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, 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’


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



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

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

Dad to the rescue

My Dad is generally considered a safe pair of hands.

And rightly so.

After a lifetime spent in schools he has survived the slings and arrows of outrageous children (and one or two teachers) and remains to this day enthusiastic about Teaching. He enjoys being in the company of other people and is naturally inquisitive and quick-witted. He is fascinated by language and the links and connections that can be traced from one tongue to another. He will talk with anyone, especially if they speak a language other than English. He is brave and cool under pressure as demonstrated for instance as a younger man, in his climbing exploits and on the countless expeditions and treks he led or accompanied. As I have said before, I would have followed  him (and still would) to the ends of the earth without once feeling the need to look up and check whether he knew where we were going. However, once or twice, on occasions which hold legendary status in family annals, his ‘superhero cape of invincibility’ has got caught in the revolving door of human frailty.

He won’t thank me for this, but I’m going to share two examples with you.

Once upon a time we had a Vauxhall Viva. (Now there’s a sentence I never guessed I’d find myself writing)  Dreadful car. Looked a bit like a filing cabinet mounted onto a Wickes’ trolley. Me and my two brothers would sit in the back where, particularly on long car journeys we would pass the time by wrestling with each other. After which we would then wrestle with our own particular levels of travel sickness. A major cause of this, I was convinced were combustion fumes, which came up through the small exposed areas  between the gear lever and handbrake. Even with the windows open, this petro-chemical fug persisted  and was not eased by the clouds of tobacco smoke which billowed at regular intervals from the front of the car. My Dad was a heavy smoker (probably 40 a day) My Mum meanwhile, would have the odd one or two at the weekend, saint’s days, weddings, christenings etc.

 That’s it! That’s the bloody thing.

Vauxhall Viva 90 ‘De-luxe  Red’ (?) 1966

So we had this Vauxhall Viva. It began to cause us problems when one day it just stopped. On investigation, my Dad concluded it was  a fault with the fuel pump. Every now and then the vehicle would begin to lose revs, splutter then stop.

My dad had it sorted, all he needed to do whenever it happened, was remove the pipe from the carb feed, get his mush around it and suck the reluctant fuel from the pipe, initiating flow then re-attach: in much the same way as you might syphon off fuel from a vehicle (Oh yes, if any of my dad’s escapades resulted in useful skills/knowledge we were quick to assimilate. Nothing was ever lost. For instance this little gem of practical know-how proved exceptionally popular among my mates when we wanted to see if we could drive the JCB on a nearby building site and needed fuel to accomplish our goal)

While My Dad performed his mechanical wizardry, we would sit in the car, waiting with an uncomfortable mixture of  pity and eager anticipation of the “Yeeeuuck!” and spitting that followed and which signalled a mouthful of 4 star; but more importantly, that we would soon be on our way again.

We put up with this for about a month or so until one day my Dad decided, probably on the back of an outburst from my Mum, to do something about it.

My memory is clear, I can see the car parked on the driveway of our house, which incidentally had been inexplicably christened ‘El Genina’ by its previous owners.  After some exhaustive research recently I managed to find out that this mysterious name carved into the substantial chunk of wood that to this day, hangs on the right hand, front of the house means ‘The Genina’

Just on the left here

It was getting cold and light was fading. Why my Dad was attempting the repair so late in the day I don’t know. What I do know is that immediately he hit a stumbling block.

I am probably imagining this, but it seemed in our house, there were never any spare batteries for any of the implements, tools or toys which required them. Consequently when he went to the garage to grab a torch he found none of them working. However, as he turned to leave, his eyes happened on a box of candles, from which he took one, then a box of Swan Vesta matches from the drawer in the kitchen. He then went out into the quickly fading afternoon light.

I guess by five minutes later I was warming my chilled hands on fairly robust flames which were licking their way out of the engine recess of the Vauxhall Viva on the drive outside our house.

‘Quick phone the Fire Brigade!’

Shouted my Dad, presumably to my Mum, because that’s exactly what she did. In fact, I’ve a sneaking suspicion she began dialling as soon as she realised that he had taken a candle with him. In the meantime we had the fire under control, smothering it until finally it was extinguished. Quick thinking.

The candle, as you may have predicted, although undoubtedly in its element on a table with half a dozen place settings, or  to create a bit of atmosphere; on an altar with bread and wine, was not best suited to such close work of a mechanical nature. Or being in such a cramped space, where everything was liberally coated with petroleum, in air that hung heavy with fuel vapour.

Besides which, the bloody thing fell over before he had even started and went skittling down between the fuel pump and engine block.

‘What’s that? ….’ In the far distance, a siren.

‘Oh bloody hell it’s the Fire Brigade: Tell them it’s OK it’s all under control.’

