Another Snippet


Ephraim J. Goodenough is an Artist.

A Conceptual Artist.

As to whether Ephraim J. Goodenough is a good Conceptual Artist is a question for another time. Surfice to say for now that Ephraim J. Goodenough is a Conceptual Artist. He is 20 and lives in London where he shares a delapidated flat in Stoke Newington with the four members of band the Rialtos.

Ephraim J. Goodenough’s schooling was unremarkable. He went to St Saviours, a Northern Catholic Co-Ed Comprehensive full of insecure hyperactive adolescents where he was systematically bullied by students and teachers alike. He was tall (over six foot) Wore National Health prescription glasses, had a pudden bowl haircut, and a tatty uniform whose seams he always appeared to be threatening to bust out of.

A sort of latter day Oliver Hardy.

It was at St. Saviour’s that he picked up his nickname ‘Effy’ (There were a few other names he was called, some of which he answered to, but they are best left forgotten) And it was here that he developed his love of Art. He was bloody hopeless at it of course, but the Art rooms provided some sort of sanctuary far from the madding crowd of nutters, half-wits and head-the-balls who spent each break and lunch time searching for Effy and others like him.

It wasn’t that Effy was lonely; he just didn’t have any friends. So he would spend all his spare time in the Art studios finishing off work or just doodling. His teacher was an old tomato known as Mr. Thomas, who as he said, might be a dab hand at the ‘smudge with the sludge’ (as he called painting) but that didn’t neccesarliy make him a good teacher. Effy and his fellow classmates knew this wasn’t false modesty. Old Thomas had been at the school for years. He bored the kids and they bored him. The story is that back in the day he was brilliant, but not now. A Shrivelled husk, all his get up and go got up and gone. All taught out. But he was an okay sort of bloke who more to the point didn’t seem to mind Effy’s company at these times.

St. Saviours is also where Effy fell in love.

With the female Art teacher Miss Clitheroe (or ‘Miss Clit’ as she was affectionately known by students.) She was a scatterbrained brunette, in her first teaching job. Effy was deeply smitten. For reasons best known to herself, one school summer camp during a trip to the beach, she flashed her ‘Lady Garden’ whilst making adjustments to her bikini bottom in the line of sight of a group of Sixth Form lads. Effy was the only one who saw it. Of course nobody believed him when he told them. He was convinced it was for his benefit, but for his tormentors it became just another stick to beat him with. It is more likely that as Miss Clitheroe seemed to have eyes only for Mike Fitzpatrick (and so the rumour went, his brother Steve) that they were her intended targets.

After secondary school, Effy somehow managed to blag his way onto a degree course in Fine Art. He was given two ‘E’s by the Admissions Tutor after interview: which just goes to show how bad the drug scene was in Higher Education, even then.

There his lack of ability was seized upon as a fresh and unpretentious approach to Art making. His cack-handedness was effectively nurtured. He certainly wasn’t taught anything about making Art; or making better Art.

The Fine Art department, originally the King George V School of Fine Art was housed in a building to the south east of the university quadrangle, I say ‘housed’, in fact it was partly housed; namely the Library, gallery, workshops and studios, in this imposing 1923 structure with its bronze statue of King George V installed in the niche above the Queen’s Road entrance, wrought iron gates and tower with a double-arched gateway. The rest (offices, more workshops and studios) were to be found in a Modernist white cube, tacked on to the original building.

The first years were ‘taught ‘(and I use the term loosely here) together in a large warehouse of a studio in the new block. They were a strange bunch: a disparate crew of potential artists-in-the-making, all at different stages in their understanding of Art, what it was, what it might be, and how they might fit in to the ‘big picture’. (All issues Effy had to say, the Fine Art course of the time singularly failed to confront, but then what did he know?)

Effy found himself as lonely here as he had been in school. He lacked the confidence to bask in the glow (a result of the heady mixture of wonderment, envy and hate) given off by his fellow artists.

