Snow White Does But Walt Disney

Try it in a Scots accent

                        Try it in a Scots accent

The first in an occasional series which examines the problems inherent in language acquisition, context and meaning by the use of a crap anecdote.

Once upon a time, I was in Spain sitting at the table with my wife’s family who it so happens is Spanish. For some reason, I forget why, we were discussing Walt Disney films and characters.

I had picked up the translation (or so I thought) for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and planned to casually drop it into the conversation to show how smart I was. However, when I did my comment was met with hoots of laughter, especially from my young nephews and nieces, for:

Blanca Nieves y Los Siete Anitos

While coming close, misses the mark by one vowel and one consonant, making my translation

Snow White and the Seven Little Arseholes.

Which, to me at least at any rate suggests a film every bit as good, if not better than the original.

Andy Daly 2015

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A Rough Crossing Without A Guide

Climbers on the Napes Needles including women in long skirts: About the turn of 20thcentury. Photo: Abrahams Brothers/ FRCC

Firstly, some background. My Dad, Bernard was born in Lancaster. His parents both died quite young. I never knew his Dad, like him called Bernard. His Dad, also Bernard, was killed at Ypres in 1915, just a few months before his kid brother. Their father, Bernard (You’re begining to spot a trend here…) a Shankhill Catholic had retired to Belfast after a distinguished career in the army. As my Dad has pointed out, the Dalys may have been brave professional soldiers, but they were pretty unimaginative with their childrens’ names.

Anyway, my Dad’s Dad served in Africa during the Second World War. Back here in Blighty he drove the family Bakery van, and was then a conductor on Ribble buses. My Dad’s Mum was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and then Hodgkinson’s Disease. I was born about 2 years before she died, but of course, have no memory of her.

The point is, my Dad and his parents lived with his Mum’s parents in their big old house in Bowerham, Lancaster. In fact, the house wasn’t their’s at all. It was bequeathed to them by an old school mistress to whom they had been in service, for the term of their natural lives – something my Dad didn’t know about until after his Grandmother, who outlived her husband, had died…. and the house had been emptied and most of its contents, including family possessions had been auctioned off.

It is of this house that I have some of my earliest memories.

Ethel (or ‘Tompt’) as she was known, was my great grandmother, and as I remember her, dressed in black bodice and big skirt, her hat held with pins, born in 1881, she was the genuine article: a Victorian Woman She could be stern at times, and certainly didn’t suffer fools gladly and would occasionally silence a room with her coarse sayings and bawdy jokes – ‘straight out of a Millom iron ore works!’ as my Dad remembers.

Her husband was Thomas, after whom I take my middle name. He was from Walney Island off the coast at Barrow. A pattern maker at Waring and Gillow, he was a kind, gentle man. Also known as ‘Nandy’ due to the fact that as a child, this is what my Dad, unable to say ‘Grandad’ called him. He almost always wore a flat hat, starched collar, braces, pin-striped jacket and had a bushy moustache. I was his favourite! He used to come down early in the morning to light the fires. I was the only soul allowed down. I helped/hindered him clearing out the grate, then intricately folding sheets of newspaper to make long-burning, almost ‘double helix’ shaped firelighters. He would always make two mugs of tea. One for him one for me. After stirring, he would drink his with the spoon still in – and so that’s how I drank my tea.

So many legends seemed to hang in the heavy air of their house in Lonsdale Place (Like the story of the mysterious ‘Mediterranean Blood’ in the family. This, on investigation has proved to be no more than a muddling of my Great Grandad’s (on my Father’s side) wedding, which took place when he was stationed in Gibraltar, and the birth of his first child, this time when stationed in Barbados) One of the most oft-repeated yarns was the great story of the perilous Lake District crossing in atrocious weather from Eskdale, Skirting Scafell Pike down to the Wasdale Head Hotel in the summer of 1904. A cautionary tale, it was felt to be sound advice from ‘Those that Knew’ to get the listener to look before they leapt.

