Of Baywatch, Cambridge and Road Tripping – Spread the Sickness with Grant Hislop

UB Mystical Teachings – A Pauper Video Article by Grant Hislop


I’m kind of stuck for a topic to write on this week. All I’ve played this week has been the UWR Delver deck that I talked about last week, and given that I wrote a deck breakdown on it last week, I don’t think the small number of changes I’ve made to it would justify a whole new article. Seriously though, I’m getting dangerously close to writing a dating advice for Magic players article… [Editor: This is actually not a bad idea, what does everyone else think?]

Since I’ve moved to a more frequent, weekly schedule here on mtgUK, you might have noticed a change in the style of my writing. To-wit, I’ve been writing stories about my personal life, be they Magic-related or not, and tying them into some aspect of the game that’s interested me.

It seems like the majority of you enjoy reading the parts about my life as well as the Magic content, but there are, as always some outliers. I understand that the change in my writing doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some of you come to these websites for hard-hitting content, and view my ramblings about chavs, drinking and how much Coldplay suck tiresome. To those people, I say ‘don’t read it’.

I’m more comfortable writing in this style, at least for the future. I enjoy it, and it seems like most people do. I don’t enjoy reading authors who just list decklists week after week after week with no breaks to discuss basic strategy, issues affecting the community, or any other such topics. That’s obviously not to say that I’m not going to share decklists with you when I think I’ve got something good, it’s just that I’m not going to play a deck, write about it, then start looking for what I’m going to be writing about the following week. That helps nobody, especially me, so I won’t do that to you.

Also, if you’re coming to me for up to the minute Standard decklists and cutting edge technology, you’re coming to the wrong place. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not the best player going. In a world where every single day, there are roughly 50-75 articles posted about Magic, I’d like to think that my personality, and the fact that my articles are generally quite fun and light-hearted will keep you coming back for more.

If this sort of thing doesn’t sound appealing to you, then don’t read me. It’s quite simple. If you feel the need to insult me in public, on the forums, then that is perfectly fine. I really don’t care. I’m nearly 30, I’m comfortable in my own skin, and no amount of insults on the internet from people I don’t know is going to change that.

That said, I’m totally unsure what to write about this week. When in doubt though, I guess I can always tell you stories from Magic tournaments past. That’s what I’m going to do this week, so, full disclaimer, there won’t be any current Magic content of note.

I’ve mentioned before, my personal criteria for attending PTQ’s. Specifically that I refuse to drive any further that four hours. Five at an absolute maximum. This is the story about why that is.

Googlemaps says that driving from Edinburgh to Cambridge takes six and a half hours. My driving says that it probably takes closer to five and a half.

Our cast of characters includes former Scottish Magic Superstar Guy Southcott, former ‘Future of Scottish Magic’ Dylan Black, known foreigner Bruno Panara, EDH player extraordinaire Martin McGowan and myself. This was the first PTQ of the short lived new Extended season, about eighteen months ago.

If memory serves, Dylan was on 5CC, with Bogardan Hellkite as the finisher, I was playing Mythic Conscription, and the other three were playing Faeries. I’m not one hundred percent sure on Guy’s deck choice, but given that it has no bearing on why I’m telling this story, I’m not bothered enough to check with him.

Anyway, Guy and Martin are from Glasgow. For those with massive brain damage, Glasgow and Edinburgh are different places. Given that our plans included me borrowing my Dad’s car to drive down on the Friday night (my own Fiat Punto being far too small to accommodate five fully-grown-and-then-some Magic players), they’d be coming through after work, and we’d collect the more local members of the group, with a view to being on the road by seven PM or so.

I’d confirmed that I’d be borrowing the car from my Dad the week before, so was somewhat frustrated when I got to my parent’s house around half six to be told by my Mum he’d just taken the car down to Tesco to do the weekly shop. This is one of my Dad’s weekly routines, and contrary to men everywhere, he actually seems to enjoy it. The consequence of this is that it usually takes him in excess of an hour to complete, and return home.

