chef must have had an argument with the owner or something and was taking out his revenge by adding something extra of his own to the food.
The following week we were at a wedding again. We stopped for the break and got chatting to the bride.
"Thanks very much lads," she said. "Everyones loving the wedding so far. Feel free to help yourself to some buffet if you want."
"Thank you very much. We'll do just that."
"No worries. You just head over to that table and held yourself to as much food as you want. We've got Stovies for you."