And another thing.


What the fuck happened?

Last week all the male models, footballers and  celebrities that people our dull lives were clean shaven and facially well groomed. This week everyone is wearing varying amounts of silly face lace. Or so it seems.

I have looked forward to the resurgence of the fashion for facial hair on men with the same kind of lumpen dread I have awaited the return of Loon Pants and Feather Cuts.

I’ve got to come clean. I hate  beards.  There is something inherently wrong with them; as if the wearer has something to hide (perhaps bits of leftover breakfast, like Roald Dahl’s Mr. Twit.)


And what about the Upside Down Heads?

You know.

Those who insist on shaving their heads while growing luxuriant facial hair, giving the viewer the disconcerting feeling that their heads have been inverted.

For my sins I have never allowed more than a few days growth to accumulate since I was 17. The longest I have been without a shave is when I was in hospital in 2011; when I learned to my horror that despite an (almost) full head of hair which is still (almost) its original colour, my ‘beard’ was whiter than a polar bear using Daz in a snowstorm.

A  freind posted on Facebook recently

‘Should I trust a man who refuses home-baked cake?’

My reply was unequivocal.

‘Absolutely not. I’ll bet his hair doesn’t blow about when it’s windy either’

‘Andy, he doesn’t have any hair. but he has a beard’

I rest my case.
© Andy Daly 2014

I hate it when that happens

Warning. This post contains some bad language and scenes of mild to moderate bloody gore.

May not be suitable for those of a nervous disposition.

Ah! fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck  fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

I’ve bitten my tongue.

I hate it when that happens.

Andy Daly 2013

And now especially for you, here’s the weather X X X

And another thing…

What in the wide wide world of sports is going on? Just what is it that makes the current crop of TV presenters, particularly weather reporters and those fronting documentary programmes think that it is acceptable to address the viewing public as though we are stone-deaf retards?

Condescending delivery with certain words painfully enunicated at volume as though they were shouting down some deaf dowager’s ear trumpet is a characteristic trait. “RAIN … tomorrow … It’s going to RAIN!” – Peter Cockroft of BBC South East’s weather team being by far the worst offender.

Then there is the ‘Sexing up’ of  what would otherwise be agreeably dull documentaries by a team of academic ‘pin ups’ Exciteable  media-savvy types such as Neil ‘the hair’ Oliver (hon. Phd) , Dr Alice ‘Breathless’ Roberts, Prof. Brian ‘Big Bang’ Cox over-enthuse like children’s TV presenters (imagine the Blue Peter studio full of puppies)

Big Bang

Big Bang





We are hooked and reeled in by same with the promise of the revelation of long-hidden secrets. Well when I finally do see a documentary which really does tell me something I  don’t already know about the Valley of the Kings, I swear I will eat my Doc Marten boots: Bouncing soles and all.

Is there a special department of the BBC which trains them all to be so intolerably enthusiastic, in the same way BBC announcers were coached in the dark art of Received Pronunciation back in the 40s and 50s?

Thank Goodness for Mary Beard.

Copyright Andy Daly 2013


I feel compelled to not let Baroness Thatcher’s passing go unremarked.

Iron Lady. Rust In Peace

Iron Lady. Rust In Peace

So I’ll sum up my feelings by recounting a little tale about my dear old Mum.

Before I was born, in the late ‘50s my Mum was a social worker in the North West. She had a big patch and drove her Ford Popular to get to her appointments. (A bit like ‘Call the Midwife’ on four wheels) Back then, social work wasn’t tarnished with the brush of scandal and incompetence that rightly or wrongly it has been in recent years. All the same, it was about tackling poverty and deprivation and trying to improve the conditions for society’s most vulnerable.

After stopping work to have the family and a hip-replacement operation, she retrained to be a Primary School teacher, first in Greater Manchester and later in the poorest area of Whitehaven, in the shadow of Haigh pit and the Marchon chemical works.

