Way back in the mists of time (well, 1999 to be specific) I was on a family holiday in Brittany, and we just happened to be doing some sightseeing in Saint Malo when the Tall Ships Race was in town. I mainly just regarded it as a nuisance, as we got stuck in traffic as the procession of competitors went by at a snail's pace. Later on, I got into a conversation with a couple from Jersey who were enthusing about the whole thing ("oh, isn't it marvellous?), and asking me if I had been down to see the ships "yet". I didn't have the heart to tell them I had no intention of doing so! A couple of weeks later I was back home, and as it turned out the next stop for the race was in Greenock, and the media were talking about it as if it was the biggest thing ever. I started to feel a bit silly for having passed up the opportunity in Saint Malo, so I decided to have a second bite of the cherry. It was very good, although the organisation left a lot to be desired - there were mile-long queues at the train stations in both directions, no doubt as a result of the over-the-top decision to virtually cordon off the whole of Greenock.
Twelve years on, and the event is back in Greenock, so I went along again yesterday. I'm pleased to report the organisation is much better this time, although when I was making my way back I did feel like strangling someone who forced me to go about a quarter-of-a-mile out of my way because I had attempted to enter Bogston Station by the 'wrong entrance for my destination'! I later discovered that if I'd just told him I'd been going to Gourock instead of Glasgow I could have saved myself the walk and he'd have been none the wiser - I think it was a health and safety measure that was being over-zealously applied at a time when the station was extremely quiet.
The event itself is a bit curious - it's a bit difficult to soak up the maritime atmosphere when you have a Duran Duran tribute band belting out Hungry Like the Wolf a few feet away! Other random highlights included 'Four Poofs and a Piano' performing an Abba medley, a dance group called 'The Temptress Girls' (or something of the sort) performing a routine that was a bit on the racy side for an audience that must have been at least 20% comprised of confused-looking children, and last but not least "TV's Colin and Justin" pacing up and down purposefully in very sharp suits. It may not have made a lot of sense, but at least there was no danger of boredom!