Now I don’t know whether you are aware, but once the Fire Brigade log a call, they have to attend, regardless whether the emergency has been dealt with, and only when satisfied there is no further danger, can they return to the station. Sensible protocol, I have to admit. However, when you’ve got a fire tender, with the harsh noise of its diesel engine, (which they have left running, as they have the flashing blue lights:) its crew standing around on the pavement outside your house, and the whole neighbourhood out to watch the spectacle, you can’t help wishing they’d just disappear.

Much to our embarrassment, the whole  Son et lumière experience not only continues, but it gets worse.

‘Can we have a word Sir?’ a couple of the senior fire officers take my Dad to one side. My guess is it is not to confirm his entry in this year’s ‘Fire Safety’ awards.

‘Oh shite, here’s another one. We’ll never live this down’

A Fire Engine: In case you have forgotten what they look like

A second tender pulls up, the growling beast blocking the road now, causing even more disturbance. Its crew leap down. They huddle with the remainder of crew one, and talk conspiratorially, the occasional guffaw (I assume at my Dad’s expense) punctuating the evening air. Blue lights flicker, radio crackles. After what seems like days, in a flash, the firemen leap in, engines rev and they are gone. Leaving a street full of twitching curtains and diesel fumes in their wake.

To this day my Dad has never mentioned what it was the firemen said to him about his ‘candle capers’

And I’ve never asked.

‘Phew! That was close’ he said, finally after they had gone, looking uncannily like  Groucho Marx, an oily black smear across his
top lip, his eyebrows, black singed  and shapeless. All that was missing was the cigar …..

…. Christmas that same year, or it might have been the one before, or the one after; it doesn’t really matter. He had the cigar. It was definitely Christmas, because that was the only time he ever smoked cigars, and it was usually when my uncle and family came over to visit. He always brought cigars and thus, sets the backdrop to our second tale.

In which my Dad is smoking a cigar.

I love the smell of cigar smoke. To me it is Christmas.  I would watch intently as my uncle slowly and deliberately went through the ceremony of lighting up. (After first offering one to my Dad of course) To begin, he would prepare his ‘tools’: His cigar cutter – he favoured a guillotine type, with which he would remove the cap, which is the round piece of tobacco glued to the head to keep the wrapper together. The cap is added, during the hand-rolling process to keep it from unraveling and drying out. Matches – good quality; not paper matches or those on which the sulphur burned overlong.

Cigars are hygroscopic in nature. This means that they will, over time dry out when in a dry climate or absorb moisture in a humid one, and they continue to do so until their own moisture content matches that of the  ambient climate around them. A damp cigar will not burn properly. It will be difficult to draw on. The smoke may become too dense leaving the smoker with a sour taste and a rank aroma. Never mind his companions. A dry cigar, meanwhile, will burn too hot. the combustion temperature will be too high and the smoke hot and acrid  against the palate. Lost will be many of the subtle nuances of flavour; the smoke (and sometimes even the smoker) may become overly aggressive.  So they had to be right.  The cigar should not be too soft or squishy, it should only “give” a little. Neither should it be too dry or fragile. He would slowly roll the big Cuban between his thumb, index and forefingers, holding the cigar to his ear he would listen for the faint cracking sound which affirmed that it was in tip-top condition. Satisfied, he would then tap it and unwrap it … or was that the Terry’s Chocolate Orange? (I don’t know. I’m bloody making it up as I go along as usual.)

Anyway, whatever … It had a touch of class about it, back then in what was otherwise the cheap plastic/ K-Tel/ Watney’s Red Barrel/ Brentford Nylons mess known as ‘the early 1970s.’ The perfumed smoke spiralled and eddied around our front room and carried us off, away to exotic foreign climes. On return from which, us kids: me, my brothers and my cousins formed a disorderly queue to ‘have a drag’ which, of course was almost enough to make us throw up on the spot, but not before each of  us in turn had gone through a palette of sickly greens and greys. ‘Subtle nuances of flavour’? I thought – or would have done if I had known what it meant. ‘ That’s awful’. Which is why I to this day, love the smell of cigar smoke … as long as someone else is smoking them.

Slowly roll  between thumb, index and forefingers, listen for the faint cracking sound which affirms that it is in tip-top condition.

Then the Cretins descended upon us. The Cretins were a thoroughly disagreeable family from two doors down, who thought nothing about inviting themselves in and ransacking your house and spoiling whatever it was you were doing. Smart arse, whingeing, four-eyed, buck-toothed, no-neck little shit-cake bakers, they were all of them Gobshites, as we say in Old English. As I recall, there were three boys, possibly two of them twins. And a dopey sister. She was just as bad as the boys, only three weeks behind.

