It is morning, and whilst lying in bed, awake waiting for my tablets to kick in, I hear my youngest son in the bathroom (next door) going through his daily gargling routine, This lasts for about 4 minutes:

“scruckshelishelcquerlupwaschushashushscruckshelishelcquerlupwaschushas hushscruckshelishelcquerlupwaschushashushscruckshelishelcquerlupwas chushashushscruckshelishelcquerlupwaschushashushscruckshelishelcquer

lupwaschushas hushscruckshelishelcquerlupwaschushashushscruckshelishe

lcquerlupwaschushashush  …..aaaahhhhgglllleee aaaahhhhgglllleee

aaaahhhhgglllleee  (this is the back of the throat bit)


Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!…………..pwryyyrrtt! (this is the spit)

……………….Heeeeeeeuuuugh! …. pwryyyrrtt!” (another spit)

I am thinking, I’ve got a drum and bass line that would go perfectly with that.

He’s got a routine for everything: a brushing teeth routine, the mouthwash routine (as you now know) the anti-perspirant spray routine (not one to be caught in the middle of )  The ‘don’t care hair’ routine. You know, I never knew it took so long to perfect that ‘Just dragged through a hedge’ look. Still, …. He is worth it.

Meanwhile, back in bed, I practise my rigorous exercise routine. I open and close my right eye five times, then repeat with the left. As they say: No pain, no gain. That done, I cast one of the aforesaid eyes (the left – as it happens) to the other side of the room and it alights on my walking frame. Okay, it’s a zimmer frame, but it has got ‘Go Faster’ stripes, metallic paint and polished chrome.  I try not to use it much; as you can see by all the washing hanging off it.

I can just imagine it:  The Harrow and Hillingdon Area Health Authority enquiry:

“Mr Daly, would you care to explain to us once again, exactly how you came to break your hip. On the day in question you didn’t use the walking frame that The Health Authority provide you with, because it was (He refers to his notes) ‘Full of washing’”

“Yes Sir, that is correct, Sir, I …………”

The truth is of course that I wouldn’t be without it. A Swiss Army Knife of mobility aids, the frame is a masterpiece of design, which as well as an aid to walking, and an excellent dryer is also my mobile multi-gym. For with a bit of creative manipulation and some imagination, and I can use it to perform a whole variety of exercises. Almost all of them safe!

A real photographic challenge: making a walking frame look cool

© Andy Daly  2011

The Big I Am

A month in the life of Yours Truly (June/July 2008) as seen through ‘Facebook’ status posts.

(Click and then use magnifying glass to enlarge if needed: See if you can spot the joins! I’ve been very lazy – should be easy!)

© Andy Daly 2010

Wiz and the D’Oyly Carte

Sorry. Slip of the keyboard. The title should read

‘Wiz and the Oily Car’

So apologies if you were expecting a bit of light Opera. Still, you may as well stay and have a read now you’re here.

On leaving  Sudbury Town Chawkey, Wiz and Yours Truly moved up from our cosy little rented semi, to the leafy environs of lovely Ruislip (pron: Raiy-slip)  heart of ‘Metroland’ –  specifically, a place called Eastcote (pron: Eastcote) –  Acacia Avenue, if you must know, where we took possession of a fine, large though dilapidated detached house. We got beautiful light, polished wooden floors, acres of space, prehistoric gas heating, a kitchen ceiling which sagged alarmingly and wilderness back and front. If nothing else, a great party venue.

Here, we  (Marión, me: a couple) Chawkey (aka  Charles Stewart Hawkey, schoolmaster of the parish of Redcar) and Wiz (aka Ian Vickers, Pirtek hydraulic hose expert originally of Nunthorpe, Middlesborough) had what, speaking for myself though I think all will agree was an idyllic, largely hilarious and very special time. A shared experience, which continues to bind us as lifelong friends.

In this damp, but sunny eccentric house which used to be rented out to US servicemen posted at the nearby West Ruislip base – which explains why the kitchen sported an immense 1960s American fridge; but not the surfeit  of motor vehicle engines buried beneath the grounds – we laughed, and laughed at  jokes – the sillier the better, tall stories, tales, and many many funny incidents, which one day I will recount in full. However here’s one to whet your appetite.

Wiz bought himself a fancy car, a white Triumph TR6. A British classic. Straight six, gleaming white, Spoked wheels, walnut dashboard, the lot. I used to love how the windows in the house rattled in their frames in response to the engine’s guttural roar. Which they often did, as the car rarely ever went anywhere.

Wiz’s TR6 as I will always remember it: Stationary

You see, what Wiz didn’t realise as he handed over his hard-earned cash for the classic car in question, was that he was in the process of buying the car for which the term ‘mechanical gremlins’ seems to have been invented.