She hated Thatcherism and its uncaring, hectoring style. I knew that from the way she would answer back to the news on radio and TV. But she never discussed her own politics. To this day I don’t know how she voted.

Anyway, the year is 1982 or thereabouts, in the run up to local elections. Mid morning one day there was rat-tat at our front door. I was upstairs and heard my Mum go to answer it.


‘Good Morning, Madam. Lovely day’

There seemed to be two visitors on the doorstep. I listened on.

‘I wonder whether we might be able to count on your vote in the forthcoming election?’

‘And you are ..?’

Well, it was the Tory candiate, long-forgotten; while the other introduced himself as one Piers Merchant, a young Tory smoothie and unsuccessful candidate for Newcastle Central in 1979. Presumably Central Office were allowing him to hone his campaigning skills ready for the next general election campaign.

‘May we ask what line of work you or your husband are in then we can give you an idea of some of the ways the Conservative Party are going to be able to transform your lives?’

‘As it happens we are both in Education’

‘Ah! Schools’ said Merchant ‘A subject close to Mrs. Thatcher’s heart and one that I think you will find the Conservative Party …’

‘What does she know about schools?’

Talk about ‘lighting the blue touchpaper!’ For a good fifteen minutes, my Mum laid into them, wiped the floor with them in fact, on every aspect of Tory policy Education, Health, Energy, Tax, The Falklands. I listened on in glee, getting prouder and prouder of my Mum as they got more and more uncomfortable. Eventually to resounding cheers from upstairs, she slammed the door on them and they scuttled off, tails between their legs.


Piers Rolf Garfield Merchant got his wish and was elected to parliament representing Newcastle Central in the 1983 election. He lost his seat in1987. He returned to parliament as MP for Beckenham in 1992. His resignation was precipitated by the ‘Sleeze Merchant’ Affair in which the married MP was photographed and filmed in what are generally referred to in these cases as ‘compromising situations’ with a 17 year old Soho based ‘Hostess’. In 2005, he was the UKIP candidate for the Torrington Rural ward in the Devon County Council election, but finished fourth of the four candidates.

The point being of course that the Iron Lady image was a myth perpetrated by the likes of spineless lackeys like Merchant. In overcoming adversity, battling a lifetime of ill health (not that often you would know it) my Mum was an Iron Lady, so was her Mum, and My Best Mate Aky’s Mum. And Jackie and Jane and Caroline …


Waste Of Ink

I can’t help help feeling partly responsible for this. As those who know me will attest, many is the time I have droned on to anyone who will listen extolling the virtues of tattoos and tattooing – particularly since having mine done on October 14th 1983, by Ossie ‘The Wizard’ at his studio on Byker Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne. I don’t know about ‘The Wizard’ bit: he looked more like a washed-up darts player. It cost £5.00. It should have been £7.50 but ‘The Wizard’ didn’t have change.

What is it? Well, it is a rose on my left shoulder. Not terribly good really, but it strikes a nice balance between the raffish old-fashioned Portsmouth back-street style of tatoo, and a more modern sensibility in which my rose (or red cabbage – it depends on how I’m holding my arm) becomes symbolic: of fidelity and honour – my talisman.

Which brings me back to my point. Why are there so many crap tattoos around? These days it is rare to see an untarnished body, one without some dreadful scrawl on it: dainty risqué  scars on female ankles, hips and shoulders. Lads with tribal black patterns, they have no understanding of but which seem to hint at “I went to Tahiti, and all I got was this stupid tattoo”or” I’m with dickhead”.

When you see real tattoo mastery, the Japanese Irezumi, for instance, where the tattoo, its imagery and execution over musculature are ineluctably bound with the social and political stance of its wearer – or at least it was during its heyday of the 1850s and 60s. Much of today’s ‘flash’ (pre-prepared designs which usually decorate a studio walls, and which the client selects, usually by number) pales into insignificance.