I remember being outside their house one time. The elder – Richard or maybe Nicholas was arguing with a younger brother over something minor and trivial, as the younger lad made to walk away, his sibling carefully and deliberately stuck out his foot to trip him over. Which he did, falling literally flat on his face. As he lifted his head up off the road (It was horrible really, but pure Tom and Jerry) and started that familiar deep inhalation which signalled an ear-curdling wail was on its way, I noticed to my horror that his two (new) front teeth were lying, snapped off like two pieces of chewing gum – fresh out of the pack on the tarmac before him

‘You bafftard’ he shouted after his vile brother, who was fast-disappearing  into the distance.

My cousins looked nonplussed as the Cretins took over. It seemed they wanted to play ‘Top Dog!’ A simple enough game, it was one they had invented themselves and entailed each in turn going through a list of their Christmas presents in order to decide ‘Who got the best stuff’ and whoever did – usually one of them – was winner or ‘Top Dog!’

Some five minutes later, Nicholas or maybe Richard was duly announced ‘Top Dog!’ by none other than himself. At their insistence we moved on to another version of the game in which ‘other significant possessions’ acquired during the course of the year were examined in the same way. This was one step too far for our relatives, who at this at this point bailed out.  Unfortunately, I for my part was not doing too well. My stuffed Jackdaw and birds’ egg collection had failed to ignite much interest. And while my signed photo of Barry Sheene was enough to raise a couple of eyebrows and reveal some buck teeth, it simply wasn’t in the same league as the sleek, formula 1 styled go cart, and Raleigh Chopper of the Cretins. However, the fishing tackle belonging to my brothers had a big impact. They demanded to see more.

In order to score the maximum visual effect, we decided to lay everything out in the front room so they might get a better view. This also meant that the handsome wicker fishing kreel (robust box or basket which serves to carry one’s gear, and once fishing, something sit upon.) could be emptied, fully inspected and admired.

Much in the style of a ‘table top’ jumble or car boot sale, all the items were presented on the carpet in their full glory. Reels, line, lead shot and ledgers, disgorger, bait tins, hooks, flies and spinners. Spinners! those ingenious devices of painted or enamelled metal or wood, designed so that when dragged through the water by the ‘reeling in’ action of the fisherman, they mimic the colouring, marking and most clever of all, the movement characteristics of small fish or water animals in order to catch a bigger fish.

Spinner. Looks great. We never caught anything with them.

‘Let us look’ screeched a Cretin and snatched the Spinner I happened to be holding, and which was tied to a line (and rod) ready to fish. ‘Wassis?’ He demanded, so I explained.

It was a close call, but in the end, there was no doubt: A Scalextric, Subbuteo (with floodlights) plus an Action Man with a German uniform. We had no chance. Richard or Nicholas was pronounced winner and immediately demanded his ‘prize’. What prize? There was a long pause, followed by that familiar deep inhalation which signalled an ear-curdling wail was on its way. ‘Oh your Prize …. Ahhhh, Now then ..’  I hesitated, then suddenly had a great idea. In keeping with smoking etiquette, my Dad and my Uncle had left long butts on their now-extinguished cigars. Of course  it is deemed to be bad form’ to smoke the cigar so that it burns close to its head. Each still had a good  four inches of  ‘smokeable’ tobacco’ . I glanced at the remnants in ash trays on the table. My brothers seemed to have cottoned on. It didn’t take long to convince the Cretins that with their ‘prize’  they had struck smoking gold. With a handful of matches, they were packed off home with their ‘prize’, via the back of next door’s garage, where, (as we hoped) they ‘sparked up’ the cigar butts. Now they may have been experienced cigarette smokers, but they were unprepared for the searing, burning of their throats and lungs, when as we had instructed them, they drew the cigar smoke in as deep as they could and held it. Whereupon each of  them in turn went through a palette of sickly greens and greys and threw up.

Of course you don’t, as a rule, inhale cigar smoke.

Later that afternoon, my Dad and my Uncle indulged themselves in a second cigar.

Once again the room became host to the spirals and eddies of thick tobacco smoke. But he post-meal quietude was suddenly shattered with a curse and a yelp of pain. My younger brother was hopping about, one foot in the air.  Oh bugger! The fishing tackle! One of the Cretins had left a ‘spinner’ on the carpet. It was the ‘business-end’ of one of these handsome objects consisting of three hooks, which was now tightly embedded in my brother’s foot and source of all the mayhem.

After lengthy attempts to remove it (unsuccessfully) and a lot of cursing by my brother (successfully, in as much as he selected appropriate words – some of which we didn’t even know he knew, and used them in an appropriate context) the only solution was a visit to Casualty concluded my Dad.

