Withnail and I

Ey up. I better go and look for the pruning shears in the shed. My toenails need cutting again.

Curtains For Suky

Not recommended

  •  for children under the age of 12, unless accompanied by a parent or Guardian
  • Junior Science teachers ( a minimum of 2 years experience)
  • Science Technicians (as above, pro rata)

Meeting Suky

Once upon a time, before the invention of colour, I found myself in an English lesson. It wasn’t any old English lesson, oh no. It was my first English lesson at my new middle school: the monument to knowledge, learning and betterment of the Human Soul that was St. Wilfred’s Catholic Comprehensive Co- Educational Middle School, Rochdale. As I recall, a largely grim place which bore more than a passing resemblance to that which features in Ken Loach’s iconic 1969 film ‘Kes’. His version of the Barry Hines story ‘Kestrel for a Knave’. Honestly if you want a fairly accurate picture of what life was like in a run of the mill secondary school in the industrial North of England: all its banalities, injustices, absurdities and gallows humour, you need look no further than Casper’s school. In particular, the masterpiece that is the PE lesson and the Headmaster’s Office sequence (Go on have a look. For those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, click below  for a vintage piece of social commentary in film) I can remember numerous lessons – not just PE, which were as surreal and farcical.

However, its significance was in more than just the marking of another new phase in my life. I admit, I suppose the fact that this notable lesson was being taught  by a professional wrestler was something that doesn’t happen every day. (‘Taught’ insomuch as he gave us the books, set the task, remained with us the whole lesson and repeatedly told us to ‘Shut Up’) Mr. Green as I recall; though I daresay that wasn’t his ‘ring name’ I reckon it was something like ‘Greedy Guts Green: the Grappling Greaser’. He had shoulder-length lank, dark hair and great sideburns like strips of airport runway tarmac that very nearly met under his chin and a huge paunch on top of which you could comfortably park a decent sized family car. A monicker that would have been suitably in keeping with his hirsute style, far from athletic frame and the kind of bizarre, yet strangely compelling spectacle that was British ‘Professional’ wrestling in the 1970s.

No. Despite being an interesting footnote to my education in English, the lesson’s significance did not lie with Greedy Guts or plain Mr.Green nor indeed, how he chose to earn his pocket money.

It was significant because this was the first time I met Suky.

Suky was (and hopefully still is) Edmund Giddins, loveable rogue, tearaway and ne’r do well of Castleton near Rochdale. Not that I ever – not once, called him ‘Edmund’ or  ‘Nez’,’ Ed’or ‘Giddy’ In fact I can recall times where I had trouble remembering exactly what his real name was. No, the strange nickname was down to elder brother Robert’s teasing, singing the nursery rhyme ‘Polly Put The Kettle On. The line ‘Suky Take It Off Again’ seemed to stick, and Suky it was.

We were pals straight away and every chance we got to sit together, we did. Suky was alright. Not least because he was PNE. That means he was a supporter of Preston North End. Living in Rochdale, that took some bottle, particularly as he was so passionate about them. It wasn’t something he hid: quite the opposite. He tattooed the back of his hands during another English lesson. I remember watching him do it, ‘convict style’ with a compass and a fountain pen ink cartridge. ‘PNE’ across his knuckles. I admired this aspect of his character. The only other PNE supporter in Rochdale I knew of was my Dad, who although he didn’t tattoo their name across his knuckles, was passionate in his own way when he talked wistfully of his times at Deepdale watching the great Tom Finney.

Suky had eight brothers: Frank, John, Robert, Chris (who I was to get to know some years later, in of all places, Newcastle upon Tyne, where he was doing teacher training) Anthony or ‘Ants’ as he was known, Michael, Richard, Patrick and three sisters: Anne, Shiela and Pauline. Chris and ‘Ants’ were the only ones I knew. My Best Mate Aky lived nearby and bunked off with ‘The Giddins’ – or at least Suky, Chris and ‘Ants’ – closest to him in age, on a fairly regular basis.

And ‘The Giddins’ is how they were known. A collective entity. Mad on Bowie, Velvets, Lou Reed, Roxy. Not so mad on school, authority, being told what to do. There were times when they bunked so much, people thought they were on part time timetables. Suky wasn’t a bad lad. He was bright but lazy, enjoyed having a laugh, was fearless – every time some hairbrained scheme or other was hatched requiring someone with a bit of moxie to front it, Suky was there. He was always in trouble: increasingly so as he got older; but nothing major, nothing nasty. He gave the impression he just didn’t care – and he didn’t about a lot of things: but he never would have hurt anyone.