Look at the quality. It’s a shame I never saw either of them turn

 One day Wiz says he’s got an oil leak. Not unusual: me and Chawkey both drive Ford Cortina Mk 5’s (I had graduated up from the Marina coupe by now) So someone always has an oil leak. In fact, the drive is so covered with oil it is impossible to distinguish the original ‘crazy paving’ pattern. Maybe not such a bad thing I  hear you say.

Anyroad, Wiz, having carefully observed the run of oil on the car’s underside and the distribution of droplets is of the opinion that the culprit is the rear differential. And so, one saturday he puts on his overalls and goes to work as follows. You do follow?

Well to cut a long story short, by the end of the afternoon, Wiz has reached his goal. Gingerly, he takes the differential unit away from the drive and axle assemblies and cupping it carefully, makes to empty out the oil, measure it and see how much it has lost. Highly organised throughout the afternoon’s labour (It would have cost you £420 in today’s money) Wiz has not thought about the practicalities of this aspect of the job.  What could he use to measure it? He thinks a while then goes into the kitchen, takes the kitchen measuring jug and carefully fills it with the syrupy black contents of the differential and its housing.


Wiz’s brow begins to knot. He consults his workshop manual.

“Bollocks! It’s got exactly what the manual says it should have in it” Down to the very last drop. “Errr… So it’s not leaking oil from the differential then?” I said, trying to sound helpful. “No it’s not bloody leaking from the differential then” “Oh, I wonder where …” But you can see from Wiz’s face he’s not after help from the mechanically-challenged such as Yours Truly.

So, with a heartfelt “Fuck it” Wiz re-traces his steps and re-assembles and replaces the various components. Miraculously, everything  fits, nothing is missing, and he has not been left with half a dozen parts which do not seem to have a home.

By now it is early evening. As he tidies away after his long day’s efforts, Wiz happens to open up the boot (or trunk if you prefer) of the car, to put away some scraps of fabric which he has been tearing  up to use as rags.

“You bastard!”

Not one to normally get het-up over things we are all naturally concerned as to what is the matter.

What is the matter is that Wiz has found his oil leak. It is coming from a five litre can of Castrol GTX which has upended itself and courtesy of an ill-fitting lid is slowly oozing oil which has been finding its way out of the boot and onto the axle via one of the boot drain holes!

Isn’t it great when it happens to someone else!

© Andy Daly  2010

Today’s star word: surfeit (Thanks Norm!)

Learning to Drive

Me? My dad gave me lessons on the beautiful country lanes (deathtraps) round Seascale  In the Lake District. One day, after sitting in the car for a few minutes, looking out of the windshield at clear blue skies, listening to a grinding, whirring sound as it slowed and faded: The sound (I think you’re there before me) of  front wheels that no longer have contact with a road surface, but which are running free and gradually losing momentum. They were able to do this as the fuschia Hillman Avenger .. It was the 70’s! ..  that we were sitting in had come to rest, yours truly behind the controls, at an angle of 45 degrees after taking on a dry stone wall and fence. My Dad turned to me, stiffly – It may have been the whiplash – and said. “Right! I think that’s enough of that!” We swapped places, he reversed it back onto the road and he never mentioned it again. It was however the end of my father’s tuition.

Avenger – almost the same colour!

 So it was at the age of 26 while living in Bromley by Bow in the East End of London that  I eventually learned to drive. The streets of Whitechapel, Mile End, Old Ford and Stepney being my training ground. I must confess, I had my doubts about my instructor: not because she was a woman, but because one memorable lesson she told me (This is true!) to drive up the off-slip of the A12, Blackwall Tunnel road just to the north of East India Dock road. All my instincts said ‘This doesn’t look right’ and I voiced my concern but she wouldn’t have it; till we got to the apex of the tight loop that the road makes to find two lanes of traffic bearing down on us. I think it probably prompted the quickest three point turn I’ve ever done.

My first car was a 1971 1.8 Marina coupe: GLD 967J. It was like shit off a shovel that car…. I tuned it: well fiddled with the carb jet and float – as if it made any difference. It still did what it wanted. I remember the day I bought it and went to pick it up. An icy December morning, I was also moving flats from Bow to Sudbury Town, Wembley. I had to tube it at what seemed like the crack of dawn, from Bow to Ickenham to collect it, then drive (my first solo drive!) down the A40 into and through central London back to Bow to load up, then back  through central London and A40 again to Wembley.

