“As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods. They kill us for their sport” (The Tempest)
It is impossible to overstate just how much we look forward to Stag weekends.
We save up hard-earned cash all year and stomach the many irritant aspects of modern day life with the consolation of that faraway date to both comfort and motivate us. Sometimes, it is the thought of joining the boys in Bucharest or Dusseldorf or Benidorm next Summer that gets us out of bed in the morning. And then, as the date draws closer and we continue to dodge the obstacles and challenges thrown at us every day, a very real and special excitement starts to build inside. It’s all we can think about, despite the matter-of-factness we exhibit to most of those we see every day, and we begin counting down the days, much as we did with Christmas when we were six years old.
Quite how we would cope with a sudden, personal and unavoidable derailment to those Stag dreams at the very last minute is not something that most of us will ever have to consider. For a very unlucky few, however, the kind of cruelty Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote that above line rears its head and forces us into doing the right thing – the only course of action available to us – at the expense of massive personal enjoyment, while the rest of your friends and colleagues head off to what you just know in your broken heart will be an unforgettable and classic getaway. When the cookie crumbles in such a fashion, it’s all you can do to swallow the disappointment and tell yourself that good things will soon come to you in return for this supreme and ultimate Stag sacrifice.
Here are a few such sacrifices, withnames changed to protect those poor unfortunate souls at the centre of each story…
To start with, meet Robin. Robin missed a large chunk of the Bratislava Stag he had looked forward to for about 8 months. He was on a Ryanair flight when a drunken brawl broke out between two members of the same Stag party (not his), forcing the flight to make a detour to land in Berlin. After a considerable wait involving airport police intervention and a series of statements taken from some of Robin’s fellow passengers, he got another flight to Bratislava, arriving so late on the first evening that he could not get a coherent response from any of the Stag group to let him know where they were, going out instead for a bite to eat on his own and resigning himself to an early night. Naturally, the rest of his party rolled in after dawn, each one finding his reasons for delay more hilarious than the last, and every person to a man confident in claiming that he had missed “the best day ever”. Despite Robin’s best efforts to kickstart proceedings the following evening, the group were predominantly the worse for wear and keen to rein in the drinking once it got to the early hours, each quick to remind him at regular intervals that he really did miss “the best day ever”, with increasingly vivid descriptions of the welcome, the Mud Wrestling, the Stag Dinner, the bars and the clubs from the moment of touching down to the dawn patrol return next morning. Robin openly admits to flouncing off “in a huff” eventually, adamant that he would equal that mythical first night out on his own if it was the last thing he did. This, of course, only made things all the funnier to the rest of the group, and that went to hysterical measures the following morning when Robin limped home, having fallen and twisted his ankle outside a Lap Club. It is not known whether Robin ever saw this group of friends again, but if not we totally understand why!
At least that chap did get to his Stag eventually. With Michael, however, that was not possible. After looking forward to a Prague trip in 2016 for more than 9 months – one he had been heavily involved in setting up, being the Usher – Michael’s father-in-law suffered a heart attack less than 24 hoursbefore departure. We can only imagine the mental torture that Michael went through in the hours that followed as his mind raced to conjure up possibilities on how he might still attend, whilst at the same time knowing with absolute dread and certainty that he could not. Michael’s father-in-law went on to make a full recovery, though the same cannot be said with regards to Michael’s abject disappointment and sense of personal loss. Knowing that you did the right thing can only mean so much when your mates return a few days later with tales of having just experienced “the perfect Stag do”. Clinging to Karma is all Michael has now – along with the increased admiration and respect of his family – so we ask that you keep him in your thoughts when you’re next away celebrating a Stag of your own. ‘There but for the grace of God…’ and all that.