Two memorable lessons (for all the wrong reasons)

Both incidents take place at the Bishop Henshaw Memorial R C High School, Shaw Road, Rochdale. Don’t look for it, it’s no longer there. It is now St. Cuthbert’s. I attended for two years: 4th and 5th year (Years 10 and 11 in today’s money)

Anyway, it is three years later and it just so happens that me and Suky are sitting together, funnily enough, in our first Geography lesson at our new high school, the aforementioned Bishop Henshaw – or ‘Benshaws’ as it was known. Despite it being our very first lesson of the year our teacher was absent (not a good sign) and so we were being looked after by the Head of Department, the ‘hilarious’ Mr. Broadgland. He was playing the ‘Introductions’ Game. Go round the room one table at a time and get everyone to say who they are, which school they have come from, why they have chosen Geography and who they fancy for the 3:30 at Chepstow. Anyway, he finally casts his piggy little eyes in our direction. I am dreading this, but he starts with Suky – “Now, don’t tell me … You’re a Giddins aren’t you?”

“Yes Sir” says Suky

“Aaaahhhh. See? I can smell ‘em a mile off” Chortled Mr Broadgland to himself.

“Yeah, but at least I don’t smell of shit like you, you cunt” said Suky under his breath, smarting (as I did on his behalf too) at the uncalled for verbal assault by Broadgland.

“What’s that lad?”

“Oh I was just saying I hoped I’d be able to sit nearer the front Sir”

“Pleased to hear it Giddins, my lad, pleased to hear it. Next week”

“Fuck you, you knob” muttered Suky

“Sorry? …. “

“I said just the job  …”

What an outrageous thing to say. Thirty five years later I can still see, as though it were yesterday,  Suky colour up, bite his lip, breath quicken and blink rate increase  as his eyes begin to prick and sting …. .

The second episode is –  surprise, surprise! Another Geography lesson, six months down the line. It turns out that our Geography teacher, second in command in Broadgland’s little empire, is ‘up the duff’ or ‘with child’ so not only have we not seen her since we started at the school, we’ve had cover teacher after cover teacher after supply after cover teacher and its a load of crap and we’re all sick of Broadgland’s photocopied sheets. In fact, we never do see her,ever, because after giving birth, she decides to give up teaching to be a full time Mum! Excellent! Another year of photocopies we’ve actually already done and cover teachers,supply teachers, cover teachers …

… Like this one. Dr. Joy. Bastard. He was a Physics teacher of bad hair and humour. Today, he had our lesson. The inevitable photocopies came round, we said we’d already done them. He said we hadn’t, we said WE HAD: TWICE, he said there must be a good reason for us doing them again and not only that, but we would do them in SILENCE! (Shouted) –  a common teacher’s trick. Lull your class into a false sense of security, with a gentle calm voice … then make them all jump when for no apparent reason, YOU SHOUT THE LAST BIT OF YOUR SENTENCE OUT AS LOUD AS YOU CAN! Great fun.

Anyway, there’s no chance me and Suky are going to pass up the opportunity of a good natter – probably about music, which by this time, we were both heavily into. Joy obviously knew we were talking, he kept looking up and giving us the ‘I know you two are talking, and so I’m going to keep doing this till I catch the pair of you’ look. Well me and Suky are quite adept thank you very much at holding surruptitious conversations. I mean, we’d had lots of chance to practice. But what this sneaky bastard does is quietly slip out of his seat, work his way around the room, coming up behind as we chunter away. He’s brought with him ‘Scrote’s Elementary Physics’ a sizeable hardbacked tome, which he brings down with full force, on first my noggin, then Suky’s. To add insult to injury, he  gives us a post lesson ‘stern talking to’ and asks us each do an essay for the following morning on ‘Truth’ ‘Why it’s important not to lie’ or some bobbins like that. Bastard! ….  Anyway, I thought as he sent us away, We didn’t tell any lies: we were talking; you caught us.Then you hit us over the head with the fucking Domesday Book.