In the foundation year at the end of every project there was a ‘Crit’ during which every student’s work was veiwed in turn and evaluated. Comments were passed by students and staff. One of the first they were set was entitled something like ‘Object and Environment’ and was clearly an attempt to elicit responses from the students to the likes of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Ready Mades’ which aside from using materials in an innovative way – in a sense to represent themselves, had started to (apparently) ask all sorts of awkward questions of the received aesthetic script that was Modernism.

Effy had gone ‘skip-hunting’ a popular activity for Art students at the time, when they couldn’t think of anything better to do or had no money to buy materials (in Effy’s case both) Ostensibly it was validated as a search for new Art media and Effy had, by the end of the project amassed a sizable rubbish tip in his work space. From this rubbish tip he had reclaimed some multicore telecommunication cable He was half-heartedly making some diorama thing with figures made from the stripped wire which was supposed to say something about the experience of entering and leaving a building. It wasn’t finished, and even with the addition of some drawings hastily rattled out the previous evening, it didn’t look like two week’s work.

So the ‘crit’ began, the tutors picking away at sketchbooks and notepads like vultures round a carcass. They were lead by the first year Foundation Course leader William Panter. Panter was a well known Art critic for a national newspaper. He had a broad forehead behind which was a shock of salt and pepper curls, with which he favoured wooly crew necked jumpers and elephant cords, not forgetting a bushy moustache. Finally they got to Effy’s workspace. His hands were sweating his stomach had dropped like a stone. Ignoring the wire figures, Panter squatted down like a North American Indian (hence his nickname amongst the First Years ‘The Great White Chief.’ And after gazing at the pile of rubbish, finally spoke

‘But it’s beautiful’

he cooed in front of the collection of detritus. He held a cigarette between the first joints of his very straight first and index fingers took a long drag and exhaled blinking his right eye where smoke had gone in. (When he did this he looked for all the world like the actor James Finlayson, probably best remembered as the villain in Laurel and Hardy films.)

‘Don’t you think?’

The tutors looked at one another.

‘I agree’ said Phylidda Laidlaw, Tutor in Sculpture and 3D Studies. ‘It is powerful statement of intent. I am interested in the way it sits in the space. Where does it begin? Where does it end?

Gavin Dobson (Painting and Mixed Media) looked harrassed

‘But there’s no paint’

‘Gavin dear it is so clear that you are still clinging to the last vestiges of Modernism and letting that cloud your critical faculties’announced Fabian Gravy (Lens based imagery)

‘But one of the greatest painters in the world, Picasso said ‘Beauty must be convulsive or cease to be’’ interjected Panter. ‘He would have loved the vision of this piece and its use of found objects’

‘Ah typical. Picasso. If ever there was an artist that illustrated the Modernist preoccupation with a patriarchal sensibilty and obssession with aesthetics’ countered Gravy.

‘But there’s no paint’ repeated Dobson.

‘But.. . it’s just a pile of rubbish. ’ Piped up one of the students, a red-headed girl wearing overalls and Monkey Boots.

‘Ahha!’ said Panter, suddenly animated. ‘It would just be a pile of rubbish if it was out there’ He nodded his head in the direction of one of the studio windows and the car park beyond.

‘But it’s not. It’s in here.’

‘Err, yeah so… ?’

‘The context has changed. It has become something else’

‘Aye a pile of shite’ said the Monkey Boot girl loconically. Her name was Ruby.

‘When is an artwork not an artwork?’ Mused Panter taking another long drag of his cigarette.

‘When it’s a pile of shite’ muttered Ruby under her breath.


© Andy Daly 2016



















Stupidity #2

I was reminded this weekend of classic piece of stupidity and thought I would share it with you.

A former aquaintance of mine told me this sorry tale.

His first job on graduating from University was in the City. Now it comes along Christmas time with office parties and all the shenanigans that go along with them. He of course, only thinking it right and proper, goes along to the party being held by his employers, where he has a good time – although if the truth be told he guzzles a bit too much of the old falling down water, what with it being Christmas and all.

The time comes to go home. Our hero lives near Gatwick, so he makes his way to Victoria to get the Gatwick express which has a regular service running through the night ending in Brighton. What can go wrong?

