The Water Margin

Well, the other day I get a knock on the door from Gill, Roger and Ray; buddies from my days in the old chalk and talk dodge.
It turns out that they are up for a day’s ‘twitching’ down at the Barnes Wetlands Centre. Now I am quite the Ornithologist when I am in short trousers and I pride myself with knowing my Widgeon from my Wagtails. So without further ado I join the intrepid threesome as we make our way over to Barnes.


Now it’s the first time I come to here and I’m no expert but it seems to me they make a pretty decent job of the Wetlands Centre. Especially when you consider that Hammersmith is about a mile away as the crow flies (so to speak) For all you know you could be in the middle of the countryside; at least I imagine that is what it is like – having a serious allergy to the countryside, I tend to avoid all things pastoral and green.
So here we are with lots of water and plants called reeds, and away in the distance some white specks; which could be ducks, geese or shoppers on Hammersmith Broadway, it is difficult to say as although I have my camera, like a clot I forget my binoculars.
However, help is at hand in the form of one of the Wetland Centtre volunteers. These guys tend to hide out in the hides (as it were) and pounce on unsuspecting ‘Twitchers’ to point out some noteworthy species with the aid of a powerful telescope.

The London Wetland Centre Celebrate Their 10th Anniversary

Like today. ‘See the Peregrine Falcon?’ ‘Oh yes’ we lie. We can see nothing but some lousy rooftops and satellite dishes. I begin to take a photo but can’t get anything in focus. ‘It might be better without the lens cap Mr Daly’. says Ray all laconical. You see? Ever the practical one? Well pretty soon we give up on the damned falcon. Gill, Rog, Ray and I compare notes about the roof tops and satellite dishes as we retire to the relative safety of the café where we sit and over tea and sandwiches discuss the migratory patterns of small children in ‘high-vis’ vests and the distinctive calls and cries of their teachers. Perhaps we even get a bit nostalgic, between us taking school trips a’plenty back in the day. All in all a grand day out, Peregrine Falcon notwithstanding, and one I will treasure for many a year.



A Peregrine Falcon. Not the Peregrine Falcon

A Peregrine Falcon. Not the Peregrine Falcon

Andy Daly

In loving memory of Ray. A true gentleman.

Simon Lewis


Dear, dear Simon. I have thought of little else today.

It seems bizarre to consider a world without you in it.

Although I know we hadn’t had much contact over the last ten years, but you were often in my thoughts.

You were a real gentleman, modest about your gifts, a great drummer, cyclist and sculptor.

I wish just one more time we could ‘bunk off’ a lecture and spend the afternoon in the Marquis of Granby chewing the fat.

Maybe one day.


And thanks.


My favourite Picture. On return from Amsterdam 1985

My favourite Picture. On return from Amsterdam 1985

200 Posts! A landmark in Blog and Web Publishing


Yes indeed. Today marks my 200th post.

I know.

Who would have thought it? AND I have still got plenty of crap up my sleeve – if you will pardon the expression.

Now I have thought long and hard (as if) about how to mark this auspicious occasion, and come to the conclusion that of late, I have been guilty of a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach to posts. Too Low Brow. And not enough references to Parkinson’s.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls here is your 200 special: A double header; comprising ‘Thought For The Day’ plus a dip into the ‘Sitting Comfortably’ archive for a personal favourite; a glimpse at an often overlooked contemporary issue ‘The Post Modern Male’ and Body Image’.


Warning! Contains male nudity of a graphic nature and Sheffield accents. May be unsuitable for those of a nervous disposition.

This is the tale of Jinks’ anus. I will never forget him telling me this story and the helpless laughter it left me with, and for which I only have to recall the story’s dénouement to have it re-kindled.

Jinks, despite being from ‘Sheff’ (Sheffield) was a smashing bloke. Bit of a nuisance when he was drunk; but then so are a lot of people. He had a tendency to square up to, or a wish to discuss the finer points of issues with Lads (and sometimes Ladies) of considerably bigger build, and who seemed to have an air of greater ‘combat experience’ behind them. He was never a great-looker, bless him (Use these words to form a sentence of your own: Pot, Black, Call, Kettle)  the last time I saw him, he wore baggy army surplus trousers, a Sex Pistols T-shirt and a denim jacket. His head was shaved, revealing an angry lunar landscape of spots, blackheads and acne scars. A long spike of hair, bleached, sprouted from a point to the front of his crown, and for the most part dangled down over his eyes and face.

“Did I ever tell y’t’ story of when I saw me oan arsehole?” He asked one day in the pub, apropos of nothing.