I saw Suky the following morning.“Essay? “ He looked unconcerned. “Nah, he can stick it up his arse. I’m not writing any essays. He won’t bloody check “ He didn’t, Joy never bloody did. My Dad was Head of the Sixth Form at the school, and I didn’t want tales of my misdemeanors finding their way back and embarrassing him. So my earnest, crappy little ‘essay’ was dutifully handed in at the staffroom door. It probably went straight into the bin. (As kids, staffrooms seemed to suggest a fiercely guarded garden of delights. When I became a teacher, I discovered that all that was fiercely guarded were the few minutes calm in a sea of lunacy …there was no garden of delights. Not even, despite the many plant pots and yoghurt containers anything remotely green and living – except in the fridge –  the squalor! …)

The Tale of Suky and the fireproof curtains

Now then, in a grim, colourless and unstimulating environment, Science labs were an Alladin’s cave of wonders just crying out to be stolen, broken, fucked about with, and used for entirely the wrong purpose.The corridors and stairwells where we had to ‘line up’ for Science lessons had fire extiguishers at approriate intervals on their walls. It was considered highly amusing, around this time to read out to those around you for their health and safety, the instructions for operational use of these vital pieces of equipment.

Remove from the wall

Keep upright

Aim at the base of the fire

Strike knob

At which point, some unfortunate of the male persuasion and not party to what was coming next, would be the recipient of a barrage of thumps into the goolies which would serve to make his eyeballs spin, like washing machine drums in different directions, stream stinging tears and be enough to raise the pitch of his voice by two octaves. Little did we know that today they would be called into action. (And at least one of them found wanting)

Like many school Science departments, the rooms were collected around a central resource space with connecting doors to the classrooms. we entered the classroom and sat down. Suky was in the other class. After a few minutes I felt sure I heard a faint scream, from the class next door. Then lots of subdued shouts, calls and a couple of bouts of hysterical laughter. The noise was getting louder!

Suky had decided to appoint himself Chief Fire Officer for the day and number one on the list of checks he had chosen to  to perform was over the effectiveness of the flame retardancy of the safety curtains. All Suky had to do was open the gas tap and torch the nearest curtain at the same time. The rest of the class, sensing something was ‘afoot’ began to sidle over to Suky’s side of the room, eyes on the curtains.

And they weren’t disappointed as much to their glee minimal contact between flame and fabric, and they went up like the Hindenberg. One of the white-coated Science technicians burst through the connecting door, into our classroom, from where, she amost bounced up to Mr. Viscsak our teacher and began whispering frantically.

A loud “Ooooooooohhhhhh!” from next door.  It seems like another curtain had gone up. It was like bloody Bonfire Night!

We weren’t aware of it at the time, but it transpires that poor old Suky is in double trouble. For as we strain our necks to watch the flaming tatters of the ‘fire- proof’ curtains peel away and fall with a kind of ghostly grace, they do so onto neatly stacked piles of unmarked Science exam papers! Arkward.

“Now that’s enough!” Said Mr. Viscsak, as he strode purposefully next door to sort out the whole flaming mess. We were out of our seats peering into next door’s room for a better view. Suky was dragged off for questionning The whole school was abuzz with his exploits at lunchtime.

What’s all this about the curtains in the Science lab?

‘Fireproof’

‘Huuuuhh?’

‘Fireproof, flame retardant. I think they have to have them in case of fire.’

‘Well, they had a case of fire today, and they were fucking useless’

Epilogue

Later that same afternoon, Suky was grilled by Headmaster, Mr. O’Riordan . His defence that he wanted to check and confirm that the curtains met minimum BS standards was found to be untenable. Suky was sent home the afternoon of his misdemeanor, to come back again the following morning, to then be taken out of his lessons all day, returned to his science classroom at the end of the school and held there for an hour’s detention.  That was just for starters. I think the Science department wanted its pound of flesh for those damaged exam scripts.

With a clarity that is admirable, Suky said “This is bollocks”, went home that afternoon never to return!

Let me explain. All this nonsense took place about four weeks before the end of the summer term of Suky’s  third year. the summer holidays followed, then …a new school! …. Bishop Henshaw! Suky confided in My Best Mate Aky. What was he going to do? They were going to crucify him at school. Aky put his thinking cap on. Master-tactician and strategist even at the age of 13, Aky considered the whole picture. There was a fair chance, he reasoned, that if Suky ‘laid low’ till the end of term, then a new start in a new school? who knows? It might all blow over. It was a calculated risk. But one that Suky was prepared to take. My Best Mate Aky concerned that Suky’s immediate future and peace of mind rested on his ‘long shot’ agreed to accompany him. So the two of them bunked off the whole of the following month.

