Trainspotting

I love trains don’t you?

Ever since Robert Louis Stevenson designed the first train, the iconic Flying Scotsman they have got faster and faster. The train speed record was set by the Mallard with its modern looking sleek lines on its qway to the city of Truro. Some enthusiasts wear anoraks, hang around stations and copy down the train numbers. They are called trainspotters. But be warned, many trainspotters are actually out of their heads on heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth. Or all three.

Not ‘arf

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The Car Is The Star

I love cars, don’t you?

The first car was invented by Bob Marley and the Wailers, hence the BMW roundel and logo that all modern cars have today.

Originally, cars had two wheels and were called motorcycles

Cars have a dashboard and a steering wheel, where you will find all the instruments, such as the horn.
One of the most iconic cars ever was chitty chitty bang bang who starred in “The Italian Job” along with Herbie the love bug, otherwise known as a De Lorean
To drive a car, you need a road, which is bit like a railway made out of Tarmac. Some  cars have a dipstick, which can be found behind the wheel. Not ‘arf.

SWEARING

God I love swearing, don’t you?

There’s nothing like getting your tongue round some pithy gutteral ancient Anglo Saxon to relieve stress and tension.

But did you know that swearing was introduced to these shores by the Normans, who invaded in 1492 in attempt to steal back their Danegeld?

Or that a ‘minced oath’ is where you use a flippn’ alternative to the flppin’ curse you were going to flippin’ use and to not mince your words, therefore means you are forthright in expressing your views.

Note: only one of the above is true.

Confused? You will be …

Will Tall ever choose between Our Lass and Karen? Will Jill stick with Buggles? Will Keith and Sheridan Small have a joint wedding? Has Greasy John has his hands down Debbie’s Knicks? Will Tim ever grow back his moustache? Will Jane ever return? Will Phil ever go to sleep? Will me and Murphy  ever get a job? and what’s happened to Harry? Will Wiz ever sell his TR 6? Will Chawkey ever finish his breakfast? Will Mo the Header turn out for our 5 a side team next season? Will Suresh ever get out of hospital? Will Dinks ever get to see his own a. hole?

Ah, we are all going to Helena Handcart.

 

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I lived there you see

So my eldest is flat hunting in the East End. Out of the blue he says

Dad, what do you know about Bromley by Bow?’

What? Other than the fact that the area is said to gets its name from the shape of the bridge built over the river Lea by Maude, wife of King Henry 1?

Or that it is built on the site of a medieval convent, dedicated to St Leonard?

Or that following the Dissolution, the priory chapel became the parish church, but Second World War damage and construction of the Blackwall Tunnel northern approach destroyed much of what was left?

Or that the notorious Kray twins had a club on Bow road?

Or that Mahatma Gandhi stayed in the community centre, Kingsley Hall when he visited the UK in 1931.

Or that the Bow Quarter was original site of the Bryant and May match factory and scene of the 1888 strike, when the workers, mainly women went on strike for better conditions.

Or that I celebrated my 25th birthday with a party in the Priory Tavern.

Or that the Spratts Patent Ltd manufactured dog biscuits from the 1860s (It says here) and erected the first billboard in London? It doesn’t say where though

… Isle of Dogs maybe … Barking …?

The view from our terrace. 1985 Bromley By Bow

View from my eldest’s terrace Bromley By Bow 2017

 

Dick’s Out

Before the complaints come trickling in. The apostrophe IS in its rightful place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ve been in Spain and I’ve been thinking a lot about Clive.

Clive loved Spain.

He died out there, suddenly oh, it must be coming up to 7 years ago now. I worked with him at the same school for 10 years or so. I miss him terribly. We weren’t ‘Best Pals’ but we did spend a lot of time together. Like many others we fought against half-baked thinking and the inadequate grasp of fundamentals in education, nay in human relationships, and especially so when it came from the unleavened Mrs Fajita. (‘Dopey Cow’) Hapless management, made our day, but at what cost to students’ education?

We shared some of the same interests in music, although it has to be said we didn’t agree on everything. We were founder members of that tiresome quartet ‘The School Band’ I have even forgiven him for, unbeknown to me, turning my trusty WEM Dominator amp off while he did some acoustic numbers at a social do in the school hall finally I took to the  stage spent the first eight bars trying to work out why my amp wasn’t working.

‘It was ‘Buzzing” he said.