“Well, I were on’t’ bus comin’ oam fr-fr- fr-fr- frum college one dinner time…” (he stammered too)

I was immediately hooked and listened intently.

“Aye, I were on this bus, when I thowat: Y’ knurr, twenteh too yeayurs on th-th-th-th-this planet and I’ve n-n-n-n-n-never seen me oan arsehole.”

Then and there, Jinks resolved to do something about it. He hatched a plan. What sort of bizarre meanderings and tortured thought processes lead a human mind to close focus of such an issue is beyond me. However, unimpeded by such concerns, the intrepid Jinks prepared to alight.

At his stop, he scuttled down the stairs and off the bus. He quickly covered the quarter of a mile or so to his house.

“Twelve-thirty: brilliant, me Mum won’t be ‘oam till at least wun. Should be perfect!” he thought to himself as he glanced at his Tintin watch

He described reaching home, hurridly unlocking the front door, and racing straight up the stairs into the bathroom.

Once in, he threw off his jacket. The bathroom, though clean and tidy, was small and poky. The only mirror was that on the front of the vanity unit placed high on the wall, adjacent to the sink. Now this was going to be tricky, it would require nerve, balance and more than a little agilty. Not to worry! Our Hero had done his planning and, after feverishly unbuttoning, dropping and stepping out of his pants, naked from the waist down, he began his ascent. Careful!… one foot on the basket that housed spare toilet rolls, old newspapers, and inexplicably, a can of WD 40. Good! … it did’t give. A step up with the other foot onto the window ledge. Easy! The fan light was open causing the net curtain to play in the fluttery wind. This was the big one … Ready? One, two, three … Hup! Other foot into the ‘soap space’ corner of the sink, behind the tap … Will it hold my weight? …. Yyyyeeessss! Done it!

I recall the expession on his face as he reached this pivotal point in his recounting of the whole tale: a mixture of triumph and relief.

“At last! The Holy Grail!” (His words!) “I could see me oan arsehole!”

He should have taken more notice of the open window, for no sooner had his face of triumph clouded with revulsion at what he beheld in the mirror than the bathroom door (which in his haste he had forgotten to lock) swung open, and his Mum walked in.

“Jeremy!” She screeched “What on EARTH are you doing….?”

“I’m br-br-br-br-brushin’ me teeth Mum!”


I got to thinking (as you do) what would have happened had James Parkinson and Thomas Crapper been swapped at birth?

Parkinson would have invented the Water Closet and people would still giggle and make jokes about ‘going for a Parkie’, but I would still have a crappy disease.

My Mate Bill

Bill gladdens me, as he has almost every week for the last 18 months. Each Wednesday lunchtime, we shoot a few games of Pool and chew the fat a nearby pub. I cycle and meet him there. He is always early. I am always late. Sometimes he comes to collect me from home in the car. Even then, I am still late. (Another unexpected Bonus Parkinson’s Free Giveaway: The complete inability to organise oneself and work to anything resembling a ‘time frame’.) Formerly punctilious to the point of obsession. I am now late for everything. A trait I abhor.

In the pub, one which after my first visit I swore I would never set foot in again, we chat about this ‘n’  that. His beloved QPR, my beloved Valencia CF, and always about music, while we share some ‘Pub Grub’ which I swear is pieces of Saloon bar carpet served on a bed of the most anaemic, jaundiced-looking lettuce, accompanied by a portion of ‘fries’ which taste like they have been cooked in linseed oil. Bill usually has a pint of Guinness. Either that, or a bottle of bright blue pear cider! If it’s a Guinness day, I usually spend a sizeable chunk of the afternoon wistfully gazing at it. Maddeningly, the blackstuff, one of my favourite thirst-quenchers back in the day, now, like most other alcohols, after two or three swallows tastes like cheap diesel. Again thanks to Parkinson’s. I’ll have a soft drink or occasionally, if I feel like pushing the boat out, a pint of lager shandy.

‘Which lager do you want?’ The bar staff kindly ask. I think, though I never say it ‘It’s a fucking  shandy, it doesn’t matter what lager you put in it, it’s still going to taste shite’ I invariably find myself asking for ‘Cooking Lager then please’ but no-one gets the joke anymore.

Then it is to battle. At the pool table. What follows is a Pool Masterclass. Usually one in which I play like a complete novice, moreover one who is suffering from vertigo and has no thumbs. I  usually finish three, often all four games down.  Bill has the killer instinct, the eye for a ‘snooker’ and an ability to read the game, which sees me cornered, teased and then dispatched. Game over. Nevertheless, I continue to train hard and work at my game. I think it is paying off: I haven’t potted the white from  the Break  for weeks, now (‘The Break’ is the shot which disperses the pool balls from their triangular configuration and which marks the commencement of the game – I’m not sure how familiar you are with Snooker, Billiards, Pool and suchlike)

I on the other hand can read the game, but just can’t be bothered, and go for all the ludicrously ridiculous trick shots, which when they come off (flukes) have Old Bill staggering around in amazement. When I miss, which is more likely,  he moves in like a Hit Man and I am severely punished for my sloppy play.