And what do you think? It bloody well worked! Suky ‘re-surfaced’ anew at Bishop Henshaw, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so to speak, having escaped the wrath of Headmaster O’ Riordan and St. Wilfred’s Science department. Now you can see why idiot Broadgland’s stupid remarks struck a raw nerve.

So there you go. That’s the story of Suky and the unsafe safety curtains. I last saw Suky in The Flying Horse 1977, before I moved away from Rochdale. But I gather that he still lives in the area with his family. Thanks Suky for a great story and just mind how you go with the barbecue.

© Andy Daly  2010

 

 

Going Over The High Side (Again)

Key words:

Idiot, Reckless, Speed, Thrill, Gradient, Air, High Side, Thump!, River, Brakes, Service, Repair, Hip, Bruising, Shit for brains.

(See also ‘Going Over The High Side’)

© Andy Daly 2011

Recurring Dream: What would Freud have made of it?

Here I was minding my own business, being agreeably insomniac, when all of a sudden I’m having these dreams. And not only that, but recurring dreams too. I never have recurring dreams: I’ve had ‘The Old Hag’ dream and woken up to find her sitting on my chest (I’ll tell you about it one day) but never recurring dreams.

Hindu Temple in Neasden

So it was that in the first of these dreams I found myself having to produce a life sized copy of the Hindu Temple in Neasden North London, or perhaps more correctly The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir; Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple. My task was not only to do this, but to do it with flatpack furniture. No easy feat I can tell you, when all they give you is one stupid Allen (Hex) key and no instructions.

Hoover Factory

Then the following night it was but a stone’s throw away … Okay 20 minutes by car (presumably – I was asleep) and to Perivale. The subject was Wallis, Gilbert & Partners’ wonderful  Art Deco masterpiece, The Hoover Factory on the Western Avenue (A40)  My construction materials for the night were packed in brown card boxes and  were stamped IEKA. What a headache. Every boxed item had a silly name, like Sküm and Tossa. I couldn’t tell my Arsse from my Elbö. In the dream, however, I managed it OK.  It just took us 4 hours to get back in the traffic.

Tower Bridge

Then night three and Tower Bridge. I had to use end-of-line bits and pieces from Do-It-All and B & Q. There wasn’t enough stuff! I told them I would need more shelf brackets and door hinges but they didn’t listen. If you look closely you will see my Grade One listed building has no back. Also, Do-It-All and especially B & Q need to sort out their warehousing.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Last night, and after the North London temple, this was the toughest task: St Paul’s Cathedral. I had to complement the main construction with at least two from the hundreds of really interesting buildings tucked away in that sort of triangle created by Bishop’s Gate, Newgate St. and then down to the river. I was really disappointed with this one: I left out ‘The Whispering Gallery! Can you believe it? My other two very rushed offerings were in the shape of a poorly scaled St Mary le Bow and a lopsided Bank of  England. Finding drawer fronts that weren’t already marked or scratched was a problem.

What would Freud have made of it all?

So just what would Freud, that interpreter of dreams, explorer of the unconscious, architect of psychoanalysis – himself a North London resident for the last few years of his life, have made of this?

(Parliament Hill)

Well for my money, I reckon he would have taken off either to Highgate Ponds and the surrounding area on Hampstead Heath, or Parliament Hill, located in the south east corner of Hampstead Heath, and a vertigo-inducing 322 feet high. From here, or hereabouts, he would have had good views variously of Kenwood House, Keat’s House, The Spaniards and the Old Bull and Bush.

(St. Marylebone Church)

 

(Kenwood House: A museum of food mixers here) 

In the other direction, although unlikely to have been able to see the river, he would otherwise have had much of the city of London laid out before him: Regents Park, St. Marylebone Church, Westminster ahead, To the east The Monument and St. Pauls. Closer, and those symbols of mercantile might, the railway stations: George Gilbert Scott’s St. Pancras, an exceptional example of the Gothic Revival, flanked by Kings Cross and Euston. Together they presented an unequivocal statement of intent by the railway companies. To the West, and moving away from the ‘dirty’ money  – soiled as it were, by work and toil, the relative calm and tranquility of the Palace and Royal Parks.