Well, it all starts to unravel when Our hero falls asleep before he gets to Gatwick and wakes up in Brighton. He is clearly upset at making such a school-boy error, but not  unreasonably thinks the night is still young.’I’ll just get a train back in the opposite direction and alight at Gatwick’


Except he doesn’t does he? No he falls asleep again and wakes up in Victoria.

Back to Gatwick wakes up in Brighton.

He spends all night in various modes of slumber going backwards and forwards to Brighton and Victoria until at 6am. he finally decides to call it a day and return to work.

Truly a hard day’s night


Snippets #1

The Phone Call

On saturday night I went to an Ann Summers party – fab clothing, shame about the fight….not kidding…drinks were thrown. I just trampolined with the dog.

Sunday dragged a bit after all that excitement. I was nursing a mild hangover and decided to see whether a bath might restore my flagging spirits. So it was with some annoyance that as I slipped into the soothing water my peace and quiet was shattered by a ringing of the phone.

‘Leave it’

I said to myself. But it went on and on, so I gathered a towel around me and padded into the bedroom  Where is it? In the pocket of my jeans?.Only for the bloody thing to stop just as I get to it.


But as I was just about to return to the cooling waters of my bath, when it went again.

‘Oh for fuck’s sake’ I said to myself thickly as, once again I rushed into the bedoom to locate my phone.

‘Hello’ I said

‘Err Hi.Is that Paula? A male voice asked.

‘No, you’ve got the wrong number there’s no-one here called Paula’ I replied curtly as I glanced through to the bathroom.

‘Oh …Sorry. I was sure I had the right number’

‘What number are you looking for?’ I asked

My impatience was growing

‘Let me see … 0796 838 2122’

He replied

‘That’s why, this is 0786 838 2121 …You have dialled a wrong number’

‘Oh I’m sorry. Sorry to bother you’


‘By …

Paula pressed the red button before he finished. She went to the bedroom and checked the call-back service but it was a witheld number.

‘Hmmmmm’ she thought to herself as she returned to the bathroom.

She laid the towel on the radiator and slipped back into the tub.She tried running a bit more hot water but the immersion heater was empty.

So he had her phone number.

Thanks to Hannah

Dolores Valium: Actress and Socialite

As soon as the director yelled ‘Cut’ Dolores exploded. Brice Surtees recoiled. The crew and sound guys stood, holding props, cables and coffees open-mouthed, as She launched into a tirade of invective at Harvey. Everyone was aghast. Dolores left no-one in any doubt about what she thought about his abilities as a lover or of his ‘dumbass story’ As far as she was concerned’  Harvey could ‘Blow it out of his ass’

’Your’re a cheap bastard, Harvey Hampersand, and I never want see you again’

And with that, Dolores tore off her false eyelashes and flounced off the soundstage and into the parking lot.
New York City seemed a much better proposition than calforn-aye-ey . Dolores had the apartment at Lexington and 63rd she had bought with her late husband Philco Carburettor a theatrical impressario with sideline in protection, extortion and money laundering. It was a swell joint and had been the venue for many exclusive and memorable parties in the Roaring Thirties

Ypres 1915

I find myself in a large room with a single small table and two chairs placed oppsite each other. It looks for all the world like an old hospital ward. There are large floor to ceiling height windows which curve around the end of the room, and I surmise means that the building I am in forms a cescent at this end. Long fine white drapes hang down over the windows, letting in a surprising amount of light, but diffusing it, so that shadows play slowly on the curtains and into the room. The place smells of carbolic, like the bathroom in my great grandparents’ house. Otherwise it is empty

I pull out the nearest chair sit down and wait.

After what seems about three or four minutes, behind me I hear the noise of a door opening. Someone enters the room, closes the door firmly and walks over to where I am sitting, pulls out the other chair, and sits down. As he does so I notice that I hear a sprinking sound of dried mud as it drops from my companion’s trousers and tunic; which are of a drab faded khaki onto the floor.