‘It’s a 1970s British valve amp.’ I said ‘ It’s what they do!

Ooooooh I was cross with him.

I enjoyed his blog ‘Going to the Dogs in Swindon’ and he was complimentary about my scribblings, which meant a great deal to me and gave me the confidence push it on a bit.

I remember a right old day out in Southsea. Ostensibly, a Sixth Form end of term trip, we skidaddled straight away and during the course of the afternoon drank a bucketful of beer, ate the second largest plate of fish and chips I’ve ever seen, chewed the fat more than somewhat, and ended up on some hideous ride at the funfair. Poor Denise Broadbent! I’ve never seen anyone go soooo green

Then there was that memorable day in Valencia. Of all the people over the years who have said ‘I’ll pop across and see you, I’m only in Javea/Denia/Xativa/Valencia/Almeria/Extremadura/Santiago de Compostella/Wherever ….’ Clive and Sue were the only ones who ever did. We ate Paella and to round off the day, I gave our eldest a dollar for the fruit machine, and he won the bloody jackpot ¡Ay caramba!

Clive and Sue

He loved the Simpsons, and in particular, Homer’s half-witted, lugbrious attempts to be a real father; wholly the opposite of Clive . I remember descriptions of his readings of bed time stories from ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ which were gripping enough to ‘reel – in’ neighbourhood kids and passers-by!

We laughed at the same kinds of things, both of us unashamedly cynical. But he never let his … ‘worldliness’ let’s call it, cloud his teaching. He was a great teacher.

Clive turned me on to Irvine Welsh,’The Watchmen’, which I read cover to cover. Not bad for someone who hates comic-books, while I used to love hearing his tale of how he booked Paul Simon to play at the folk club he ran in Swindon in 1965, when Simon was living over here. As Clive recalled, it was not long after this that back in the US with Art Garfunkel he began to achieve his first major success.

Anyway, the story I am about to relate is true, and it happened at a West London secondary comprehensive during a friday morning staff meeting (A time when most present were still actually in a deep state of unconsciousness) Not Clive. No, I think Clive had been preparing himself for some time for that particular morning’s meeting; one which was to be chaired by the school’s First Deputy, Greg Hill.

Now, the reason that the responsibility for the weekly staff meeting – indeed the whole school, lay in Greg’s capable hands was that Headteacher, Dick Duggan, a man of principle and honour (if also worryingly long sideburns and crispy fried seaweed comb-over) was not in school, but attending the Hillingdon Association of Secondary Headteachers’ conference. Or ‘HASH’ as it was known. (I swear I’m not making this up)

Calling the meeting to order, with a most unfortunate turn of phrase which he to this very day swears blind was unintentional, Greg booms out:

‘Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dick’s out’

To which, quick as a flash Clive replied:

‘Is that an order?’

Now, I don’t know whether you have ever seen a teacher spontaneously awake from a profound slumber; let alone a roomful. It is not a pretty sight. It’s very funny though: watching your colleagues variously choking on dentures, hot tea, coffee, spilling same over weeks’ worth of marking, exam papers .Very, very funny

A priceless moment from one of many. Sadly missed. Clive, this is for you with the hope that we may one day chew the fat again like we did down at Southsea.

I’ve looked at Life from both sides now

From win and lose and still somehow

It’s Life illusions I recall

I really don’t know life at all

© 1973 Warner Bros

 

© Andy Daly 2017

Beyond The Grave

For reasons which were never adequately explained to me, when we had our extension built, Building Control forced us to have a soak away dug in the back garden rather than simply cut into the existing surface water pipe. The Soak Away’s job is to collect and disperse the run off water from the house and garden.
So we did what we were told and built a Soak Away as required. This meant digging a pit about 6 feet (182cm) deep and backfilling with shingle and stones.
One of the young labourers was tasked with the job and went about it with gusto. He did not use any power tools only a spade, a shovel and a pick axe, but by the end of the afternoon he was standing in a neat 6 foot square hole. The edges were lovingly finished, crisp, and the sides plumb.
I went out to have a natter with him and to take him a cup of tea. I praised him for his speedy work and in particular his tidy finish.
‘Ah yes’ he says. ‘I was grave digger in Poland’

© Andy Daly 2017

Slap happy

Warning. Early 1970’s sexism, and graphic scenes of violence which those of a nervous disposition may find distressing.