Somewhere around quarter past seven, my Dad returned home, and pretended to get angry, claiming that I hadn’t ever mentioned it. My Mum leapt in and insisted that I had, as she was there. It was especially frustrating given that I’d text him to confirm the previous day, and that he’d replied in the affirmative…

Anyway, we went on our rounds of Edinburgh, collecting the extra two members of the party. I’d forgotten that I’d told Dylan to be waiting outside for us, with a very specific time that we’d pick him up. He was frozen through, after nearly an hour waiting on us. Poor lad.

I’d booked us a hotel somewhere in the Cambridge area for the night before, so we knew what we were aiming for. It was one of those generic, guaranteed mediocrity chains. I think this one was a Premier Inn. It doesn’t really matter.

So we’re driving down, taking part in the usual PTQ Roadtrip discussions – who we think would win in a fight between Scooby Doo and Top Cat, which vaguely famous women we’d like to disappoint sexually, and even some Magic chatter, if you can believe it.

We pull into a Premier Inn car park somewhere around one AM. We’ve booked the room for four people, and the more mathematically astute of you will have noticed that there were actually five of us. We didn’t want to have to pay any extra for the room, so we were going to check in, then sneak the fifth member of the party in at a later time.

Bruno and I went into the reception area to check in, and I opened with ‘Hi, I’ve got a reservation. Name is Hislop’, to which the guy on the desk never broke eye contact with me, and offered ‘No you don’t’. I fished around my pockets for the confirmation e-mail, but he’s right, I’m a moron, and we were in the hotel two minutes up the road. Now, why there are two of the same chain hotel within a two minute drive of each other is none of my business, and just inviting confusion.

We pile back into the car, and drive onto the next one. We went in, inform them of our arrival, and somewhere between the desk and the car, I decide to screw with the others. I’d popped the boot when I got into the car park, so the other three of our party were bagged up, and stretching their legs. I gave them my best Thunder-Face, ‘We’re in the f*cking wrong place again. There’s another one of these b*stard chain hotels another ten minutes up the road’, to grumbles. Everyone reloaded the boot, moaned, then clambered back into the car. I did a lap of the car park, before stating ‘We’re here!’ I was not popular. Bruno thought it was pretty funny though, as he’d not got his bags out the back yet, as did I, and if you’re not amusing yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

By the time we sneak the five of us up into our room, it’s somewhere around half one in the AM. PTQ’s in the UK generally start sometime around eleven AM, so there was still plenty of time for us to get a decent night’s sleep, had we wanted to. Guy and I shotgunned the bed early in the day, and there was a couch that pulled out into another double bed that Dylan and Martin took, leaving Bruno sleeping on the floor, using towels as a duvet. He explained later that this was to ensure that he got one of the full-sized towels for his shower in the morning. Clever man.

We sat and did deck-related things, swapping cards around, as is common at these events. No-one actually owns their whole deck. We sleeved up, and played a couple of games against each other. Guy and I fell asleep somewhere around the three AM mark, and I think Bruno was long gone at this point. Dylan and Martin thought it prudent to stay up until around five in the morning, finding out the nuances of the Faeries vs Five Colour matchup.

When we awoke, and made our way to the venue, those two were looking worse for wear– and Bruno was, mysteriously, the only one who’d managed to find a full-sized towel.

I played against Bruno in the first round, and lost. I then played against someone playing Doran, who ripped my hand apart, and left me with a board of Noble Hierarchs and Lotus Cobras and nothing to build in to. I died pretty shortly after. 0-2 drop, after nearly six hours driving. Excellent. Guy managed a 1-2 drop, Martin had started off strong and was 3-0. Dylan and Bruno were 2-1 after round three. Guy and I were going to go to the cinema, given that Martin was on 3-0, we figured we’d have at least a couple of hours to kill. Bruno said to wait one more round, as if he’d lost, he would have come with us.