I am reminded of a lachrymose Scot who happened to be in the bed next to me when I was in hospital for my last bunch of surgery. As he tearfully explained to the surgeon. His main concern, despite the severity of the operation was not haemorrhage, infection, or possible paralysis, but the thought that the scarring would ruin the tattoo on his neck. He was delighted to find on regaining consciousness and his subsequent return to the ward from the recovery room that his fears had been unfounded.

His tattoo? It was a series of dashes which formed a line around his neck, a small image of a pair of scissors and the legend “Cut Here”.

Cut here

Virgin on the bloody ridiculous!

“You’ll have to get me on the mobile. It’s not a good phone – so don’t get your expectations too high.” I told my Dad.
The phone’s knackered you see. Has been since thursday when it began to issue strange-sounding beeps and bleeps.

Or … to be perfectly accurate about it the phone is fine. What is actually knackered, as the twelve year old engineer that Virgin Media sent round on Monday morning, still apparently hungover, patiently explained to me is:

“Your cable from the cabinet to here. It’s damaged.”

I was confused … but the wiring for the phone doesn’t go anywhere near the cabinet I thought, looking around the room; it comes in through the wall in the front room, and immediately to the phone’s  base unit (It’s cordless)

For the uninitiated, a ‘Cabinet’ is a secure (at least in theory) piece of street furniture, which allows Virgin Media and their technicians, as well as those of other service providers, access to the cabling, junctions and switching for that particular street or area. Occasionally … No, thinking about it … often you see these green or grey cabinets open (left so by sloppy engineers, or prized open by the local hoodlums – who knows?) Funnily enough the one nearest us is currently in such a state; multi-coloured spaghetti and great dizzy Afros of intricate wiring billow happily from the inside.

Some idea of what they look like. A BT cabinet

So. Diagnosis: Damage to  the service supply cable between ‘the Cabinet,’and our property

The Year 9 engineer gave us an estimate of waiting time for repair – about a month! What? I was astonished. I explained  about the Parkinson’s and how it leaves me immobile numerous times, daily and that therefore, when fingers are too affected to use a mobile phone in emergency, I rely on a push-button pendant I wear around my neck, which links to a receiver and via an organisation known as ‘Careline’ allows you to raise the alarm in an emergency. It then organises appropriate help as the situation demands (For instance, they may at the user’s request phone their partner at work, asking them to go home as aid is required. Or another example, more serious. The user has a fall, leaving them injured and unable to reach medication, phone or front door. They alert ‘Careline’ who in turn call their partner, as well as additional contacts (also keyholders who could effect an entry should the partner be held up for any reason) and  the emergency services should they br required.

Of course you never think you are going to need it … Till you do … And of course ‘Careline’  naturally, needs a telephone line.

Anyway, back to Monday morning and ‘The Boy Wonder’ has an idea. He will book a date for the repair to be done, but suggests phoning Virgin Media later in the day to put my case in order to hopefully gain an earlier slot. Rinky dinky, sounds like a Plan.

And off he goes in his gaudy Virgin Media Ice Cream van, the cushions tucked under his seat and wooden blocks tied to his boot soles allowing him to see (just) over the dashboard and operate the pedals.

Of course Tinchy bloody Stryder, doesn’t get back to me to confirm a date does he? Why? why? did I trust him? Why didn’t I see out my original plan? Tie and gag him then bung him under the stairs. Hold him to ransom: full line repair and compensation for inconvenience being the only things sufficient to secure his release. It would have been all done and dusted by now.

Bloody hell. here we go:

‘Weclome to Virgin Media. We now have 5 options for you. If you want to Top Up with a voucher: Press 1 … If you want to Top Up with a credit or debit card already registered with us: Press 2 … If you are moving house or need to alter your account details: Press 3 … If you have lost, forgotten or need a new PIN number: Press 4 … If you want to be fucked about with, forced to listen to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and after ten minutes find yourself back at the main menu – where you started and no wiser: Press 5 …’


‘… or press zero to speak to a customer service advisor … ‘

Now that’s more like it. I’ve been here before and I’m no fool. Zero it is. Ten minutes later I find myself back at the main menu, having been fucked about with, forced to listen to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and no wiser:

My condition does make it difficult to make myself understood sometimes, but I found that on this occasion (and subsequently) the call centre operatives, useless. Impatient, yet Anyway, the outcome of the call was the telephone assistant was able to move the engineer’s visit date a little further forward to November 14th: still three weeks away, although she did say she would put us on the waiting list should there be any cancellations. After a second call some days later an engineer visit date was brought forward to 1st November. Progress at last!