May contain nuts.

l have said before that my schooldays were a kind of ‘Kes’ in real time. Examination of Ken Loach’s treatment of former teacher Barry Hines’ book ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ reveals a cast of teachers and pupils captured with just the right amount of lunacy and pathos. A snapshot of life in all its absurdities, which mirrored  our experience with uncanny accuracy.

Among the psychopaths, nutters and loonies at my school I was fortunate enough to find two sane lads who were into the same things as me, and who just happened to be the funniest people I’d ever met: namely Baz and Teck. Like me, a fan of Milligan, Baz is possessed of lazer-like wit, with which he is quite able to reduce his audience to pulp with his no-nonsense view of the world and razor sharp comments. Teck is far more lugubrious. His speciality is ‘The Rant’ along with silly words, sound affects and accents.

Thanks to the Interwebthingumybob we are still  in contact today. Apart from maintaining our friendship the beauty of this is that we are sometimes able to remember events jointly as they actually happened, and even describe what took place from a different viewpoint or perspective.

When looking back and all your instincts tell you ‘That can’t be true … I must have made it up …’ all it takes is a quick Facebook message.

Let me give you an example. I remembered a comical (well not so much for the girl involved) incident from 1972. We were in the second year  ( Year 8 ). The bell had gone for the end of break and we were all milling about in the Languages corridor. In theory we were lining up outside our respective classrooms, when in fact it looked more like a scrummage, complete with Scrum Half about to feed the ball (somone’s school bag) Through this melee of bodies walked Sarah one of the prettiest girls in the year with a group of freinds. In what must have been a catastrophic rush of blood to the head, because it was so out of character, a class-mate by the name of George, casually put out his hand and as Sarah and her friends passed, he cupped her left breast.

A horrified silence descended on the corridor, the two packs disengaged and looked on. You could hear a pin drop. Calmly and without breaking her step Sarah wound her arm back and with a confidence that suggested she was more than a dab hand at unarmed combat adminstered the mother of all slaps to George’s chops. It sounded like hitting a pound and a half of liver wth a cricket bat. The corridor was in uproar again until our French teacher Russell O’ Callaghan arrived on the scene and sorted us out.

Some 40 years later Baz,Teck and me are discussing the the incident in The Regal Moon pub and it transpired we had each been in the corridor, but in different places. Yet on inpection, our accounts of what happened matched perfectly.

And the thing that we each remember most?

That slap.

I bet on a quiet day if you listen carefully down at the bottom of St. Wilfred’s Drive, the estate of new houses built on the old school site, you can still hear the echoes of Sarah’s Super Slap today.

40 years on L-R Self, Kath, Angela, Teck. Baz, Mike

© Andy Daly 2017

Broken English

Shakespeare. No longer fit for purpose.

Shakespeare. No longer fit for purpose.

Why is it so effortful to understand what people are saying these days? I fear English is broken. No longer fit for purpose, going forward.

For sure they will say ‘It is what it is’ and ‘yeah no yeah’ which is true, but I think it’s a whole nother ballgame. For example ‘Breggzit’ what does it even mean?

Confused of Ruislip

In the Swim

Recognise this place?. Unfair question I know. Doubtless you all grew up near one, whether or not you recognise this specific example is more of a test.

dale_baths

That’s right, It is a public baths.

Indeed it is Rochdale Public Baths.This was where we could be found when we weren’t playing Walley, 36-a-side football or swailing.

Or at least it was.The baths are no longer there. They were pulled down in 2012.

Built of  Accrington Brick and York stone  at a cost of £67,131 this Art Deco building opened its doors in 1937 offering Turkish and Russian baths plus the Crush Hall, cafe and spectator areas. The two pools, large and small, were both built wth underwater lighting, and in a bit of forward thinking the building was originally heated by waste burned in the Cleansing Department’s nearby refuse incinerator.

It must have looked a swell joint in its day.

With our trunks rolled up inside our towels, We’d hop on the bus into town and spend the afternoon running, bombing and petting (petting?) until our eyes were blood red from the chlorine and our foreheads an angry mauve, having been slapped so many times as we dived from the high boards.

Self: top left C 1970

Self: top left C 1970

Self: third from left C 1970

Self: third from left C 1970

And when our  afternoon was over, having got changed, we gave in to the fuzzy warm feeling ovecoming us and made our way to the cafe for a cup of the nicest tomato soup with toast you have ever tasted.

My adoptive town. So many happy memories there.

© Andy Daly 2017