John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, was the most notorious rake of Charles II’s court, famed for his wild debauchery and savage wit. He was also one of the finest lyrical and satirical poets of his age. What follows are extracts from the personal journal he kept during a week in which he sampled the delights of contemporary Glasgow.
SUNDAY. Vexation press’d upon my brow as I awoke. What manner of witchccraft is this which so curiously affects my very soul and sap – poison’d, no doubt, by wretch’d Mistress Sacking. Indeed Sir, her ale is fit only for hot brain’d fustian fools.
MONDAY. Arose at noon. This grim climate doth chill a man to the very quick. Breakfast’d hugely.By and by I chanc’d to stumble upon a slim volume of prose entitled, Disco Biscuits. Sir, you will forgive me if I appear dull witted but such language as I found within the tome was quite perplexing. Fancy or truth? I cannot say and so here recount a passage for your most reason’d delectation, ” Twenty quid each or three for fifty. Pucka, I promise you.’ Friends purchase. I go to purchase. He shakes his sweaty head. Danny simply slips a small white burger in my mouth. I raise some saliva and swallow. What a diamond. White Burger Danny.” A spirit in the texte did touch me – perchance the very life breath of this fantastical character White Burger Danny. I’ll wager him to be a debauching companion of the highest order, yet he takes no ale or wine but rather chews his marvellous lozenge. Well Sir, I confess, if Œtwere White Burger to my right and Mistress Sacking¹s ale to my left I would assur’dly tred the ever righteous path.
TUESDAY. As I was abroad this evening a monstrous gang of crop head’d youths, each barely turn’d thirteen, did assault my very person with a shower of stones. And thence did assault my very ears with cries of “Got any eckys specky”. Sir, if my poor study of yesterday is true it seem’d quite certain they spoke the Disco Biscuit tongue. What little I had learn’d spewed forth, ‘Young Sirs, I just want to go mental. Nice one mate. Twenty squid each or a tree for a tenor. Pucka. Pucka. To the last they fell aground, Full gushing much hilarity, I took the chance and ran around, Whilst praising His great charity. I swear on prudent Charles’s life I will not venture forth the ‘morrow.
WEDNESDAY. As I refuse to leave this sanctuary, that fine fellowe Billy, my lodging companion, breathes life into that most perplexing box of ghostly images. ‘Tis a diversion of powerful sorts and soon holds my gaze with the strength of a blacksmith’s fiste. Good Billy informs me that we witness a record of some past time, some golden age, when this platoon of fellowes, nam’d Happy Mondays, held sway over the kingdom from Dover to the Highlands. A pair of deviles head the gang, a Bezley and the Ryder, Poetry and Revelry their only professions it seems – like mind’d rascals we. By and by some new host swarm o’er the screen. Again my true guide informs of their fine character and notoriety – ’tis blund’ring Vic and pious Bob. Goodly clowns are these, with six for company sat close, they hold court to cries of much cheer. Indeed Sir, young Billy’s mirth is plentiful, his spirits soar and soar once more. But hold. One fellowe’s image doth appear, Œtis portly George Dawes. This creature is a giant baby yet speaks his mind as clear as any Oxford scholar. Now at this sight my friend full doth explode and had to be carried to his bed.
THURSDAY. Susan, that delightful friend of good Billy, did take me upon an exploration of the gallery nam’d CCA, to be found well within the city walls of fair Glasgow. And, that very evening, a mass of gentle folk ’twere there to drink and revel in celebration. At length, I was inform’d that a novel exposition of art works, christen’d Lost Ark, had appear’d and thus drew this learn’d mob like some tidal force of His making. Little in the gallery was familar to my eyes, save the pervert’d forms of animals shap’d by these artisans. One great beast, it must be said, held my admiring gaze, Œtwas nam’d Spacemonkey I believe and did surely call to tender thought mine own most belov’d courtier. We supped and at length our party moved on to a most agreeable hostelry known to all as the Variety. Sir, two youths of courteous spirit there did play fine jigs and at no cost to us, one charitable fellowe’s name was Jilkes, the other Hatch.
FRIDAY. To Lidl. Sir, I am certain that you are acquaint’d with that good shoppe Kwik Save but I must entreat you to spy a wider horizon still, and get thee to a Lidl. Why, in this wondrous hall of delight, one’s purse is never, never light. Good wine and ale spill o’er the shelves, each nam’d so sweetly tis poetry. Fink Brau Lager. Rachmaninoff Vodka. Surfer’s Coconut Light Drink. Music, such music. We purchased much and so, replete, adjourn’d to our lodgings where, good Sir, I must confess to taking two quarts or more of that medicinal cocktail, Surfer’s and sweet Fink Brau. In this manner we raged and rail’d throughout the night.
SATURDAY. Arose at three, most painfullie. Dined well on true Lorne sausage. By and by I hear tis a day of music that awaits us and to this end my guide procures for our pleasure such lozenges as good Burger Danny lov’d. Then we are at it, up and away to dance and flail asunder. Our port of call is mann’d by some native of London, Andrew Weatherall, who leads all the gather’d company once more upon a most ferocious, merry jig. Tis fine sport indeed to pass this night in such good companie. To bed.