He gives the slightest of nods by way of greeting and I do likewise. He reaches up to his breast pocket and pulls out a battered Old Holborn tobacco tin, opens it and motions me to take a roll up cigarette, with a shake of my head and a faint smile, I decline.

He picks one out ( there are about half a dozen ready rolled and a bit of loose tobacco in the tin) and, taking a box of matches from the same pocket, lights it. He extinguishes the match and, without even looking for an ashtray, drops it on the floor, and then grinds his boot on it just to make sure.

He takes a long drag of his cigarrette, I hear the mellow ‘Pah’ sound as he finishes his pull, before    removng it from his lips and inhaling deeply, his eyes never leaving my face. He puts his tongue out a little way and picks of a couple of small pieces of tobacco from it. I notice that his hands are black, with dirt ingrained into the folds and creases of skin and beneath the fingernails. The smoke is blown out of his nose in a great plume, it mixes with the more unruly whisps which come from the cigarette. He sits back in his chair, putting his right foot over his left knee. I notice the dry mud-caked hobnailed boots he is wearing . He takes another long drag, then sits up, his piercing blue eyes searching mine.

“Who are you?”

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 one done on October 14th 1983, by Ossie ‘The Wizard’ at his studio on Byker Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne. 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 tattoo, 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.

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.

Felix Beatto. 1860s. Japanese Tattoo (Hand Coloured Print)

Felix Beatto. 1860s. Japanese Tattoo (Hand Coloured Print)

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.

And 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

Andy Daly 2016

If you want to see quality contemporary tattooing

go to

London Tattoo Convention

World of Tattoos

Antony Flemming

Dopey Cow

Here’s a little story to keep you going. It concerns Deputy Headteacher at the last school I worked at; one Mrs Denise Fajita: a ‘dough-basher’ by origin – a cooking teacher with a chip on her shoulder, ‘Born-Again Christian’, a bear of very little brain, sworn enemy of the  Arts and anything which involved Creativity, a concept she singularly failed to understand. She was an ‘I-will-be-a-Headteacher-at-any-costs’ Cv-builder.

Well, it came about that the incumbent Heateacher who had thought long and hard about retirement, decided that on balance and taking all things into account, it was time for a rest. The calling of the cool, leafy green arbours of sweet Hayes and a Heateacher/Consultancy at a school therein was simply too strong.

And so it was that this combination of audacious arrogance, twinned with monumental ignorance, Mrs Fajita stood up in the staffroom, during a friday morning meeting shortly before the interviews for the new Headteacher were due to take place, and attempted a lame joke, whose punchline revolved around the fact that at that time, each of the deputies: herself, Greg Hill and Bill Carter all drove Volvos. With true lack of self awareness and comic timing (lack of, I mean) she garbled the words at the critical point and announced to an aghast staff that an appointment was only to be made to someone who had a ‘vulva!’

I mean, I know the school management has been consistently criticised for its gender imbalance, but I felt it a bit of crude indicator of suitability for the post.

© Andy Daly 2010

Bad Influence

Now I’m not saying me and My Best Mate Aky used to drink a lot when we were younger; but we used to drink a lot when we were younger.

And I know it’s all relative. One person’s ‘skinfull’ is another person’s ‘aperitif’ and all that.

I’ll give you an example. Once upon a long time ago me and Aky decided to track down a school mate, Peter Hughes. Pete, or ‘Huggis’ as he was more commonly known was in our year. When Suky wasn’t around, or Aky, I would always try to sit with him.  We arranged to meet the erstwhile, meanwhile and once-in-a-while Mr. Hughes for a drink in town and to chew the fat about the good old times.

It was about 10:00pm, and we’d had a few. The pub was then run by a local ‘entrepreneur’ (ie Layabout/small time crook) called Joe Walsh He had a wife who seemed to model herself on a mixture of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Joan Collins, swanning from bar to lounge, carrying her stupid poodle and treating her clientele to foul-mouthed tales and bitchy gossip. Never fond of hard work, hubby Joe is behind the bar ‘supervising’ clearly inexperienced (or inefficient) bar staff.