Bill cheers me up no end, especially when he either:

  • Tells me the tales of his ‘Home Improvement’ capers. I am indebted to him for making me realise that there is someone worse, much, much worse than me at practising the Dark Art of DIY . Whenever I find myself struggling with a reluctant screw, troublesome nail or somesuch. I just think of Bill. For example, there was the time when he tried to plane the bottom of a door which had stopped closing smoothly, because a new carpet had been fitted. He took the door off, and gingerly at first, began to plane wood from the base. Put the door back on: check. No, still catching on the carpet. Off with the door again … and so on, for about twenty minutes, at which point he stopped, panting and sweating in order to inspect the door once more only to find he had been planing the wrong end. In other words the top. So now he had a door which still rubbed on the carpet, but which boasted a handsome four-inch gap, up above, between door and frame!
  • Has a ‘Grumpy Old Man’ rant. Usually about some spectacularly bad customer service he has received, or rather, not. A man of principle, unequivocal about what he believes is right and what is wrong, but also possibly verging on the Tourette’s spectrum, from where, he is a fine sight (and sound) as he effs and blinds about Call Centres, Helplines and some of the hapless halfwits who work therein.

And that’s my mate, Bill. God bless him.

And that’s my Wednesday afternoon.

See also Chuck Berry and CSE, TVEI, NVQ, GCSE: I talk to B and E over a BLT


© Andy Daly 2011




The Crabs

This was a band formed from staff at the last school I worked at and in which I played bass – namely an exquisite, if battered natural (‘Butterscotch’) 1973 Fender Precision. Our main rivals were the 6th Form band at the time (I guess it was 1999 or thereabouts) who subsequently stuck at  the music and  now make up 66.6% of chart band ‘Scouting for Girls’

To be able to outplay/out perform them when it came to school concerts was one of the things that prompted us to get out and about and play ‘real’ gigs. Our first live appearance was at Eastcote Hockey club in Middlesex, A ramshackle late ’60s early 70’s affair which sported a mass of corridors and a labyrinthine collection of passages.

Russ our, guitarist, discovered these and was soon able to navigate most of the hockey club – in the dark In fact, most of  the exits opened out into the changing rooms which were our green Rooms – Lovely! a pungent mix of mud, Deep Heat, sweat, lager and stale farts.

Well, to cut a long story short… Russ decided to go ‘walkabout’ for one of his guitar solos, using his ‘wireless’  guitar lead. He’d planned his route: Main Bar, Gent’s toilets (!) playing all the time, from there he was to go through the juniors’ changing room and up on to the back of the stage – except that on the night, one of the doors was locked so he had to go back. Meanwhile, as we continued to play on stage, no idea where he was, his guitar lead began to pick up the local cab service signal, the Police waveband, Heathrow Air Traffic Control and a Turkish Radio programme. He finally made it back after we had played 47 choruses of Oasis’ “Some Might Say” and ordered everyone’s taxis home for the night – A European record.

We were called the Crabs and actually played four weddings and a funeral (Well, not quite a funeral, it was a memorial service for a fellow member of staff who had died of Cancer.) We were asked to play something appropriate. (So that was ‘Pretty Fly for a White Guy’ out f the running) I suggested “With or Without You” by U2. It was very moving, definately the hardest gig I’ve ever done. In fact, Roy now lead singer with ‘Scouting For Girls’ Gave the speech.

© Andy Daly  2010.

Here’s a tall tale

Once upon a long time ago me and My Best Mate Aky entered the Scawfell
hotel, Seascale, West Cumbria (aged 19 and ¾ ) at about 10:00pm one evening. The pub was then run by a local ‘entrepreneur’ (ie Layabout/small time crook) called Joe Smith.
He had a wife who seemed to model herself on a mixture of Zsa Zsa Gabor and
Joan Collins, swanning from bar to lounge , carrying her stupid poodle and
bestowing her conversational benediction on her adoring audience (ie. her
foul-mouthed tales and bitchy gossip) Never fond of hard work, hubby Joe is
behind the bar ‘supervising’ clearly inexperienced (or inefficient) bar