Now, here’s a first! You are cordially invited to finish the story yourself according to one of three scenarios:

1) The second engineer  arrives and to my dismay performs the same battery of tests as his colleague, before announcing his diagnosis: Damage to service supply cable between ‘the Cabinet’ and our property. This nonsense goes on for weeks until out of the blue the cable is repaired and I am sent a wet apology by somebody in ‘Complaints’. I take the matter up  with s current Consumer Affairs programme

2) It transpires it has all along been an elaborate ploy by Virgin Media to test the ‘Brand Loyalty’ of randomly selected customers. We triumph in the South Eastern regional competition, and meet Scotland and the Borders in the Grand Final, which we also convincingly win. Our prize is a fortnight in The Bahamas.

3) Our evidence is enough to put the gang behind bars for a long, long time, and we all live happily ever after.

© Andy Daly

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.


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.

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

  • 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


Home from Spain.

Oh how nice it is to be back on English soil. Well, runway asphalt at the moment, as we wait to be transported from Gatwick’s South terminal to the North terminal.

And how wonderful to hear English spoken again;

‘Alright, can you make sure you all got your hand luggage. If you leave something I can’t come back for it, isn’t it?’

Ah! a good cup of tea. Even if it does cost the equivalent of a medium sized African state’s GDP at the North Terminal Starbucks.

Meanwhile those nutty Spaniards are tying rags to bull’s horns, which they then douse in petrol, set alight and let them and bull loose into the barricaded streets of a village, where dozens of mainly young men wait to torment the bull further while trying to evade collecting a wound that might see them bleed to death. They lost one this year!  A bull. True! It was somewhere like Fuente Espalda de los Cojones in Castilla La Mancha. One of these bulls went missing. I mean how can a 1,800 lb bull go missing for … well it was three days by the time we came home – they still hadn’t found it! – in a village of 1600 people with sealed roads? They say it’s a centuries-old tradition; so is Morris Dancing.

Given that they were well aware of the size, strength and general demeanour of their opponent you tend to feel they could have chosen garments which offered a teeny bit more protection than Shorts, vests, trainers, neckerchiefs and wristbands.

Ahhhhh! Cosy Eastenders, Corrie and X factor. Like a comfy pair of slippers.

The banter with chirpy, colourful Cockney Cab Drivers, after you ask them to take you to Ruislip from Heathrow. Now that’s entertainment.

Sensible drivers.

What about parking in Spain? Unbelievable… and when there’s a football match they park anywhere they want: on roundabouts, bus lanes, pavement corners. The police seem to do nothing. Most irresponsible.

And that’s the Old Bill themselves on a traffic island

Traffic chaos on match day Valencia

A curry!


The Queuing! There wasn’t  decent queue the whole fortnight (Apart from the one above). And what good is arriving in a shop and asking ‘Ultima Por Favour?’ Ultimate what? Hits of the eighties? TV Cops shows? How are we supposed to know?

Sainsburys/CO-OP/Morrisons/Tesco/Budgens their appetising and rich collection of produce. Food treated respectfully.

Whereas in Spain they have that stupid excuse for a  festival where all they do is throw tomatoes at each other! I ask you. With all the hunger and need on the planet; what a waste. And dangerous too. There are literally hundreds of Japanese tourists injured every year because inconsiderate participants – probably drunk – have thrown their tomatoes without even openening the tin first!

Yes, how nice it is to be back on English soil.