Apparently, in the July of that year, my Great Grandmother, Thomas (who was courting her) along with her parents, two sisters, Molly and Annie: possibly also with escorts and a ‘mystery man’ from Kent had decided to take a trip over the fell from Eskdale down into the adjacent valley (admittedly with some quite rough terrain and steep drops for the unwary or those unwilling/unable to read a map) As was the case in those days, a guide was appointed to see them over. For some reason, on the morning in question, he did not appear, but the party decided, perhaps unwisely, to go ahead anyway.

For no sooner had they begun than the weather began to close in. It got cold, wet, rocks began to get slippery. Visibility was reduced. Suddenly every now and then, the impenetrable mist would swirl violently and clear to reveal some yawning chasm or steep drop below or equally without warning, damp rock walls would loom up at them from the depths, blocking their path. It must have been quite hair raising at the time, but they were made of strong stuff. They arrived safe, if cold, wet and not a little shaken; my Great grandmother extremely vexed (as she used to say) with those who persuaded her against her better judgement to take part in what she referred to everafter as “That Rough Crossing Without A Guide”

Well, it comes about that one Easter – 29th April 1983, to be exact, I find myself with my Dad and my brothers at the annexe to the Wasdale Head Hotel. It just so happens that my Dad, and brothers are keen climbers and, as such hold membership of the British Fell and Rock Club; who it transpires have organised an exhibition of climbing photography and videos to commemorate the centenary of the first ascent of the ‘Napes Needle’, a particularly spectacular climb in Wasdale. Members had been asked to give up their time to provide invigilation for the exhibition on a rota basis. As I was home from University and kicking my heels, I decided to join them.

Wasdale. Looking up the valley to Wasdale Head

Wasdale. Looking up the valley to Wasdale Head

On arrival, I had a good look round at the exhibits. There were great large format ‘box camera’ photographs, some by the famous Abraham brothers which were simply stunning. Crystal clear, tonal tours de force. Then there was Bonnington and Whillans filmed on Dovedale Groove; but the one thing that caught my eye was the open visitors book dated 1902 – 4 from the Wasdale Head Hotel. Open, because it contained the signatures of a group of famous pioneer climbers, the Slingsby family and friends. Of much more interest to me, however was what was written on the opposite page, dated July 17th 1904 in a confident, though slightly shaky hand:

“J C Dawson, J J Dawson, E Dawson (my Great Grandmother) P Dawson, A Dawson, M Dawson (and their place of birth/residence: all of Millom) T. Townson, Walney (My Great Grandfather) P Priest, Liverpool, M Wall, Millom, M Borrow, Dover. A rough crossing without a guide!”

This is a copy of a scan my father did recently of the ‘Dawson’ page after being given permission to record the document by the hotel’s owners. Sadly, it had been allowed to deteriorate significantly since 1983; so much so that it was almost unrecognisable as the same image.

Click on image to scale it up.

© Andy Daly 2015

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I wanna be me!

Regular readers will know I’ve always tried to resist talking about the elephant in the room in this blog, but from time to time I get a bee in my bonnet about something and feel compelled to let it all hang out. (If that’s not mixing my metaphors too much)

Guess what?

Guess what?

When does the neuro degeneration of the brain rob you of your identity?

I have been living with my uninvited guest now for 15 years. That’s almost a quarter of my life. Not withstanding the brilliant treatment I have had from The Functional Neurosurgery Department at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosugery; and the improvement in drug therapies generally, which mean I have a better quality of life than patients a generation ago, there are stll so many things in life that I have lost the ability to do or enjoy.

In fact I sometimes I think if I were cured tomorrow (unlikely I know) would I be able to remember ‘Me’? Could I return to being the person I was? Could I replace all the pieces of the shattered jigsaw?

Xray image of a human head brain


It makes me appreciate how fragile is that exquisite piece of wiring. Look after it.

© Andy Daly 2015

Posted in Medical, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment


Deep Heat. I guess you are all familiar with this family healthcare product, the UK’s No. 1 selling pain relief heat brand, marketed by The Mentholatum Company, Inc. since 1889. It is a deep vapour rub, active ingredients: 30% Methyl salicylate and 8% Menthol, and is designed to offer effective and targeted pain relief with the relaxing benefits of heat therapy. (It says here)

Suitable for Joint problems, muscle strains and rheumatic pain.