 

Think of the possibilities he had – The Houses of Parliament made using empty carbolic soap boxes, The Monument using packets of tea, and Sloane’s liniment bottles, The Old Bailey, a triumph of Soda Syphons and their cases, Kenwood House with timber pilfered from the rail depot at Finchley Road.

You know, in the light of this, I’m of the opinion that we ought to look at dreams and what they mean in a lot more detail.

What do you think? Send in your ideas. Use the comment space after this post.

(Pic. credits: 1, Wikipedia 2, Blinking Charlie)

© Andy Daly 2011

Recurring Dream 2. What does it all mean?

Last night: Tower Bridge using end-of-line bits and pieces from Do It All and B & Q.

© Andy Daly 2011

A Joke

… And that’s how Bobby Womack ended up writing “Breezin'”, but has never recorded it himself.

Now then, where was I’ve written ‘Lancaster Cathedral’ down on this piece of paper, what’s that all about?

  • Ah yes, a joke.

Once upon a time my Dad went to a sunday service at Lancaster Cathedral as he often does, where they just happened to be renovating one of the doors. The congregation was swelled by group of Spanish tourists from San Sebastian (in the Northern Basque territory) One of the priests is an ex-pupil of my Dad’s and so they lingered a bit to chat, and generally chew the fat.

Watching people leave through the only available door, result of the works. The priest had noticed that the Spanish group  had managed to clog the door as they filtered out, still taking photos.

As quick as a flash and dry as you like, he says “That’s what you get when you put all your Basques in one exit!”

© Andy Daly 2016

All photos from Lancaster Cathedral Blogspot

Which reminds me….

Once upon a long time ago, we had a French friend who was at the dinner table
with her boyfriend’s parents  for the first time. “Oh I say are you alright
Chantelle?” asked the concerned host as Chantelle appeared to choke on her
food. Keen to impress (as ever) with her wide vocabulary she replied
“Oh yes, I’ve just got something stuck in my clitoris!”

Of course she meant epiglottis.

Up Pompey. Study casts new light on antiquities discovered in Portsmouth and Southsea.

No it doesn’t. The above is just a shameless ploy to entice more visits and so improve my Blog readership figures. Still, as you are here you may as well join us on a journey into antiquity in order to get an insight into what life was like in Roman times for the graffiti writer. Admittedly not the most attractive of activities, you may think, but hold! There is more to it than meets the eye (just) and graffiti is as much a part of the history of the Romans as the literature of Ovid, Horace, Virgil and Seneca.

Pompeii

Please note this post deals the issue of Roman and contemporary toilet humour and while every attempt has been made to clean it up (if you see what I mean) It may not be suitable for those of a nervous disposition.

My Dad was in his element over Easter. This well-known and respected Latin and Classics scholar (at least he is to us) was in his element because he had an audience, one hanging with rapt attention, on his every word as he waxed lyrical about his visit to Pompeii and Herculaneum and the treasures he saw there. The audience was made up of his 6 grandchildren, to whom I am reliably informed by our eldest and senior of the group:

‘He is a ledge, Man’*

And deservedly so. He is.

Initially uncertain, his audience (whose ages span from 10 to 19) has been caught out many times before by their wily grandparent who starts out in all seriousness, well-informed and erudite with just the right balance of playful  humour and authority to command attention, only for him to spring an unexpected punch line, pun or go off at a tangent  on some ‘Shaggy Dog’ story or tall tale. (It will probably come as no surprise that he was a schoolmaster back in the day, and a good one at that too.)

But it seems that today they are to be spared a trip down the garden path. There are no traces of any wicked grins playing round the corners of his mouth. His charges relax.