Me, Aky and Huggis wait patiently at the public bar, nervously twitching and eyeing the clock – remember, these were the days of a strict regime of ‘last orders’ at 10:30, out by 10:45 (11:00 on Friday/Saturday) unless of course you were a local ‘entrepreneur’  in which case, ‘last orders’ was anywhere between 01:30 to 06:00am. The bar was busy, the number waiting to be served increasing all the time.

Reluctantly, poor old Joe dives into the fray as the clamour for drinks reaches fever pitch and proves as feckless as his dopey teenage barstaff. It’s close to 10:20 now, and already two people, have been served before us. Aky and me are thinking the same: What can we order, when he finally comes to us, that will really fuck things up for him?

‘Six pints of Guinness’ I suggest ‘two each?’

‘Make it nine’ says Aky. Huggis’ eyes have glazed over long ago.

You know just how LONG Guinness takes to pour. Joe’s face is a picture

‘Nine pints of Guinness?!’ he yells.

Nine Pints?! That's almost a gallon!

Nine Pints?!
That’s almost a gallon!

You can see he’s on the verge of refusing to serve us. So at last orders, 10:30 on the dot with 2 packed bars of drinkers waiting to be served we watch with glee as he attempts to cope with our order. Wonderful! only one problem remaining….Well there wasn’t a problem with the first two for me but I must admit, the third pint in 15 minutes was a bit of a struggle. Of course ‘The Fish’ Atkinson, just glugged them all one by one; the downing of the final dregs of each followed a wiping of his mouth with the back of his hand and his familiar beery grin.

We said our goodbyes to Huggis in the Town Centre. He blethered on about what a night he’d had and how we should keep in touch. We continued to wave as he veered precariously from one side of the pavement to the other while he attempted to eat his meat and potato pie, chips and gravy, eventually disappearing into the distance.

Definitely a danger to shipping.


Well, it turns out that Huggis seems to disappear from the scene for a while after our little night out.  And it is some weeks later when we bump into him in town.

‘You pair of bastards’ He says: ‘I am never going drinking with you two again.’ And to be fair, in the 35 years since, he’s kept to his word. For it seems that Old Huggis arrives home in a bit of a state on the night in question. So much so, in fact that he gets lost in his own house, and is discovered by his father in the early hours, on the landing; disoriented and talking in tongues, having vomited in a variety of locations – some of which remained undiscovered for weeks. Huggis is in the dog house more than somewhat.

Andy Daly 2016


Alright. Hands up, who knows what Swailing is?

Almost certainly Norse in origin. (Icelandic: Svaela meaning heat with thick, dark smoke). Swailing describes the age-old art of managing overgrown heathland and clearing the ground of dead vegetation so that new growth can appear, by means of prescribed burning.


Or as we knew it in Rochdale, where I was brought up, the simple union of Pennine breeze, dried grasses, moss and Swan Vestas. Swailing was treated by us kids as a perfectly acceptable robust outdoor activity during the summer months. Indeed, it sat quite comfortably alongside other healthy practices such as nesting, breaking into disused industrial buildings, walking up reservoir overflow pipes, testing out old mine workings, getting underneath old chimney stacks, swimming wherever we could and playing day-long games of ‘Walley’


I can’t believe that my former self engaged in such wifull acts of vandalism. All I can say in my defence is that we never left a fire burning out of control … and it was the 70’s. We must have been a dead giveaway to our parents; returning home, at the end of the day, stinking of smoke, grey, sooty faces with white eyes and black moustaches showing where we had rubbed under our noses.

I had always assumed that ‘Swailing’ was local dialect, which described a perculiarly ‘Rochdalian’ thing to do, but in fact it is in general circulation and used to describe this ancient process throughout the country..


Don’t do it.

It’s not big and it’s not clever.

Andy Daly 2016




Would you like ice with that?