Not then to be confused with something like, say for instance toothpaste.

Enter my old mate Chawkey.

One Sunday morning after the night before, tongue like the bottom of a parrot’s cage, eyelids like flypaper, Chawkey stumbles into the bathroom to brush his teeth. To compound matters Deep Heat is sold in a tube. Not good for those of us who for a variety of reasons (chiefly the consumption of alcohol) have to perform functions in the bathroom by braille.

In his haze what does he do (and I think you may be ahead of me here ….) but only start to brush his teeth with same mix of menthol and methylwhastsit …

Hot Stuff

Hot Stuff


He says he couldn’t taste anything for 2 weeks after,

He’s only done it the once.

And now for one week only here’s a round of

Wot’s That Word?

And today’s word is:


Does it mean:

A.)   Broken biscuits which are larger than crumbs


B.)    The dried up lumps of shit that cling to a sheeps fleece

What you think? Join the conversation at #Wotsthatword

© Andy Daly 2015

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

15th November 1975

Okay, now here’s a bit of fun for you all. A live music review from 15th November 1975. Yes, I know I’ve been a bit sluggish in getting it to publication, but these things take time.

I am just turned 15, sitting with a group of my mates in the Champness Hall in Rochdale Lancashire. I remember it as though it were yesterday. It was – and probably still is – a rather austere Methodist church hall, one which I knew well as the meeting/marshalling point for the hated annual test of will power and patience that was the Scouts’ and Girl Guides’ St. George’s Day parade. Tonight, however, it plays host to a very different gathering.

Champness Hall, Drake Street, Rochdale

All around me a sea of sickly denim and patchouli oil is headbanging. There is a band on stage. Despite, (or perhaps because of) the stage clothes, the coloured lights, the expensive looking guitars and seemingly endless stacks of Marshall amps and speaker cabinets, they look incongruous, uncomfortable even, on the high irregular stage, which is slap bang in its centre boasts a stairway with banisters.They are the steps that allow access from the congregation to reach the pulpit. Behind the group an imposing set of organ pipes dominate the back wall ( Note the refusal to stoop as low as using these as an excuse for unsavoury jokes and puns) Lit by reflected colour from the stage lighting, they look like stalactites and stalagmites forming a surreal backdrop to the whole affair. I bet it’s the oddest venue on this tour.

The lead singer has just addressed his audience and the band launch into the opening riff of the next song. They don’t look uncomfortable any more. Once they start to play, all swagger and poise, menace and noise they make it clear they own the place. The lead singer teases and goads the audience between verses. At the risk of using a cliché, inside the hall it becomes an assault on your senses, and in particular on your hearing … I SAID PARTICULARLY ON YOUR HEARING. The sound is shocking. All the mid range tones are lost in a kind of ‘acoustic soup’, the higher frequencies are sent thrashing around only to be echoed back off the organ pipes, while the bass guitar, bass drum and snare punch your chest so hard it hurts. But it is charged, the atmosphere is electric!

The band, a four piece, is here playing the 21st night of a 39 date European tour to promote their fifth album, which features a cover photograph of the band. This is the arresting image, enlarged and reproduced on a life size scale which greets you as you enter the venue. The record company, Vertigo, are keen to push the album in order that it may prompt for the band, who originate from Ireland, the breakthrough they desperately seek. In fact, during the course of 1975, as well as recording the album the group had, by the end of the year undertaken five (five!!) tours. These have included dates in the US (supporting Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bob Seger, ZZ Top and Joe Walsh) Europe (Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway) Eire and the UK. Including the Reading Festival, I make it 131 nights in total. Last night they were in London at Thames Poly (Now probably the University of Deptford or somesuch) Tomorrow, Newark (that’s Notts not New Jersey) and the day after, Swansea. A punishing schedule, not least when the band’s propensity for making touring as … how can I put it? … as enjoyable as possible … is taken into account. However, back to our gig.