In fact, he is doing something he loves, which is to explain some facet of  the Classical world with reference to our own, or vice versa; and in so doing, put whatever the subject under investigation, into context for his listener. Today the subject is graffiti. I forget exactly what prompted it, but he is telling them about some of the graffiti in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Pompeii. Vesuvius in the background

Part of the tableux of a life lived in 79CE and left to us, courtesy of the devastation caused by the eruption of Vesuvius, is a rich and vibrant collection of graffiti in all its forms. Bawdy toilet humour, messages, jokes, riddles, politcal comment.  At one end of the scale some of it is surprisingly literate – translations or adaptations of classics of Latin literature such as Virgil, Ovid and Seneca, tantilisingly suggestive of a plurality that is almost Post-Modern. But hey, let’s not get carried away here. What we are interested in is quite the other end of the scale, such as the messages left on the walls of latrines or down back alleys. As my Dad points out much of this graffiti is surprisingly familiar, despite it being close to two thousand years old. He gives some examples like that on a latrine wall which kindly informs us:

(Apologies for any errors and the rather free tanslations. All of which are the sole responsibilty of the author)

‘Secundus hic cacat’ (‘Secundus had a dump here’)

And

‘Apollinaris medicus Titi imp(eratoris) hic cacavit bene’ (‘Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, succesfully parked his breakfast here.‘)

Meanwhile, he compares the contemporary notices helpfully posted by the groundsman at a nearby recreation ground. In the ramshackle toilets he reminds patrons in no uncertain terms about proper use of urinals (apparently some youngsters – and maybe a few oldsters – are still unclear about the distinctly different modes of operation of water closet and urinal and the type of use each are designed for.) Along with the warning signs down many of the back alleys round where he lives that are intended to remind the general public of their responsiblities re: bodily waste, be it human or animal (notwithstanding  any local by-laws) he draws parallels, first with the inscription on a water tower in Herculaneum:

‘Qui vult hic assidere admonetur ut sequar. Si uero eum admonendo, habebis poenam solvere…..’

(‘Anyone who wants to drop the kids off at the pool at this point is advised to move along. Penalty charges  are in operation.’)

                                                                                                                                         

Cacador cave malum

And found on a wall painting of Fortuna in  a corridor leading to latrine of IX.7.21/2.

‘Cacator cave malum, aut si contempseris, habeas Iovem iratum.’ (By Jove – perhaps in the style of Ken Dodd … –  By Jove, missus whoever it is who keeps crapping round here is going to make him (Jove) very angry)*

 ‘So,’ as my Dad concludes: ‘You see, things haven’t changed that much in the nineteen hundred  years since the volcano erupted and showered Pompeii with dust.’

Boom

At which point, it becomes clear that not all the group have been listening with quite the level of attention we had thought, as our eldest pipes up on hearing this:

‘A volcano? In Portsmouth? Where?’

It was quite some time later, that we were able to dry our eyes and look at each other without triggering a recurrence of fits of giggles. Priceless.

Now it is possible, dear Reader, especially if you are not  familiar with English placenames and their histories: true or otherwise, that you may be feeling cheated of a punchline, particularly after having negotiated such a sloppy piece of writing. My apologies. Let me explain:

You see,  our eldest had, it seems been only half – listening to his Grandad’s wise words, for he had mixed up the names Pompeii –  famous Roman town overlooking the Gulf of Naples, devastated by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE and Pompey – nickname for the English naval town of Portsmouth (where there is a noticeable absence of volcanos) and its football team. The moniker being result of one, the other or none of the following:

Pompey

Bombay was part of the wedding gift of Catherine of Braganza to Charles II.

Portuguese seaman saw a resemblance between the two ports and may have called Portsmouth “Bom Bhia” which to English ears sounds like Pompey.

Dame Agnes Weston was describing the murder of the Roman general Pompey at a lecture to a naval audience. A member of the audience exclaimed “Poor old Pompey!” and this phrase stuck.

A drunkard’s slurred pronunciation of Portsmouth Point.

Ships entering Portsmouth harbour make an entry in the ship’s log Pom. P. as a reference to Portsmouth Point. Navigational charts also use this abbreviation.

 Up Pompeii

La Pompee was a captured French ship moored in Portsmouth and used for accommodation. (Captured 1793 and broken up 1817). There is a Yorkshire term “pompey” for prison or house of correction. Which is useful to know as Yorkshire is some 270 miles away.

Volunteer firemen in the eighteenth century (known as pompiers) exercised on Southsea Common.

In 1781, some Portsmouth sailors climbed Pompey’s pillar near Alexandria and became known as the “Pompey boys”.

The pomp and ceremony connected with the Royal Navy at Portsmouth led to the adoption of the nickname, “Pompey”.

Take your pick.

