The Softest Cushions

Our story starts with a blood red sunrise, which stains the sky with a deepening scarlet seeping into vivid blue as the giant orb slowly and majestically gains height and finally brings the dawn of a new day to an expectant half of the world. We are at that mystical, magical point where East meets West. Where cultures collide and echo to us down the centuries, speaking of a common human bond – a kinship, which is sadly overlooked in today’s busy and hectic world. The sunlight begins to play on the curves of the Great temple, to which hundreds of thousands make the pilgrimage at various times of the year to worship their Gods. Sadly, as is often the case, sanitary arrangements are insufficient for such influxes of people as a result, a fetid smell hangs in the air during the summer months.

That’s right! We’re in Wembley. Or rather YOU are. I’m not. Never mind all that ‘blood red sunrise’ bollocks, I’m still in bed. I haven’t seen any of it. Never one to avoid throwing myself whole-heartedly into heavy drinking, I have awoken after last night’s excesses with a ‘creeping’ hangover which will peak about 5 or 6 O’ clock: which is just when I plan to be going out again; unless I do something about it. This usually means ‘Hair of the Dog’. One I am going to have to catch and scalp in Wembley. For today is the day that Chawkey, Wiz and yours truly go to inspect and hopefully sign a contract for a rented house in Sudbury Town, to be exact.

We meet up, the intrepid threesome at the appointed hour, 10 O’Clock, in the offices of the Estate Agents handling the property, Benton and Crook.These are up on Wembley High Street while the house is right down in Sudbury Town. We are given the keys and left to go and have a look. Wiz drives us down there. On a street called the Dell just behind the parade of shops, it is perfect. Good sized rooms – we could even get away with sub-letting the ‘box-room’, clean, tidy with no garden to worry about. Handy for work, plenty of curry houses about, it ticked all the boxes. All agreed? Aye, let’s do it. So we made our way back up to the High street to sign the necessary papers and lighten our pockets to the tune of £280 deposit and a month in advance.

All paperwork done and dusted. It’s eleven thirty and we’re each spitting feathers. Time for a few scoops? Yes indeed! We wound up in that big ugly pub, just after the road branches off down to Wembley Park

Wiz didn’t hang around long, as he was driving, but Chawkey and me stayed a bit, chewing the fat. Although, I’d worked with him for over a year, I was really only just starting to get to know him. I enjoyed his company immensely.

In fact, Chawkey and me stayed a lot longer, so much so, that my ‘Hair of the Dog’ had done its trick, I had, at last begun to feel human again, but was dangerously close to getting pissed anew: which wouldn’t do at all, considering my evening arrangements.

So off we went into the rapidly fading light of this late afternoon Saturday. We made for Wembley Park on foot, Chawkey after an Uxbridge train to get to Ickenham, where he was staying, and me an Aldgate train and then a District line to Bromley-By-Bow. We said our goodbyes and legged it down to our respective platforms. I juuuust made it onto my train, which was quite busy for the time of day. As I sat down, I noticed to my right, a woman in a beige overcoat reading a paper.

I was soooo tired, the carriage lovely and warm …. I began to doze …

This desert was hell: so unforgiving … I simply remember being so exhausted, I could take not a step further. I fell where I stood. But they still wouldn’t let me sleep. All these questions: why? Although unable to distinguish individual voices or specific phrases, I could tell they were questions. I was convinced of it. I was aware of being carried and slung onto the ground

I had been moved – inside, judging by the absence of wind and a warm, comforting scent that played around my nostrils. I summoned all of my strength and opened one eye. I appeared to be in a large, sumptious tent. Everywhere I looked, every object and artefact seemed to be there purely to provide comfort. I slowly took it all in. Most tempting of all, right in front of me an enormous pile of beige cushions. I dug deep and summoned all of the strength I had, tottered over and with abandon, gave myself to the cushions. They were indescribeably comfortable. I plumped them up with my hands and finally … finally sank my face, my body deep into their yeilding softness ….

From far away, I was aware of a strangled scream. My body suddenly jolted to the left, My eyes opened to the sharp, harsh rustle of an aggresively shaken newpaper while the woman next to me bounced on the seat to the right, a very exaggerated attempt to move away. Opposite, two lads apopleptic with restrained laughter. Then the penny dropped. Oh no! … beige overcoat? …. beige cushions? … … I must have fallen asleep on this poor woman’s boosom.

I managed a weak smile, then clamped my eyes tight shut until I could sense Mrs. Beige had got off.

Beige cushions … Bloody Hell! I’m lucky I wasn’t arrested!

© Andy Daly 2016

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