As I said, the lead singer has just addressed his audience. Dripping with sweat, in his left ear he wears a large silver hoop that intermittently catches the light, and with a lop-sided grin from said ear to the other he sheepishly looks up from under long lashes, and the curls of black hair that hang rakishly down over his left eye.

“Anybody in here got any Irish in ‘em? …”

 The response is drowned out as the black singer, tall and gangly, in leather trousers and a sequined top drops to a squat clamping his black bass guitar (a Rickenbacker 4001) between his thighs and makes as if to ‘machine-gun’ his audience with it. Meanwhile the guitars break into the staccato opening to ‘The Rocker’.

Yes! It’s Thin Lizzy.

Thin lizzy!

Moreover, not only is it Lizzy, but the definitive Lizzy, which first exploited the distinctive twin guitar harmony playing of Brian Robertson, a seventeen year old whizz kid from Glasgow, and Scott Gorham a Supertramp ‘reject’ from California. When pressed to explain his choice of Robertson/Gorham Lizzy’s charismatic frontman Phil Lynott grinned slyly  and  said:

‘Chalk and cheese’

The volatile Robertson and terminally laid back Gorham, are together with Lynott and drummer Brian Downey  responsible for one of the finest musical moments which together with about two dozen others from artists as diverse as The Sex Pistols and Charlie Parker map out the course of my teens. In this case the sublime ‘The Boys Are Back In Town.’

Is this what is meant by guitar tab?

Is this what is meant by guitar tab?





Yes! It was Thin Lizzy, on the ‘Rocktober’ tour 1975, which in the context of their career, was “about a minute before they burst through into the big time – very exciting.”
A breakthrough which was to be cemented four months later with the release of the classic ‘Jailbreak’ and in particular, the aforementioned, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’

Lizzy, that chaotic mass of contradictions that came out of Crumlin, Dublin.

Lizzy, Phil Lynott’s pride and joy, who seemed to follow their own trajectory through the ‘70s and ’80s steering a more mainstream, less po-faced course than many of their contemporaries. The result being by accident or design I don’t know, timeless music.

Lynott and Gorham

Lizzy, for whom as sure as night follows day, life or the ‘business’ seemed to conspire to fuck things up for them at points when other less hardworking bands bands seemes to sail on through. Like the night before embarking on an eagerly – awaited and vitally important US tour. Instead of being tucked up in bed – or packing, Brian Robertson is at the Speakeasy Club in London, when jumping into the midst of a drunken brawl to assist his pal singer, Frankie Miller ‘Robbo’ gets glassed in the hand, severing a nerve, an artery and narrowly missing a tendon which would have finished him as a guitar player for ever.

Exit Robbo, back into the band comes Gary Moore for a while. ‘Robbo’ returns when his injuries have healed, unofficially. He’s not talking to the band. ‘… and so it went on …

It’s just the kind of band Thin Lizzy were.

Lizzy: Downey, Robertson, Gorham, Lynott. Flawless live

Anyway, enough of that. Tonight is about Lizzy as they were. Flawless on stage. For some reason the song ‘Suicide’ made a big impression. I recall being struck by the ferocity of Lynott’s attack on the song. The sheer physicality of his singing. Lynott was the first singer I can remember who actually looked like he meant it.

He (and the band) had some bottle. Remember it was the mid ‘70s. Racist jokes were still, sad to say, considered ‘acceptable’, even in mainstream culture. Meanwhile Northern Ireland festered as Republican and Loyalist atrocities followed a dismal pattern, which became almost as sickeningly ‘acceptable’. This was the backdrop to Lynott as a patriotic black Irishman taking his music to a British audience.

After the gig I remember on the way out being given a Thin Lizzy sticker by one of the road crew which I proudly stuck on my school bag and hauled it around  School for a couple of years. I loved them! They were my band.