Look at that! 1.8 Coupe. Like poetry in motion. Sorry that should read pottery in motion

Incidentally, you know the stretch of road that runs from Kings Cross, past Euston, Baker Street and finally onto the flyover at Edgware Road? Well I’d not been driving long when one night, coming back from Hackney I managed to get from King’s Cross onto the A40, without a single red light! (Okay some were a bit amber, even slightly red-tinted…) But, honestly I stayed within the law. Mind you, I didn’t look at my speed. Couldn’t do it now of course. Too many new sets of lights. Like I said: shit off a shovel.

© Andy Daly  2010

The Things We Say. The day I met Noddy

Well, thank goodness Diff was awake – I knew he’d get it, and first too.

He did.

Dear reader, let me introduce you to Mr. Douglas Futers, Popular Music aficionado extraordinaire. He knows everything about everything and  has been to more gigs than we’ve had collective  hot dinners. He’s seen Hawkwind (‘Silver Machine’ Remember?) 742 times and is now deaf as a post.

Of course! It was Noddy Holder, the band was Slade and the record, the evergreen ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ a hit for the band first time around, Christmas 1973 (Flares, Strikes, ‘For mash say Smash’ and Advocaat)

If you didn’t know, and although you probably really couldn’t give a shit, I’m going to tell you anyway; the story is that this seasonal ditty which has etched its way into our national consciousness, along with Turkey, old St. Nick and Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’ was in fact recorded over a blistering hot week in New York, late summer of that year. Apparently, Lennon (that’s John, Liverpool, musician not Aaron, Spurs, winger) was in the next studio recording ‘Mind Games’ at the time.

The song was a hotch-potch of snippets that Nod and Jim Lee had lying around. They were given the final touch, it is reported when (I love this …)  Nod “After an evening out drinking worked through the night at his mother’s house in Walsall to write the lyrics, which he completed in one draft.” You see? a genuine slice of British Popular Culture. Bowie, meantime, earnestly doing his Willliam Burroughs’ ‘cut-ups’ must have been wondering where he went wrong.

Anyway, it just so happens that last week I had occasion to be in Birmingham. We took our eldest up there so he could attend an Open Day at Aston University, which is, in case you don’t know slap-bang in the centre of town. Wouldn’t have been my choice personally, it has to be said. To me, Brum has always been where people speak with a speech impediment rather than an accent; A place to be avoided at all costs, using one of the myriad motorways which appear designed expressly for such a purpose.

Anyway, we drop Laddo off, and from where, when we’ve turned the corner, he makes for the lecture theatre to hear all about International Business with Spanish. Or, if he were more like me at that age, make for the nearest pub, to really start ‘getting the taste’ for the West Midlands and the good folk therein.

We’re left with a couple of hours to kill, and as we’re over the road from the ‘Bullring’ Birmingham’s infamous shopping centre we decide to nip in and take a look. Well: pleasantly surprised is the reaction. They’ve made a damned fine job of re-inventing the ‘old’ Bullring which I last saw in about 1979, and was, let’s face it not only an eyesore, but an earsore, armsore and legsore it was so bad. Not so today. In fact it looks like every other modern shopping centre in whatever city or town you care to mention.

I was still pondering this transformation in the Bullring gents toilets, whilst drying my hands. I was using one of these new-fangled blown air hand driers. Similar to,  but not the Dyson airblade, it looked like an open letterbox in the wall. And, it was pretty pathetic: a brief vision passed before my eyes of the Facia of this thing being removed to reveal two wheezing old men blowing through it from behind. This nightmarish thought was soon banished by an awareness that someone was standing behind me…

I turned and looked. It was only Noddy Holder! The owner of the best pair of lungs this side of the Mississippi Delta!

What to say? I can’t come over all fawning fan – I’m nearly 50: No, no, no that won’t do. What about a ‘cooler’ approach? Drop in a ‘Blokey’ comment which might initiate a conversation.

That’s it! I figured.

Of all the things I could have said or asked him – such as ‘What was it really like to work with Dave Hill?’

‘Why the Mirror Hat, Nod? and how did you keep it on?’

Failing that, ”Ere Noddy, you know when Don Powell lost his memory, were there ever things you told him that hadn’t happened, just for a laugh?

No, of all the things … What do I venture forth with?

    “These hand driers are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard”

He looked at me and snorted a snort which was somewhere half way between ‘Yeah’ and ‘What the **** are you talking about?’ – I’m still analysing it.

….and made his way out.

Moral of the story: Be prepared! Get a notebook, list everyone famous you would like to meet. Add 2 or 3 questions for each and carry it round with you at all times!

© Andy Daly  2010

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

Recurring Dream

I am concerned. I had another strange dream last night, in which I had to make another life size version of a popular London landmark. This time  it was the Hoover building using flatpack components from boxes marked MFI!

© Andy Daly  2010