After this round, Martin sat with his head on the table, complaining of feeling ill. After about ten minutes of this, he said ‘I’m going to drop’, and did so. Dylan and Bruno both lost their round four matches, so none of us were actually in contention any more. Clearly, given that we were around six hours from home, and more for the Glaswegian contingent, heading home early was the clear play.

Martin went to the toilet for a ‘tactical spew’, before we hit the road. I expressed my concern, but he assured me that so long as he could sit in the front, it would be fine. Famous last words. I was very impressed at his ability to pre-emptively secure the shotgun slot in the car though. Really, who can argue with it?

We hit the A1 dejectedly, little knowing how bad it was going to get.

After around five minutes of driving on the motorway, I heard a retching noise to my left. To my horror, Martin was vomiting on himself. I’m not entirely sure of what protocol is in these situations, but I elected to pull over onto the hard shoulder, and invite that he get out of the car to finish off. After a short while, he gets back in, and I say ‘We’ll drive to the next services, and get you cleaned up, mate’, patronisingly. I’m rubbish with sick people. He nods his head a couple of times, clearly rough as a badger’s arse.

As it transpires, the nearest service station was within a couple of hundred yards, so it wasn’t the worst. As we all got out, I said to Martin ‘Look, I know you’re sick, and I don’t mean to be a dick, but could you pick up some wet wipes or something, and we’ll try and clean this sick off the car floor’. He goes away to the toilet, comes back with a pack of kitchen roll, ladies and gentlemen. Kitchen roll. To clean up vomit. On carpet. The minds of the sick…

After spreading the vomit around the car carpet like Nutella on toast, I told Martin to go back in and get some bags, just in case he needed to be sick again. He swore blind that that was it, and that he’d be fine now. I’d heard that story before, so I insisted.

The other three had been relatively quiet up to this point, but when Martin went in, to ask for bags, then came back, realised he’d vomited on his T-Shirt, then took it off, threw it into the bin, and walked over to the car across the garage forecourt topless, I swear to you, we all spontaneously broke into singing the Baywatch theme. Obviously, we’re all awful at singing, but what we lacked in talent and ability, it was made up for with enthusiasm, shouting and pointing. This is my favourite PTQ memory ever. Ever, ever. Like even more than winning one.

Back into the car, and after half an hour, Martin’s vomiting into a bag. Depressingly, the first one he’s picked has a hole in the bottom of it. Even more depressingly, the hole’s pointed right at my side. Even MORE depressingly, Martin’s stomach contents are almost entirely liquid, so I’ve got a lovely coating of liquid vomit down my side. Another stop in another garage, so I can change my T-Shirt, and we’re on the way again.

Almost like clock-work, every half hour, Martin’s dry-retching into a plastic bag. I really feel for the guy, because he’s obviously brutally ill, and, if memory serves, he ended up being off work for two weeks or so after this incident. Looking back, it’s incredibly funny, but at the time, I was more concerned with the vomit and the formidable stench.

We got back home somewhere around eight PM, and I packed the ‘weegies off by Guy’s car, making sure Martin still had a supply of plastic bags for the trip home. I took the Edinburghers back to their homes, and then set to cleaning my Dad’s car, on the off-chance that he might acquiesce to future requests to borrow it. I spent about an hour scrubbing at dried sick on the carpet, but just couldn’t get the stank fully out. I had to return it, apologise, and pay my Dad for roughly 200 air fresheners to mask it.

Some people stand in the darkness,
afraid to step into the light,
some people need to help somebody,
when the edge of surrender’s in sight,

Don’t you worry,
It’s gonna be alright,
‘cause I’m always ready,
I won’t let you out of my sight,

I’ll be ready (I’ll be ready),
Never you fear (no don’t you fear),
I’ll be ready,
Forever and always,
I’m always here.

Stay classy mtgUK,





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