Ever had a bad day?
When nothing seems to go right?
I remember one such when I was still in the old Chalk and Talk racket.
Of all the school trips that I organised, one sticks in my mind above all (not counting the epic Tate Gallery visit, which you will find here)
My form class were a were a sporty lot and had won the annual school sports day every year, hand running, and were set fair to do it again in their final year. So I promised them a school trip if they managed it.
Well the upshot was that they did win it, and elected to go Ice Skating!
So Ice Skating it was. The plan was to use the two school minbuses and take them to Slough Ice Rink for an evening’s skating. Colleague Graham Atkinson their Head of Year came on board to help out with supervision. I booked the transport, the school’s two minibuses. Game On! I decided to take the old bus, a filthy old transit which smelled like a rugby players jock strap, and was covered inside with a thick powdery layer of dried mud, while I let Graham have the new bus which was cleaner and easier to drive. I got the parental permission letters, insurance forms completed. Mini bus booking forms filled in.
Dirty old bus

Dirty old bus

Finally the appointed day arrived. After school had finished I decided to collect the bus keys and give them the once over.
Problem. The old bus keys weren’t where they should have been; in a box in the first deputy’s office which he shared with the caretaker/groundsman.Eventually as the school emptied of staff, the receptionist,tidying her desk for the day came across a bunch of keys.’Are these the ones? Sure enough, they were with note tied to them which said ‘ Do not use’ Well what’s that supposed to mean? I had it booked, and it wasn’t due for it’s MOT or anything . I went out and did a visual check of the bus. Tyres – fine, lights and indicators – fine. I started it up – no sign of any leaks, engine sounded fine. I couldn’t understand it. Well no matter, I’d got the keys – time to get a wiggle on, I went home for a quick shower and got changed. By the time I got back to school, the kids were arriving and congregating around the buses. I gave Graham the keys to the new one and we loaded up. Graham set off first.
Slough Ice Rink, Montem Lane.

Slough Ice Rink, Montem Lane.

As soon as I started to accelerate from the junction outside the school it became apparent why the keys had ‘Do Not Use’ written on them. The bloody clutch was slipping badly. Would the bus make it there? And more importantly would it make it back? I decided to press on. I didn’t mention anything to the kids.
Well we got there OK, if a little slowly, debussed and made our way into the ice rink. Some of the kids were old hands and had been many times before, so the exchanging of shoes for skates was done quickly and they were on the ice before we knew it.
Graham and I had collected our skates and were about to put them on when some of the girls came up to us all in a tizzy.

Balance and Poise

Balance and Poise

‘Sir, Emma’s hurt her hand.’ Sure enough I could see Emma being escorted by a phalanx of our kids over to where we were. We called for Ice Rink staff and their First Aider took a look. In fact it was Emma’s wrist that causing the pain. We put an ice pack on it. Nearest A and E? Wexham Park Hospital. Right! Let’s go. I used the new bus: I was not going to risk anything in the old jalopy. Luckily it was not far, and well sign-posted,  I turned into the Car park and reversed into a parking space. I was concentrating on looking in my mirrors that I forgot about the little step that stands out of the back of the bus and pranged the car behind me. Which Emma thought was hilarious (I put it down to the shock)

Wexham Park Hospital

I helped her out from her seat and went to check the damage. Luckily both vehicles were fine.
I can think of any number of places I would rather be than a packed A and E department at Wexham Park Hospital. Our misery is compounded. After a short wait for triage we are told. that the wait for X – Ray is about three hours, and treatment (if needed) could be the early hours. The triage nurse suggested going to a hospital nearer to home. In the event we decided to ring Emm’s parents, have them pick her up here, the take her to Hillingdon hospital. So Emm and I sit down to wait. Then we had the only piece of luck all day. Suddenly there was a gap in the queue for X ray, so we jumped at it and she got it done. Thankfully it was just bad bruising. No breaks. It was a case then, of waiting for Mum and Dad to negotiate the M25 and find their way to Wexham Park. I was thinking about the rest of the party. The rink closed at 10, and it was already half past. Then Emma’s parents arrived. We explained everything and I made my excuses and left.
When I drove into the car park at  the rink was greeted with an ironic cheer.
We still had to get home, we swapped buses and set off back, me nursing the clutch all the way.
We got back to school safe and sound at about 11pm to be met with the inevitable group of worried parents. Soon Graham and I were alone in the school car park.’ Fancy a pint’ he says’ ‘Sounds like a plan. How’s your triple Axel coming on?…’


Ever walked up or climbed a mountain?