One not very interesting  and little known fact about this Rochdale gig was that it was the last  time Phil Lynott used the distinctive Rickenbacker bass, as one of the roadies dropped it on some stairs, the neck breaking clean away from the body. Which is why from about this time onwards you see Phil playing the black Precision with the mirror scratchplate.

I was really genuinely delighted for them, that ‘Jailbreak’- which came not long after the ‘Rocktober’ tour was the success it became. They deserved it. Even if not everyone agreed. I recall seeing around this time, the lyricist/ songwriter/composer Sammy Cahn (‘Three Coins In The Fountain’) interviewed by Michael Parkinson. He was asked in typically lugubrious fashion about the craft of songwriting today. Cahn replied, saying how he thought standards had fallen.

“For example … “ and then  he told Parkinson all about a song he had overheard in which the singer just shouted the words ‘The Boys are back in town’ over and over again.’ (sic) I remember thinking ‘No! … you have chosen the wrong song there Mister.’ In fact he couldn’t have picked a worse example. ‘The Boys are back in town’ is a terrific, vivid evocation of a mythical space and time inhabited by ‘the boys’: all testosterone and bravado, equally mythical, who can be found on ‘Friday night, dressed to kill, down at Dino’s Bar and Grill.’ A wonderful construct.

‘No. 77 Sunset Strip’ was the name of a US detective series from the 60’s starring Efrem Zimbalist Junior. Lynott wanted to see what was actually at No. 77. So while in L A on Lizzy’s first tour of the States, he went to take a look. It turned out to be a ‘supper club’, the former haunt of showbiz legend Dean Martin. It was a brilliant combination of the idea of the ‘gang’ with its meeting place, whose name was a derivation of Martin’s own. It existed: though not in the form it appears in the song. I have never been there but I can imagine exactly what it was like. Great songwriting. And there was plenty of it over the years, even towards the end, ‘Sarah’ and ‘Old Town’ for instance, I think are quality gear. Okay, a bit sentimental maybe, but nothing wrong with that.

The Rocker


It is more than twenty five years since Phil Lynott died a miserable death, a long way from the assured frontman I saw captivate his audience as skilfully as you like. Far be it from me to cause controversies or open old wounds, but there is one thing that I think ought to be mentioned before we leave the ghosts of November 1975 in peace.

‘Why are you wearing that T shirt?’

This one?

It is November 2009, I am in Charing Cross Hospital hospital. The voice belongs  the bloke in the bed opposite me, who I won’t name. (I’ve forgotten it anyway) He was leaning on his elbow, looking like death warmed up, nodding his head in the general direction of the distinctive Lizzy logo on my tatty black Thin Lizzy T shirt.

‘Is it because you like the band or the shirt?’ He said.

After I’d got over the mild effrontery I felt at having been thought of as so shallow that I would wear such a garment simply because of its aesthetic attributes. I replied:

‘Well, I loved the band, and I like the shirt’

As I said this I glanced down at his shirt, it was decorated with the thick black hoops of a ‘Pirate – style’ shirt. (Favourite band, I later found out? The Pirates!) High up on Charing Cross Hospital’s eleventh floor Neuro ward we developed quite a rapport.

He continued ‘I only ask because I worked for Phil Lynott for the last couple of years of his life. I was his Personal Assistant. It’s amazing, he and the band are more popular now than ever. Often I see people wearing shirts, carrrying bags or whatever with Lizzy designs on them, yet they could have never seen the band. They’re too young.’

I was keen to learn more, but unfortunately my comrade in arms was really not in a good way, and was having to spend large portions of his day hooked up to a drip, and unable to move, nauseous into the bargain. So as inquisitve as I was I eased off on the solid wall of questions I had targetted at him and let him have a break.

One thing he did say though – and bear in mind it seems as if Lynott’s death was probably not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’

‘He needn’t have died. If I’d have had my way he’d be alive today’

‘You mean you would never have been able to get him clean, there were too many people eager to supply him… and if he wasn’t even listening to his mates … He’d have had no chance? …’ I said.