And the rain! God it’s good to see some rain.

And some more rain … and more: drip drip, drop drop …

Oh how nice it is to be back on ….

© Andy Daly 2011

Egg Allergy or Intolerance? It could be a matter of Life or Death

Until he was 5, our youngest son had a serious allergy to Egg. Thankfully, by the time he took the ‘Egg Challenge’ he had outgrown it. This is where in hospital, the patient is given ever-increasing amounts of the allergen under careful observation to see if at what point, and how badly they react – if they do. The most dangerous situation is when after contact with substance concerned, the body’s auto immune system starts to go badly wrong, resulting in massive and if left untreated, fatal reaction known a ‘Anaphylaxis’ or ‘Anaphylactic Shock’

As far as allergens are concerned One of the most deadly culprits is, as I am sure you know, peanuts. (Personally, I never found Shultz’s cartoon capers involving Charlie Brown and gang all that offensive; but I digress and this is no laughing matter.)

Our son’s first attack, just prior to his first birthday was sufficiently bad to warrant a ‘white knuckle ride’ to the nearest hospital and after he had been treated, prompt one of the A & E medics to  take us to one side and say “We managed today – but next time it’ll be much worse. You need to carry adrenaline, in the form of an Epipen. The Epipen, a simple auto-injector,  if administered in time, gives the patient a measured emergency dose in the form of epinephrine, which buys between 15 and 20 minutes.

Well finally we get one from the GP, despite what seemed, if not reluctance, then the impression we were being over-cautious. That summer, we are on holiday in Spain when it dawns on us. We are staying about twenty minutes drive – if you’re lucky and there’s no traffic or surly Guardia Civil in sight – from the city of Valencia. Clearly, it meant that the 15 minutes of time the Epipen buys you would be insufficient, were we to have a crisis or a suspected reaction, God forbid, anywhere outside the immediate city centre. It wouldn’t be enough to cover the driving time to ‘La Fe’ the city’s main hospital, never mind the time it would take to get to a car from where contact happened to have taken place.

So when we get back to Blighty, we go to the quacks and explain we want another one:

“You want another one?..Why?”

“Why…. Why? So we can fucking go and sell it down Wembley Market you muppet! Why do you think?”

This was 1995/6 or thereabouts. It’s hard to believe that people – including some health care professionals I have to say, were so ignorant of the dangers of severe alleregic reactions.  People confused allergy, in which, the body’s immune system is activated and in its worst cases, is life threatening; with intolerance, where the body reacts to substances it can’t process: usually because of deficiency or lack of certain enzymes. Which is unpleasant, no doubt, but rarely puts sufferers at risk.

We made a point of joining organisations and groups, to find out as much as we could about it. I was fascinated by a presentation given at Northwick Park Hospital (It must have been good if it managed to hold my attention for more than an hour in one of the most dismal places in Christendom) by Gideon Lack , Professor of Paediatric Allergy, King’s College London. He told how he belived that people are sensitised to allergens via broken or damaged skin. This insight came about through his treatment of a young girl with chronic ezcema which seemed to resist all attempts to ease it, as well as a severe allergy to latex: which defied explanation. He asked the parents to let him admit the girl and agree to being observed while they appplied her creams and emollients. Father was a dentist. When time came for his turn to cream the girl the first thing he did was put on a pair of (latex) protective gloves. Obviously, anxious to reduce the risk of causing infection to his daughter’s damaged skin, he was unwittingly, making it much worse.

And why the sudden rise of the evil peanut to status of ‘Public Enemy No: 1’? It was never like that before? I believe that in the last 20 years or so the number of sufferers from allergy to peanuts has doubled to (currently for children) one in every seventy. And how? Infantile eczema is very often the precursor. What do you do when you have dry, itchy, cracked skin? You put creams on it. What are the creams derived from? I’ll leave you to work the rest out for yourselves*

I think things are better now. Generally, people are more aware. My wife was tireless in her fight to educate people; far more alert to dangers than I was. Constantly vigilant. But you had to be. For instance, did you know that the MMR vaccine was grown in on an egg culture? Okay, maybe a remote possibilty of causing a reaction. But you don’t take that risk with somebody’s life! The number of times we got a: Well, a ‘bit’ won’t do him any harm will it?’  response in cafes, restaurants, pubs and so on.