Say like Scafell Pike in the English Lake District. There is nothing better I imagine than using the protection of a suitable cairn or trig point, opening up the sandwich boxes and the thermos and having a relaxing bite to eat before heading back down to valley floor and the car home.

I imagine there’s nothing better anyway because I’ve never had the experience. Let me explain.

My Dad was a skilled and committed climber back in the day. He had trekked and climbed in Scotland, Wales, The Peak District as well as Norway and the Alps but he always came back to his beloved Lake District.

My Dad (On right)

My Dad (On right)

He knows every inch of it, and was so compelled to have his regular fix of it that when my brothers were small often on a Sunday he would wake me up at the crack of dawn and we would kit ourselves up, get in the car and go to The Lakes for a fell walk. Or a quick couple of routes if it was climbing weather. My Dad would make sure we always had the right gear: Sturdy boots, waterproofs , ropes, compass , map, whistle. We went prepared for anything. Except eating. He was so eager to get onto the fells that on the way out he would just grab anything that he thought might sustain us by way of provisions. Food was a very low priority. Besides my Dad was notorious for going the whole day with just 20 Embassy to fortify him.

I remember one occasion stopping for lunch on the summit of I forget where, for my Dad to open his rucksack and produce a tin of pilchards in tomato sauce! Pilchards! Ugh! We ate them out of the tin with our hands.



But the best example of this cavalier attitude to food was on Crinkle Crags. And thereby hangs a tale of survival and derring-do.

We’d headed for some snow, hopefully to try out some new skis. But instead found ourselves on the top of Crinkle Crags in white-out conditions. Snow being blown horizontally. You could barely see your hand in front of your face. It was so cold and windy, ice was crystalizing on the front of my jacket. We found a bit of protection in the lee of an outcrop of rock. My Dad had a primus stove and two eggs he planned to boil. Fat chance of that!  It was simply too windy to light the bloody thing.

Crinkle Crags

Crinkle Crags

‘Don’t worry’ says my Dad, pulling out a tin of beans. He went about opening the tin with a tiny ‘wiggle and cut’ opener and passed the can to me ‘At least they are already cooked’ So we shared the tin ‘drinking’ the beans while trying not to cut our lips on the shredded metal. Suitably ‘refreshed’, we considered our position. My Dad took the view – which I shared – that we were in danger of outstaying our welcome and that we ought to call it a day, even though we were only half way through the walk.

White out condtions on Crinkle Crags

White out condtions on Crinkle Crags

The trouble was the lack of visibility. We were on the traverse of the crags, but which gully to descend by? Get it wrong and it was goodnight Vienna. We consulted the map again and made our choice. I wasn’t scared in the least. I never was when I was out with my Dad.The snow was about knee deep in the gully. The most dangerous thing was avoiding lose rocks and boulders hidden by the snow. After about 20 minutes we broke through the cloud and saw we were spot on with our direction finding – exactly were we should have been – It was still snowing, but much less windy now we were off the tops. In fact we skied the final third of the descent. Not exactly Kitzbuhel but there you go. And home in time for tea and crumpets.

My Dad

My Dad

NB. Scafell is pronounced ‘scorefell.’

Andy Daly 2016


Parkinson’s Awareness Week

As regular readers will know I make a point of making posts to this blog Parkinson’s-free. But, as it is Parkinson’s awareness week may I present this to make you even  more aware.

The boy who fogot how to smile

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, just punch them as hard as you like on the Philtrum (It is the vertical groove or ‘channel’ we all have which runs 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.