‘No, I don’t mean that. I mean at the house that Christmas. They didn’t want any fuss, anyone to know, so they took him to that bloody drug clinic place near Salisbury. They didn’t know how to treat him, not properly, not in his condition. I wanted him taken to the nearest A and E.’ (Probably Kingston, a few minutes drive away as opposed to the middle of Wiltshire, where he was eventually whisked.)

Do I believe him? I don’t know … and who were ‘They’? The family? Other than that, I’m saying nothing, except that as many others before him and no doubt many still to come, Phil Lynott was a victim of his own belief in his ability to control drugs. I wish Phil, like Iggy Pop, had made it through and survived. I think he would, as Iggy is, be ‘quietly massive’ and thoroughly enjoy basking in the glow of warmth and affection that still exists for him from those who knew him, loved his music, plus those – and there are many, for whom he paved the way.

And if he chose to earn a few potatoes selling car insurance? Then so what.

And how about that? A whole article on Phil Lynott which doesn’t use the phrase ‘Wild Man of Rock’

… Till now… Doh!

The Official Thin Lizzy Site

The Thin Lizzy Guide

© Andy Daly 2011

Posted in Live Music Review, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love Thy Neighbour

(Warning. Content which might offend. May contain nuts)

Overheard on a tube train last night…

‘So, I’m getting really pissed off with the noise, so I thinks ‘Right I’m going to fucking sort this out’ So I get a can of yellow paint out the shed, I go over there and chuck it all over the fucking windows and the door. I’m wearing my Reeboks, y’know the black ones? And then I realise it’s on my fucking trainers leaving prints everywhere.’


‘ I had to run three times round the estate, before it wore off and I could go home’.

© Andy Daly 2015

Posted in Observations, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Come and have go if you think you’re hard enough!

Warning. May not be suitable for people of a nervous disposition. This post is issued with an 18 certificate. Features football violence and lots of bloody swearing.

Manchester United did their promotion hopes no harm at all after running out clear victors over a lacklustre Blackpool side at Bloomfield Road this afternoon; Forsyth, Macari, and Mc Calliog all getting onto the scoresheet. The event was marred by some crowd trouble ouside the ground when groups of United fans ran amok along the seafront and Pleasure Beach. Police said they made three arrrests. Blackpool nil Manchester United three.

21 OCTOBER 1974

A Monday morning on the furthest muddy reaches of the school grounds. Marked by a saggy chain link fence. Most of the pupils keep to the path as they walk towards the school gates. A small group of lads, however use the sag in the fence to climb through. They gather by a mature sycamore tree and some bushes, which gives them cover from the main gates. Their breath condenses in the chilly autumn air.

‘Come on, spark up’. Says one. He is wearing a feather-style haircut, parallels, black zip up platform shoes. His school blazer is done up with the middle button . Its badge bears the legend ‘Caritas’. His tie is tied in a ludicrous huge flapping knot.

Yeah C’mon we ‘aven’t got much time. Says another, wearing a cheap black crombie coat over his blazer. Brogues and red socks on his feet.

They all get out their fags, Feather cut takes out a zippo lighter and each in turn light their cigarettes. ‘Ahhhhhh….’ They let out a collective gasp of relief.

‘Did you see it then?’

‘What? ‘

‘Sat’day night’

‘What? I went out Sat’day night,’

‘It were fuckin’ hilarious’

‘What were?’

‘Finny. Din’t you see ‘im?’

‘Ont’ telly?’

‘No, what happened?’

‘Well, he went to Blackpool wi’ United and you know there was bit of a tear up with the cops? Well Finny was right at the front. So I’m watchin telly Sat’day night waiting for Match of the Day and on’t News, you know how they have a picture about each news story? Y’know? Behind Reginald fuckin’ Bosanquet. They only had a massive picture of Finny … leading the fuckin’ troops.I nearly fuckin’ pissed meself’.

‘Ey here he is now’. Finny skips over the fence. Hair like an explosion in a Ginger Nut factory. They all pretend to bow and scrape before him

‘We’re not worthy’ they cry.

‘All right stop all the bollocks you set of cunts. Who’s got a spare fag ? ‘

He takes a cigarrete and Feather cut lights it for him.