‘Ledge’ or not, My Dad is left nonplussed, thunder stolen the result of  his grandson’s short attention span. Or was it? Part of me suspects  a ‘knowing ambush’ of his Grandad’s denouément  – if so his timing and delivery were faultlesss. I must ask him about that.

* Strictly speaking this – the bringing on of guest voices –  is considered very bad form in documents of a historical nature, but I just couldn’t resist it. Sorry.

*’Ledge’: Legend

Further Reading:

Beard Mary (2008) ‘Pompeii: The life of a Roman Town’ Profile Books Ltd.  

Mary Beard Blog: ‘A Don’s Life’

Harvey B K (2001) ‘Graffiti from Pompeii’ Pompeiana.org.

Origins of name Pompey based on information from Royal Navy Museum.

Special Guest: Ken Dodd

Pic credits: Virtual Tourist, destination360.com, en.wikipedia.org, Current Archaeology, http://www.bibbymaritime.com , Daily Mail.

© Andy Daly 2011

How to hang your Skrötum

(Please note this post may not be suitable for young children or those of a nervous disposition)

A post prompted by ‘Sitting Comfortably?’s recent series on recurring dreams which involved forced DIY of a particularly ‘Flat-Pack’ nature and their interpretation. It is intended to provide succour and support for those in ‘Flat-Pack Hell’, wherever that happens to be: deep in their subconscious, or all over the living room floor.

Swedish Exports

So, guess what? Me and an old friend had a whale of  a time last weekend … At our local branch of IEKA. Yep! You heard correct: I did say IEKA. Sweden’s greatest export (After Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anne-Frid* of course) That unlovely and irritating Nordic hemorrhoid (which in case you’ve ever been curious are a damn sight easier to get than they are to spell)  which sits aside the marginally unlovlier A 406. The capital’s inner orbital route.

 Not one of my favourite parts of town

That’s the ‘top bit’ – if your Geography’s failing you – The North Circular: or simply ‘That Fucking Road’ as it is more commonly known. It wends it miserable way through  North West London, blighting the lives of those unfortunate enough to live near it, who, at our present location, just happen to be the inhabitants of Neasden. And of course the poor sods who have to attempt to journey along its carbon-encrusted, crumbling and winding fucking lanes, its lights and never, never, never-ending road works with their inevitable lane closures.

You could say that it is not one of my favourite parts of town. In fact, I will do almost anything to avoid filtering round from Hanger Lane, or down through Wembley/Stanmore or anywhere which leads in the general direction of ‘You Know What’.

‘You Know What’. Otherwise known as IEKA.

 A successful visit to IEKA.

There are a pitifully small number of occasions on which we can have said to have had a successful visit to IEKA. In other words avoided an interminable traffic jam, there, back – or both, been able to walk through the store without fear for our safety, found what we wanted, been able to pay for it, then fit it onto/into the car and make it home without further incident. These pathetic ‘successes’ have been achieved either as the result of an early morning snap-decision to ‘up and out’ while everyone is still in bed and beat the crowds  –  or even better, to go when the England football team play a major game such as a World Cup quarter-final, for instance.

 

Just look at it. Like a malevolent Lego set. It stands (casually, lazily. Not straight-backed and disciplined like Marine Commando John Lewis) A sharp – eyed sentinel, jealously guarding its ‘reputation’ and more importantly its market share; topped off with all the charm of a devious, wicked paedophile: enticing the unwary and vulnerable into its veritable ‘Garden of Delights’.

Seductive furnishing, fabrics and practical knickknacks

The sad fact of course though is that there is no answer to its seductive furnishing, fabrics and practical knickknacks. Not at such prices. There really isn’t anywhere else you can get that sexy, contemporary tin opener for less than the price of a pint and a game of pool. Or that sofa-bed which you’ve been searching for (but without  breaking the bank) for when your Dad comes to stay. I dread  the words: ‘Shall we go to IEKA? We could do with something with which we can create a bit of space’ It’s  a bit like hearing ‘I’ve been thinking, Pet. I really do think its time we got rid of that surplus old testicle of yours. We’ve never needed it … and besides, it takes up so much room.’ In addition, it  will fit so snugly into that alcove’  (the sofa-bed) – and incidentally push Dad’s Sciatica into a new and chronic phase.

