Which reminds me

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

Of course she meant epiglottis!

© Andy Daly  2010

Frostbite on Marylebone High Street

My beloved Doc Marten boots.Black, eight hole, customised with football boot laces (when the local constabulary weren’t removing them for us at gigs at the Rainbow) After a wet motorcycle pillion journey from York to Newcastle (not recommended) I melted part of the rubber sole of the right boot by resting it on the glass door of the solid fuel fire we had as I tried to thaw out.

Apart from the phhht!  sound it made when I walked, it wasn’t  a problem. Until I came down to London for my stint working for Victoria Wine, Marylebone High St. in the week running up to Christmas; during which in 1980 (for ‘twas then )  it snowed, leaving quite a covering for a few days, even in central London, There was I, from dawn till dusk wheeling my barrow laden with cases of wine, crates of champagne, boxes of mixers, bottles of babycham, Advocaat and VAT 69 over the snow-covered streets for all the office parties* that were taking place. One foot getting noticeably colder than the other. Close inspection revealed the cause. As I walked, snow entered through the puncture in my right boot, filling the void that was the air cushion and packing itself into a hard, freezing sole- shaped lozenge. Anxious to save money (as the point of the exercise was to earn money to buy presents) I persevered for two days, after which I could bear it no more and bought a new pair. Could this be the closest anyone has got to frostbite in central London?

*Not as tiresome as it may sound. The shop had some very interesting customers: EMI Manchester Square being one; Hughie Green another. Mind you, for Hughie, meeting me was sadly lacking the impact I might have hoped for. I was let into the flat by his butler/housekeeper, shown through the lounge, past the sofa, on which Hughie was lain, wearing a grey shirt, open to the waist and and shorts, slobbering in a deep sleep (in which he remained for the whole of our encounter) to the kitchen, where I left his (sizeable) order.

Houston You got a problem?

We were at the dinner table one evening, talking school with the boys. Thankfully, this has always been a thoroughly pleasurable experience: They do like to talk about school especially since they have both been at secondary – they tend to ‘bounce’ stories off each other. Occasionally, you get some utter gems, such as this one.

Ian told us this about his Year 9 Science teacher ‘Miss Houston’. Miss seems a bit dizzy from what he’s already told us. You get the feeling that she’s not really fully in control. She is Greek, apparently, talks in a high-pitched singy-songy voice, and asks the kids “Houston gotta problem?” (As in Houston, Texas, Mission Control: “Houston we gotta problem”) when she thinks they are stuck.

Well, it comes about it’s a hot, tedious afternoon, almost time for home, but that bell is just far enough away to make it feel like an eternity. They are studying human reproduction and are labelling diagrams in their books as she points out for them the various key features. They are scribbling away with the parts of  the male reproductive system. They get to ‘Scrotum’ which she points out on the diagram and as they continue to write, heads down, suddenly, and to no-one in particular, she announces:

“Ahhh! ‘Scrotum’ I love the way it rolls off your tongue!”

(I swear this is true: we had the tale independently verified…)

The kids carried on writing, then it slowly began to dawn on…. first one or two…then a few more: what she had actually said. However, because of the directness with which she said it, coupled with the fact that the import of what she had actually said had only slowly made itself apparent to the class, right at the very end, there wasn’t a big fuss over it in the lesson. Many of them were packing away or had left the class, before someone or other said “Did she really say what I think she said?”

Well, after I’d recovered my composure (it was one of those cases where eventually you get to laughing at other people laughing. and Ian’s laugh is the most infectious ever..Oh God , I was in bulk…) Well, I was horrified and impressed in equal measure. Ian had, in fact already told my wife in the car after she’d picked him and James up. She nearly went off the road in hysterics, James thought she was having a fit, she eventually pulled up.

Well, as we got to hear more and more stories about her it became clear it was completely in character. Ian chose Chemistry, her subject  (however not necessarily because of her, though I will strongly encourage James to do so….) For example, she taught them about the ‘Bonding’ of atoms, by getting people from the class to act out scenes from a nightclub where each participant was an atom, the majority of who were out for a few drinks and a laugh, but basically to bond with another. Then there were one or two ‘kinky’ ones who wanted to bond in twos and threes! I began to wonder. Is she a dizzy, daft old moo who doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going, or is she (and this is where my money was going) actually a very canny teacher who was using language, key words, vingettes, play-acting, kinaesthetic learning to make it fun, interesting and easy to remember.

I finally met her at his year 11 parents’ evening and we had such a laugh at Ian’s expense (she didn’t know I was a teacher and I didn’t let on) but we were on the same wavelength immediately. Ian will never have any trouble remembering, or explaining what ‘bonding’ is or how it works.

One very cool (if still slightly dotty) lady.

 © Andy Daly  2010

Another one

Once upon a time my Dad went to a service at Lancaster cathedral, where they happened to be renovating the doors. The congregation was swelled by a group of Spanish tourists from San Sebastian (in the Northern Basque territory) One of the priests is an ex-pupil and they were chatting watching people leave through the only available door, result of the works. The priest had noticed that the Spanish group had managed to clog the door as they filtered out, still taking photos.
 
A dry as you like, he says “That’s what you get when you put all your Basques in one exit!”

 

© Andy Daly  2010

A true story from my Dad

It came to pass that one day in the old school staffroom a new teacher was being introduced to the staff – Picture the scene: air heavy with tobacco and pipe smoke, with every now and then hints of a sweet aromatic smoke coming from where? (The new Art teacher is under suspicion.) “Ladies and gentlemen can I introduce you all to James. James will be joining the Science department this term. James trained at Birmingham, going into teaching after the war, during which he flew Spitfires in the RAF. He has worked in London, the West Midlands and I’m sure you would like to join with me and welcome James to our staff” Hip, hip hooray, bravo, hear, hear etc “so you were in the RAF?” Says someone “Rather!” (Notice how James is portrayed as a stereotypical upper class idiot for comic effect) “Joined up in ’40. Lucky to stay alive. Seat of the pants stuff, don’t you know, lost plenty of chums [You will tell me if I’m overdoing this…] in the drink” “Oh you should have a word with Tom (Viscsak) He was in fighters in the war” “Oh I say, really? I started with Hurricanes at Biggin Hill, moved onto fighter command based in Suffolk, then finished with 23 squadron at Abingdon. How about you Tom? Room suddenly goes quiet. “I was in the Luftwaffe……”

With George Michael at the Wag

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday – The Wag.  (Then after see Friday)

 Sunday – Recovery position

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

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

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

How much?!!

How much?!!

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

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

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

© Andy Daly  2010

Chuck Berry

I went with My Mate Bill to see Chuck Berry. He played at the Hackney Empire: one of those sumptious old theatres clearly in need of some TLC. It is kind of like an inside-out wedding cake painted by a three year old. In fact I spent a lot of time, come to think of it, trying to work who was the older, Chuck Berry or The Hackney Empire. The Empire’s upholstery is definitely in worse shape, but then it is easier to park round the back of Chuck Berry.

© Andy Daly  2010