‘So, have you had any offers?’ Feather asks Finny.

‘What offers? What the fuck are you on about?’

‘Offers, You know, Hollywood? TV and that. I’d have thought that the producers of Starsky and Hutch would have on the phone after your appearance on Sat’day night TV’. They all burst out laughing. Finny attempts a half hearted kick, but Feather is too fast.

‘What did your Old Man say about it?’

‘He never saw it did he, he was in the pub. Fucking good photo though. Mind you the cops gave us a right kicking. I were black and blue Sunday morning’

Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.

Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough … Look at the flares!

‘Oh shite, look out it’s Harris!’ A teacher strides purposefully across the playing field, he has spotted them: too late, they try and dock their fags and pocket them.

‘You boys! Stay where you are.’ Mr. Harris affectionately known as ‘Bummer Harris’ is Head of PE and likes to throw his weight around a lot. ‘I thought it might be you lot. Have you any idea what it looks like from the staff car park? It’s as if the tree was on fire, clouds of smoke billowing out of it. Let’s have them’ He looks at Finny.

‘Finnerty, give’

‘I haven’t got any Sir, honest’

Harris pats Finny down – as roughly as possible

‘How about you Kinsella?’ Reluctantly the boy puts his hand into his blazer pocket and takes out his packet of ten.

‘Sovreign? Quick Burns?’ Harris says, turning his not insubstantial nose up at them.

‘Owyahh!’ shouts Feather, his half smoked cigarette is smouldering in his trouser pocket and has just worked its way through the lining.

‘You Goon!’ Yells Harris as Feather tries to get the offending article out of his trousers. (If you see what I mean) Harris adresses them all ‘ Mr. Baldwin’s’s office, line up outside, NOW!’

‘Not you Finnerty’. He grabs the boy’s shirt collar and backs him against the tree. Speaking close to the his face So that Finny is able to smell the stale tobacco on the teacher’s breath.

‘So, I saw you made the news on Saturday night’

‘Well, didn’t you lad?’

‘Yes Sir’.

‘Go on. Mr. Baldwin’s office with the rest of those idiots AND think yourself lucky that Mr. Baldwin was at a Parents and Teachers’ Association Treasure Hunt on Saturday night. And unless you want me to tell him how you’ve dragged the school’s reputation through the mud, you’d better keep your nose clean. Do I make myself clear?’

‘Yes Sir’

‘Now go’

As he trudged to the Headmaster’s Office Finny couldn’t help but wonder about what he was sensing from Harris. Something other than all the play acting about the fags.

It couldn’t be jealousy

Could it?

© Andy Daly 2015

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Craic

Group shot chaos. Amsterdam

Group shot chaos. Amsterdam

Take 43 artists and designers from all over the UK, with backgrounds in a variety of disciplines: painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, interior design, place them in a bewildering variety of London schools, give them a disused car showroom and workshops in the New Cross one way system as a base and watch them go through the trials and tribulations, the heartache and pressures of teaching Art to classes of young people.

Doesn’t sound a very promising scenario does it?

Well it was a blast. Largely because of the people involved. The Goldsmiths College Art Teachers Certificate course 1984/5 contained a great mix of personalities. We worked well as a team and we looked out for each other. We were sounding boards to bounce ideas off or shoulders to cry on. We supported each other. We worked hard and played hard.

The course was unique in its structure. We worked three days a week in our placement schools or colleges, had one day (Tuesday) of lectures/seminars/tutorials. The Wednesday was a studio day, which meant developing your own work as an artist, designer or craftsperson. It was a central tenet of the course that we continue as visual arts practitioners.

This was all directed from the course base in the old M & B Motors garage on Lewisham Way opposite the main campus. The workshops transformed into a studio, the showroom into a lecture room.

Some of my fondest memories are of the trip to Amsterdam. Ostensibly to study the Dutch system of education, specifically in Art and Design, it was in effect an end of course ‘jolly’ which allowed us to have a bit of R & R after a long hard year and before going our separate ways.