Reassuring

And look at this: both products, tin opener and sofa-bed are packaged in reassuring, environmentally – friendly corrugated card. And both carry the individual designer’s name: Bengt Bangersson and Soren Ulafsson respectively. (However, the chances of you getting hold of Bengt or Soren should their product fail to come up to your expectations are … well … remote to say the least.)

Funny Names

And they do give them some funny names don’t they? the products? The sofa-bed is called a ‘Lycksel’ which I can’t help thinking is rather rude – if not a physical impossibility.

Try it yourself

Rant over and done with and out of my system – this is where Jimmy and I got our laughs.’Rude, Suggestive and Silly IEKA names’. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s not original, but it made us giggle for a while. I am sure that many of you will have not only played  but come up with far better examples of your own.

Here are some of ours. Try it yourself: in the store or just flicking through the catalogue at home. Lycka till !

New  for 2011/12

Recktum – Is space a problem? Try these attractive stacking storage boxes. You’ll wonder how you ever did without.

Nob. A carefully positioned Nob can do wonders for even the most featureless room. Try the Nob range of table lamps.

Wince. IEKA’s range of giftware. Second to none.

Don’t buy till you’ve tried Bile, IEKA’s exclusive space age cooking utensils.

Tossä. You won’t be able to resist Anders Liefshite’s dynamic new tablewear.

Robust, hardwearing – you need a strong, sturdy Skrötum – especially with the likes of these rascals climbing all over it all the time! Skrötum is a fully interchangeable system of shelving for walls, doors and … wherever you want!

Chuff: An elegant soap dispenser.

Pubik: Scatter cushions.

Gag: a complete range of bedding – sheets, pillows, duvets. You name it!

Ulsså: make your mark with these ready-made curtains.

The ‘Must-Have’ wardrobe for 2011/12 is Stroke. You’ll probably have one too as you attempt to self-assemble this box of shite. Designer Stig Holmqvist makes a feature of using a completely different number of screws and nails on each construction – Individual! Or as we say in Sweden, ‘Förlorare!’**

 

* ABBA: For those of you who have been hibernating for the last 50 years.

** ‘Loser!

Postscript to ‘How to hang your Skrötum

A few IEKA facts:

Founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad in Sweden.

It is the World’ largest retailer of furniture.

The company name is an acronym comprising Ingvar’s initials, the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and his home parish, Agunnaryd.

IKEA products are identified by single word names. Most of the names are Swedish in origin, based on a special naming system developed by IKEA.

 

  • Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames
  • Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian place names
  • Dining tables and chairs: Finnish place names
  • Bookcase ranges: Occupations
  • Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
  • Kitchens: grammatical terms, sometimes also other names
  • Chairs, desks: men’s names
  • Fabrics, curtains: women’s names
  • Garden furniture: Swedish islands
  • Carpets: Danish place names
  • Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
  • Bedlinen, bed covers, pillows/cushions: flowers, plants, precious stones
  • Children’s items: mammals, birds, adjectives
  • Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
  • Kitchen utensils: foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries, functional descriptions
  • Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks: colloquial expressions, also Swedish place names

So now you know!

© Andy Daly 2011  The views expressed are not necessarily those of the author

One Size Fits All Joke

I thought you might like to amuse yourselves with this ‘One Size Fits All’ joke, while you wait patiently for ‘Getting A Kick Out Of Picasso’.

Instructions: Say the following (preferably to an audience)

“Hey, this pasta isn’t ‘al dente’ … ” Then add punchline provided … “Its Al Pacino”

It may work best if you can use it in some stereotypical Italian/pasta context, but this is not essential. Give it a try yourself, now. First-timers, take  it slowly. It’s trickier than it looks. Remember that the key to greatiming comedy is.

All done? Wonderful. Now below is your introductory set of punchlines. Use them as you see best: where you think they will get the most laughs.

Or, don’t use them at all. Think of your own punchlines. It’s even more fun

“Hey, this pasta isn’t ‘al dente’ It’s:

Al Jolson    Al Gore    Al Murray     al-Qa’ida    Aldi

Alcoholics Anonymous    Al Green (‘Let me say that si-i-i-ince, since we’ve been together…etc’)

Al day and al of the night    Al Jancovic (Man is he weird)    Alabama

Al Di Meola    Ali float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee    Ali Baba and his 40 corrupt British Politicians

Al Capone (‘guns don’t argue …’)    Aluminium    Al get that later

Bollocks to this I’m off to bed.