Well, as me and Aky wait patiently at the public bar, nervously twitching
and eyeing the clock – remember, these were the days of a strict regime of
‘last orders’ at 10:30, out by 10:45 (11:00 on Friday/Saturday) unless of
course you were a local ‘entrepreneur’ or member of the constabulary,
in which case, ‘last orders’ was anywhere between 01:30 to 03:00am.  The bar was busy, the number waiting to be served increasing all the
time. Reluctantly, poor old Joe dives into the fray as the clamour for
drinks reaches fever pitch and proves as feckless as his dopey teenage
barstaff. It’s close to 10:20 now, and already two people, have been served
before us. Aky and me are thinking the same: What can we order, when he
(finally) come to us, that will really fuck things up for him? ‘4 pints of
Guinness: 2 each?’ I suggest ‘Make it six’ says Aky. Well, you know how L – O
– N –  G it takes to pour…… Joe’s face is a picture ‘Six pints of Guinness?!’
he repeats. You can see he’s on the verge of refusing to serve us. So at
last orders, 10:30 on the dot with 2 packed bars of drinkers waiting to be
served we watch with glee as he attempts to cope with our order. Wonderful!

Only one problem remaining….Well there wasn’t a problem with the first two
for me but I must admit, the third in 15 minutes was a bit of a struggle. Of
course ‘The Fish’ Atkinson, just glugged them all one by one; the downing of
the final dregs of each followed a wiping of his mouth with the back of his
hand and his familiar beery grin. What a laugh!

God, when I think how much I used to drink then…………….

© Andy Daly  2010

With George Michael at the Wag


I thought you might like to hear of my night out with George in the West End’s exclusive ‘Wag’ nightclub.

This was … errr … now let me see: 1985. My first year teaching. I was living in Bromley-by-Bow, heart of the East End, working by complete contrast in Northwood Hills, comfortable, leafy ‘Metroland’. My school uniform at the time was a mixture of 1950s ‘Rockabilly’ late 60s/early 70’s Skin and Suede Head style Doc Martens, Ben Sherman button collar shirts, high – waisted pleated trousers, bleached Levi jacket, bootlace ties, metal collar tips, pointed leopard print and suede ‘Brothel Creepers’, ‘Harrington’ jacket, Levi 501’s, suits from Johnsons, Kensington Market, shirts from Jack Geach, Harrow and my ever present US MA1 Flying jacket.

‘Playtime’ on a typical week around this period consisted of:

 Monday and Thursday – the last hour in the Priory Tavern, Bow once I’d finished my marking.

Tuesday and Wednesday – 5 – A – Side league, Eastway Sports Centre and bar for post match analysis, Stratford (Now the site of the 2012 Olympic Stadium)

Friday – Skinful. East or West End. Long walk or expensive cab ride back from whichever London Underground/Transport terminal I happened to awake at.

Saturday – The Wag.  (Then after see Friday)

 Sunday – Recovery position

It was Simon, dear Simon who first got me in the Wag.

By rights, I should have hated the place, it seemingly embodied everything I detest  It was exclusive. If you didn’t look right, you didn’t get in: no matter how much money you waved in the face of bouncer, Winston. It was small and cramped, even after they extended it. The beer was shite and ludicrously expensive, BUT the music!. And I have to say, the people made it a top night out.The Wag played ‘grown up’ Dance Music, Funk, Soul and R ‘n’ B. And I loved it! I remember one night of solid James Brown and James Brown mixes. OMG! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Often our itinerary was The Blue Posts Berwick St. Soho, Intrepid Fox, Jazz and Latin club Frith Street. Oh! and of course there was always someone to meet at the Spice of Life.

How much?!!

How much?!!

And so it came to pass that on one of these magical evenings, I found myself standing at the bar in the Wag. Minding my own business, I felt someone’s elbow graze mine as I idly scanned the bar looking for free staff, letting my mind and body immerse themselves in the music. I turned with a non-committal look, the owner of the elbows smiled.I smiled back, he used the opportunity to get the attention of the barmaid and get served. Bastard! It was George Michael.

As soon as he’d got his drinks, he made a beeline for the VIP area and motioned me to follow. I spent a blinding night in his company (and later that of his friends, which included Andrew Ridgely, Pepsi and Shirley among others) swapping the names of favourite singers and bands. We danced till the first morning light. Leaving the club, bleary eyed, I hitched a lift on the back of a milk float to Baker Street, at which point I jumped off and caught the first train back to Bow.

Actually that last bit’s a load of old bollocks. He smiled. I smiled back, he used the opportunity to get the attention of the barmaid and get served then fucked off to the VIP area while I waited another half an hour to get served. BUT the music! … It was a top night out.

© Andy Daly  2010