So my brother was bundled up in a blanket, injured foot hanging out and some 6 inches or so of fishing line (now cut from the rod you will be pleased to know) dangling from the offending hook and carried out to the car, nobly by my Dad, second cigar still clenched between his lips/teeth, much in the manner of an American comic-book war hero. Once alongside the car (yes, that’s the self-same Vauxhall Viva we all know and love.) my Dad, carefully stoops down to hand my lame sibling into the vehicle. However, as he does so, to add insult to injury – or more properly injury to injury – his cigar end is brought into sudden and painful contact with the forehead of my stricken brother, causing a handsome burn as it does so.

‘Not to worry …’ assures my Dad ‘… They can look at it while they do your foot’

Whereupon, he climbs in, shuts the door and starts the car. It fires up, he backs out of the driveway, and with a glance back at my brother to check his condition, my Dad puts his foot down: destination Hospital. At which the car loses revs, begins to splutter and stops …

© Andy Daly 2011

Pic Credits: Google Earth,,,

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, 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.

Situated close to what was HMS Pembroke on Lime Grove, an outstation of the wartime Bletchley Park codebreaking operation, this damp, but sunny eccentric house 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. During our time there 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 First published 11/06/2010

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

My Mate Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s my Wednesday afternoon.

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


© Andy Daly 2011




Wonders will never cease.

I once taught a boy called Roque (Pron. ‘Rrro – keh’) He insisted, as did his mother too, that it was to be pronounced ‘Rocky’ (as in ‘Balboa’  – Stallone, you remember?  The film about the boxer … the one with the music) Well this lad Roque was a real shit. Very bright, but extremely disruptive.  He was skilled at orchestrating chaos. I had loads of bust ups with him over the years and had to withdraw him from numerous lessons in the department. He was always in trouble, and it was always something unpleasant: like bullying, or swearing at a member of staff. He was no Artful Dodger, no ‘loveable’ villain. He was a nasty piece of work; and from the ‘knowing glances’ he would now and again shoot you, he knew it and revelled in it

He wasn’t my favourite character, I have to say. I didn’t like teaching him or as a result, sadly, the class he was in. I just grit my teeth before every lesson and went into battle, trying never to lose my sense of humour. The Parkinson’s was begining to ‘bite’ by then, so it was difficult. I wasn’t what I once was. However, I do remember on his last day at school, he insisted on having a picture taken with me – much to his friends’ astonishment (and mine!)

When they sneeringly asked why, he just said ‘Oh he’s alright he is …’

Anyway, it comes up just before Christmas time that I am at the local petrol station. I’ve just put my twenty quids worth in (They don’t bother with the pumps nowadays – they just leave a thimble next to the tank and let you get on with it ) when I noticed said Roque (pron ‘Rocky’) inside the shop. He had just paid and was about to leave. I was very self-conscious because I was a bit ‘Dyskinetic’ (fidgety uncontrolled movements; a Parkinson’s drug, Leva-Dopa side effect,) nevertheless I plough on.

“How’re you doing?” He says, genuinely pleased to see me “You’ll never guess what I’m doing” He was right. I couldn’t. “I’m at uni” He said proudly. “Good for you” I said, genuinely pleased, which I was.

“Yeah” He says, “It’s really hard, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick it out, but I’m going to try” (I’m not altogether sure to what he was referring here – the work, the drinking, the late nights …) He asked about me, so I told him about the Parkinson’s, the early retirement, the battles with drug side effects People only ever ask me  once. He listens intently.

“That’s bad news, I’m really sorry. You know, you were alright, you. I’m really sorry”

Then suddenly out of the blue, he hugs me! … Not a limp, insipid hug – like a wet raincoat, but a robust, manly, thumping on the back to signal It’s ‘Time To Release’ sort of hug.

And with that he was gone! The cashier had to come out from behind the till, slap my fallen jaw back up into place and take my twenty quid. It was a good five minutes before I could move. Amazing!

Wonders will never cease.

© Andy Daly  2010

McEnroe and Borg

On the afternoon of one of the great McEnroe/Borg finals,  me and My Best Mate Aky spent a side-splitting  afternoon in the off licence he ran on Seven Sisters Road,  coming up with the definitive tabloid headline for the following day’s editions.

Winner was (I’ll never forget it)

                          “Ice Borg sinks Mac the Strife in Titanic struggle”

© Andy Daly  2010

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

Kwik Kwiz

 Who’s biggest hit single was recorded at the Record Plant in New York, late summer 1973. Unhappy with the first recording, they re-did the choruses  in the corridor outside because of its more favourable acoustics.

I need lead singer/guitarist’s name….  No looking it up on Wikipedia!

Answers please by the end of play Monday and I’ll tell you a little story …