Peter, meanwhile, had invested so much time anticipating the weekend of riotous entertainment and debauchery on offer in Budapest that he found himself getting less sleep in the week before he was due to fly. Having worked his backside off more than usual in the preceding months, he waited in readiness for the day when he would meet the other lads at the airport and toast to the bountiful, stripper-and-guns laden schedule that lay ahead of them. And then, the afternoon before the group’s flight, came the stunning news that his manager – the only other person who could hold the fort in their business at that time – had suffered a broken leg while hiking. Peter, through watery eyes no doubt, called to confirm that he would indeed step in at this difficult time, and yes it wasn’t the best timing, and yes he was sort-of looking forward to the Stag do, but of course he would not let his employer and friend down. Peter’s tears were only just drying up again when, still at work of course, he received an email with a group photo that could best be described as a poster for Stag weekends in Eastern Europe, taken on the party’s Danube Stag Cruise and showing every one of the group sporting huge, shit-eating grins as well as a multitude of adoring guides and Strippers. Talk about rubbing salt into the wounds… We trust that Peter’s manager has not forgotten what the broken limb lead to, and that his employee passed the ultimate test of male character.
Now it’s time to meet a man we will refer to here as Uri. Poor, unfortunate Uri was due to join up with colleagues, family and friends for a Hamburg Stag in 2015, one he had eagerly anticipated for several months and worked hard to save spending money for. With the trip only days away, Uri experienced a twisted testicle whilst playing rugby. We feel it is only right at this point in the story to encourage a moment’s silence for Uri, one which we can all respect with our heads bowed and our eyes closed… Ok, now that is over, let’s say a silent prayer for Uri – regardless of our religious or non-religious beliefs as this demands universal sympathy – and remember that there is always someone more unfortunate than ourselves. Unless you ARE Uri, of course, in which case you have every right to view the Gods as callous, vindictive twunts.
From the eye-watering to the eyebrow-raising now, with Brian being our next story’s unwilling hero. Brian was forced to drop out of his group’s long-anticipated Tallinn Stag in 2014 because his wife and young children were so upset at the sudden passing of the family’s much-loved pet dog, Sid. The timing and the personnel meant that he had no choice but to wave goodbye to a stunning Stag do while his nearest and dearest waved goodbye to their pooch. The only possible consolation here for Brian, as with many of these sad tales, is to hope that the whopping amount of Brownie points accrued for putting family before fun are cashed in at some future juncture, though not of course for the Tallinn trip that he had so long looked forward to. We have a hunch that one or two of the lads who DID travel might just have taken the p*ss with the odd text or email over the following days, months and years. No use digging it all up now, you say? You see, even you’re at it now and you didn’t even know poor Sid.
Now me meet Tom, whose sense of excitement at the build up to a Riga stag trip a few years ago saw him talk of little else to his work colleagues. Tom lives, or lived, in Northumberland, and lo it came to pass that on the day he was supposed to drive to Liverpool to meet up with the rest of the boys, his little village suffered huge snow fall. Yes, you’ve guessed it, poor Tom tried his absolute, ridiculous, panicking best, but to no avail. He was snowed in, and the news he might get some of his flight and accommodation money refunded through insurance meant about as much to him then and there as it does to a multiple-life-serving murderer told that his sentence has just been halved. The flight took off from Liverpool, and his mates were quick to report back at the “amazing” and “awesome” time they were having during that particularly tough first 24 hours for their fallen comrade. He read these messages while sat with the heating on full blast and a broken spade within his eyeline, a taunting reminder of what fate had decreed for him that long, bitterly cold weekend.
Finally, we come to Tor, and his unwanted body-swerve of an Amsterdam Stag he was hugely looking forward to in 2015. Tor somehow managed to knock himself out by hitting his head on a tumble dryer and being taken to hospital just as his friends flew out there. Apart from the endless degree of rib-tickling funnies Tor’s fellow Stag guests have undoubtedly thrown his way since the moment they heard what happened, we do hope that Tor is by now at least able to dry his clothes without clenching his teeth or bursting into tears at the memory.