The photo shows us at Liverpool street station. It is 8:30am, we have just got off the train from Harwich after an overnight crossing from the Hook of Holland. We all look a bit dazed and confused. Which is not surprising after four days of heavy drinking in Amsterdam. I also have vague memories of us taking over the dancefloor on the ferry on the last night, then sleeping under one of the stairwells before a 6:00am wake up call on arrival back at Harwich.

I need some sleep

I need some sleep

There we all are looking so young and happy, self assured. ‘Warriors’ ready to do battle in the nation’s schools for the cause of the visual arts. I find  it impossible to look at them and not feel a pang of yearning to be one’s former self in a life that was altogether more simple and carefree.

And the craic was good.

© Andy Daly 2015

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Simon Lewis


Dear, dear Simon. I have thought of little else today.

It seems bizarre to consider a world without you in it.

Although I know we hadn’t had much contact over the last ten years, but you were often in my thoughts.

You were a real gentleman, modest about your gifts, a great drummer, cyclist and sculptor.

I wish just one more time we could ‘bunk off’ a lecture and spend the afternoon in the Marquis of Granby chewing the fat.

Maybe one day.


And thanks.


My favourite Picture. On return from Amsterdam 1985

My favourite Picture. On return from Amsterdam 1985

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Chameleon and all that jazz

One of the stranger side-effects (if it could be called that) of my Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery, along with the chemical imbalances that characterise the workings of my brain, is that I have lost all interest in music. Listening to it and playing it. It is odd and very sad.

I have stacks of CDs and LPs I don’t play, while I haven’t picked up a guitar for the best part of 3 years.

Go figure.

Anyway, a long time ago before all this Parkinson’s nonsense I realised, albeit briefly, a musical dream. And of all places, it happened at the last school I taught in. The Head of Music announced one staff meeting that Out-reach performers under the radio station Jazz FM 102.2 were coming in to do some workshops and an evening concert. Jazz FM was the official and legitimate manifestation of my favourite pirate radio of the ’80s, JFM. It was a station that encompassed Blues, R&B, Soul, Gospel as well as Jazz. You could tune in and hear music from the likes of Gil Scott Heron, Eddie Harris, Quincy Jones, Thelonious Monk and the SOS Band. All on the same show. (It still exists, although a pale shadow of its former self as ‘Smooth Radio’.)

I’ve always loved Jazz, but never had the technical competence to feel confident playing it.

Dave O’Higgins

But my ears pricked up at the announcement and as luck would have it I was free on the afternoon of their visit and was  therfore able to join in the workshops. And what a treat! We worked with members of the Dave O’ Higgins quartet (O’Higgins – sax, Adrian York – keyboard, Andy Hamill – bass and Winston Clifford – drums) The students were split into to two groups, each concentrating on one piece each, in order to perform it in front of an invited audience that night, I muddled in with one of the bands. To my delight, for our group they chose ‘Chameleon’ a funky number from Herbie Hancock’s album ‘Headhunters’. I was happy as a pig in you know what…

I used a 1973 butterscotch Fender Precision to play the bass line rather than the synth of the original. We worked on it all afternoon. All the players getting the hang of improvising; choosing their ‘jumping off point’ and then negotiating their way back into the tune. The quartet were seasoned musicians and hard taskmasters. I don’t read music (to paraphrase Clyde Stubblefield one time drummer with James Brown ‘All those lttle squiggles made no sense to me they just look like Chinese writing’) so I found it hard going, but I loved every bit of it.

When it came to the evening performance, I felt as through I’d  had a bucket of frogs tipped down the inside ofmy shirt. I had to kick off the tune off before the drums come in. Still, in spite of the white knuckles and sweaty palms I made it through without any major cock ups. Or should that be Hancock ups?

‘Chameleon’ Herbie Hancock

And so ended my brief career as a Jazz musician. By the way, did you know Chameleons have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. Each eye can pivot and focus independently, allowing the chameleon to observe two different objects simultaneously. This gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies.

Neither did I.

© Andy Daly 2015


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