THE PACHYDERM IN THE VESTIBULE

The Pachyderm in the vestibule

Regular readers (Both of you) will attest to my healthy disdain for superstition and pseudo-scientific knowledge in place of hard fact. Not only that, but my steadfast and unbreakable determination to grab the bull by its whatsits, avoid all sorts of squeamishness and lily-livered cowardice when it comes to writing about feelings and suchlike.

As my old great grandmother used to say

There’s no fool like an old bird in the hand when it comes to beating it about the bush.

Now, I feel I should offer some sort of explanation for the almost year long hiatus. It all started with a bump. A bump on the head. A quite sizeable bump it has to be said. I was falling a lot at the time; legs just washing out in front if me and down I’d go. I usually though some sort of instictive reaction for self preservation, managed to avoid head injury, praise the Lord.

Yep. Nothing more serious than a trip to local A and E .The top and bottom of it was I was booked into Queen Square for a second insertion in July 2017. It was always on the cards that I would have a fresh insertion at some point, when I felt that I was getting no more from the original DBS (Deep Brain Stimualion) set up as it was. And so it was.This time, they used the Boston Scientific hardware a new generation of kit, which allows the ends of each electrode to be moved to focus the therapy and means it is much more accurate.

The surgery itself was…. ‘uneventful’ I think is the correct term.

And then spent the next month in hospital. And do you know what? It seems to onl y to have worked beyond my wildest dreams!

and now, bizarrely,I find myself increasingly reluctant to talk about it for fear of’Jinxing it’. (I know ). So, i will just collect my stuff, my lucky rabbits foot. My four leaf clover and stick my head down for a little while.

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One Word Book Review

Here we are! for one week only, due to public demand, the return of the One Word Book Review.

Julian Barnes: The Only Story

Heartbreaking

John Irving: Until I find you

Long

John Irving:  A Widow For One Year

Longer

Danny Baker: Going on The Turn

Motormouth

Ken Follett: A Column of Fire

Shite

Joseph Heller  Catch 22

Unfinished

Alan Johnson: The Long And Winding Road

Moving

Kent Hartman: The Wrecking  Crew:

Suprising

Rodigan: My life in reggae

Roots

Fredrik Backman: A Man Called Ove

Irritating

The lore and language of schoolchildren

We used to sing some funny little rhymes when we were at school didn’t we?

Remember this one?

‘Yellow belly custard, green snot pie

all mixed up in a dead dogs eye

spread it on a butty, nice and thick…’

I’d like to see what fucking Jamie Oliver would make with those five ingredients.

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

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