‘Errr … Yes it will. That’s precisely the point. That little ‘bit’ could be the ‘bit’ that fucking kills him, you moron’

So here we go. Here’s an example: yes, I know this is the bit you’ve been waiting for – The Rant

(In a cafe, with the kids and a couple of their friends. They are all over the table. Everyone’s starving. Bloody nightmare. Oh no! Along comes the catering industry’s equivalent to Dappy from N-Dubz. It’s the dopey work-experience waiter)

“Can I help You?”

Hmmmmm. I think the jury are still out on that. Anyway, we bung in the order leaving no.2 son till the end.

” Now, he would like the sausages, but he has a serious allergy to egg. Do they contain any egg? ”

“Nah.They don’t have egg in ’em, you get that when you order a full English breakfast, innit”

Oh dear. It was going to a long lunchtime.

“No. What I mean is have they got egg as part of their ingredients?”

“Oh I see. I don’t thinnnnnnk so….”

He screws up his eyes and draws the menu closer to his face; as if the answer to my question is printed somewhere on it in teeny tiny writing.

“Nah. They’ll be OK”

Biting my lip and feel a twitching along the knife edge of my right hand and foot that suggests sudden and violent contact with the neck and solar plexus of the spotty retard before me.

“Yeah, you see the problem is I’m not talking about a food intolerance, I am talking about a serious food allergy, we need to categorically know (which is quite different to guess) whether or not egg has been used in the process of making the sausages – otherwise he can’t have them”

“I’ll go and ask chef”

“What a good idea…”

As he trundles off, I notice he is wearing a “How Can I Be Of Help Today?” badge. (You can be of help to me by taking a walk out that fucking door and under the nearest bus, I find myself thinking)

(5 mins later)

“He can’t find the box they were in. Y’know it’s like a big catering pack they come in. The chef dunno anything they’ve got in them … well except meat of course …. I think …. Anyway, he is pretty sure they haven’t.

(Losing patience…But still managing to come across as jovial, friendly and even-tempered: teacher training you see)

“Alright. What about the Steak and Kidney pie then?”

OKAY! One Steak and Kidney Pie comin’ up”

“No, I mean before we order we need to know if it has any egg in it?

“I shouldn’t think so…I mean what would you put an egg in a Steak and Kidney pie for?”

“I Fu……….C’mon kids let’s go to Starbucks…”

… Later that evening, I follow Spotty Retard to the “Warner Village” cinema complex where he goes to watch ‘American Pie meets Haloween’. I sit behind him and slit his throat as he noisily and greedily shovel handfuls of a 24 litre bucket of popcorn into his mouth.

See? Understanding the difference between allergy and Food intolerance really could be a matter of life and death.


* I refer here, of course to shop-bought creams and emollients, not approved pharmaceutical products


The Anaphylaxis Campaign

Allergy UK

The National Eczema Society


The Learning Early About Peanut Allergy Project

Children’s allergy specialists at Evelina Children’s Hospital, part of Guys and St. Thomas NHS Foundation Trust are conducting the LEAP Study to determine how to best prevent peanut allergy in children.

© Andy Daly  2010



Know it all

Now if anybody tells you that these days, Parkinson’s is not so terrible and that it can be easily managed with drugs, you can say nothing, but just punch them as hard as you like on the ‘Philtrum’ (Its the vertical groove or ‘channel’ we all have which runs – literally in the cases of some people – from the nose to the top lip) There are lots of nerve endings here which make it extremely painful when bopped.

With any luck, fragments of bone will be shattered away and lodge themselves in the ‘Know-It-All’s brain too.

© Andy Daly  2010