“Well, it seems your GP was correct, you have Parkinson’s Disease” I remember distinctly the tall beech trees that I could see behind Consultant Neurologist Richard Crawford, through his window. I was transfixed by them as they swayed in the stiff breeze. His words seemed to echo around the room, while briefly, still captivated by the trees I left my body and looked down on the scene in the room from somewhere above the window but which still allowed me a view of the trees as well. The gentle squeeze of my left hand brought me back down to earth, and back to my body. Crawford leaned back in his chair and began to chew on his spectacles. He had taken off his jacket earlier when he got me to do the gait tests (to my humiliation, out in the corridor in front of a packed clinic waiting room) and sat there in blue striped shirt and tie with red braces. He began to speak. His eyelids closed and fluttered as he did so. There was the tiniest hint of a stammer in his voice.

God knows why, but I imagined him as a schoolboy. Public school of course: taunted, teased and bullied because of his blessed stammer and, I suspected, a complete lack of co-ordination and interest when it came to sport. I found myself feeling sorry for him. Strange, really in the light of the news he had just given me. I had first seen him a little under a year before, with the same symptoms. Stress and Writer’s Cramp he concluded. I think he knew then, his diagnosis possibly intended to ‘buy’ me a few more worry-free months, maybe more. In the event, it did the exact opposite: the intervening year being one blighted by increasing concerns as to whether there was something wrong with me or whether it was all imagined. By rights, I should be on his desk now slamming his head in the drawer.

Well things have moved on apace since that meeting in Crawford’s consulting room, it is sixteen years later and I am still battling away with my devious and wily opponent. In the meantime I have tried all manner of drug cocktails in order to keep him at bay: Pergolide, Pramipexole, Neupro, Apomorphine, Entacapone, Stalevo, Amantadine, and of course L-Dopa. Each one comes with its own particular set of unwanted and frightening side effects – Nausea, movement disorders , Obsessive/Compulsive Disorders, Impulse Control problems, Addictions, Hallucinations, Psychosis, the On/Off Phenomenon, characteristic of long term use of Leva Dopa, of course, the alarming and exhausting diskynesias.

So Parkinson’s is much more than a tremor or slowness of movement, motor deficiency. As the condition progresses the non-motor issues become more difficult to deal with and their management becomes more complex. Luckily I was thrown a lifeline in the shape of Deep Brain Stimulation which I had done in 2011. If it weren’t for this I would be in a very dark place indeed. I went into it knowing that possible side effects were impairment of speech and Depression and in the event both have been problematic. My gait is also a bit clumsy but DBS has meant that I have remained on the same drug regimen for the last four and a half years plus it has given me back a measure of independence. There is no doubt that it works, but my perception is, whether the DBS, the drugs, the underlying condition or external factors (probably a combination of all four) that my personality has changed.

Scan of my brain. Dead centre there are two circular shapes, to the left and right are two semi-circular shaped which look like spanner ends. This is where the DBS electrodes are located.

Scan of my brain. Dead centre there are two circular shapes, to the left and right are two semi-circular shaped which look like spanner ends. This is where the DBS electrodes are located.

Lack of self confidence and self esteem are key issues. Although I have been retired now for 6 years or so I still haven’t found my ‘niche’ in a post employment world; while many things I once took for granted are now only on the edge of memory – walking without having to think about it, driving, Having a good criac in the pub with friends, teaching a class of children, my Taekwondo patterns, replacing worn brake pads on the car, the ability to write by hand, to enjoy music, to play the guitar.

And who has front row seats to my humiliations and inexorable decline? The people I love most and whose approvaI I seek more than anything: my family

Sometimes I feel like I am in a ‘bubble’ and ‘real life’ is taking place around me. I don’t speak or engage because it is too tiring to manipulate my mouth to get anything intelligeble out, other times it is simply because I don’t feel I have anything to contribute.

And the ‘Smile’? This is a reference to what is known as ‘The Parkinson’s Mask ‘ Where the muscles of the face lock, leaving me with a ‘blank expression’ which in turn makes smiling difficult. So I am not gumpy or cheesed off, I am just at the mercy of the level of Dopamine in my brain, So I’ll pass when it comes to the ‘Selfies’ I f you don’t mind.

Andy Daly 2016