U2,You Too?

I love U2. Don’t you?

Bonio, The Hedge and the other two have made some epic music ever since their early years in Dublin where they were known as ‘Them’

They got their new name from the number on an alien spaceship that crash landed in Roswell US in 1947.

Bonio (AKA Bonio Vox/ Paul David Hewson) got his name from the sign over a shop in Dublin that sold hearing aids for dogs. And The Hedge? Well, no-one really knows … The distinctive-sounding baldy guitarist is very private about his privet.

U2 have had a million hits worldwide including ‘With Or without you’ ‘I Will Folllow’ ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and ‘Whiskey In The Jar’

Bonio and drummer Adam Clayton

Bonio and drummer Adam Clayton

The band has collaborated with other musicians, artists, celebrities, and politicians to address issues concerning poverty, disease, and social injustice. In fact it is common knowledge that Bonio has applied for job of Pope, which will requre him living in Italy. I’m sure it will be a big influence on his songwriting. Can’t wait for the next single and tour. Not arf!

Andy Daly 2016

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The Man Who Fell To Earth

bowie3

I felt I couldn’t let the passing of David Bowie go unremarked.

I am of an age now where my cultural and sporting heroes are all seemingly queueing up to shuffle off this mortal coil.

I remember buying ‘Space Oddity’ from Bradley’s Records Rochdale and in so doing started a relationship with his music which lasted throughout the 1970s and early 80’s. I just loved the story telling in his songs. And so did most of my mates. Everyone was into Bowie.

But it never occurred to me that David Bowie would ever die. On reflection, of course he isn’t dead at all, he still stands before us, a creative colossus whose status as cultural icon is unassailable and whose music touched so many people and influenced a generation of musicians and artists.

© Andy Daly 2016

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

WHITE LIGHT DEEP HEAT

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

colgate_toothpaste

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

He’s only done it the once.

© Andy Daly 2015

Follow The Beer

Warning. May not be suitable for those of a nervous disposition, dealing as it does with the destruction of large quantities of alcohol.

Now hands up if you like a drink.

I thought so.

How many of you would class Hofmeister lager as one of your favourite tipples?

Follow the Bear ... Out of the bar

Follow the Bear … Out of the bar

Aha! Trick question, as Hofmeister no longer exists. The low strength low flavour lager was axed by its manfacturer, brewing conglomerate Scottish and Newcastle in 2003. But it reminds me of the early eighties when I worked in a ream wine store situated at the top end of Bloomsbury, Central London.

If you head north through Tavistock Square, pass the British Medical Association, then turn right between The New Ambassadors and the County Hotels, you come upon Woburn Walk. As if you’ve stepped into a timewarp you are transported from the noise, grime and traffic on Upper Woburn Place to the most wonderful parade of Georgian shops, designed by Thomas Cubitt and built in 1822 as London’s first pedestrianised street. This is where the shop stood.

Barrels: Strictly speaking, Kegs. Barrels or Casks have no CO2 propellant

Barrels: Strictly speaking, Kegs. Barrels or Casks have no CO2 propellant

As the business established itself one of the things it did was to begin to take on the sourcing and delivery of barrels to naughty West End publicans who were ‘buying in’. It went like this. A landlord of a ‘tied house’ (Brewery owned/Fosters one of its beers/supplies all products) would ‘buy in’ say 20 x 11 gallon barrels of Fosters lager at from us at a knock down cash and carry price, we would buy the barrels from the wholesalers and deliver them at a convenient time. Usually in the dead of night just before a stock check. The barrels were hooked up to the pumps and sold at brewery/pub prices. The landlord then simply had to gauge how much extra beer he could make ‘disappear’ without arousing the suspicions of the brewery and of course make sure that everything tallied at stock check time… And pocket the difference.

Clearly something the brewery would take a very dim view of if they knew.

This is why we were often to be found at ridiculous hours of the morning or night in a transit van speeding through the sleeping city to a rendezvous in some dodgy boozer or other. Our modus operandi once we had arrived, was to use the shortest route possible from van to ‘away from prying eyes’, whether this was the cellar, bar or other storage area. We were no draymen, there was no finesse in our methods. But what we lacked in finesse we made up for in speed.

One such delivery took us at the crack of dawn to The Duke of Argyll on Brewer street, Soho (if memory serves correct) It was the first time we had been there, and the publican looked nervous. He soon started getting in the way ‘supervising’ his delivery of half a dozen 11gal. barrels of Carlsberg and one 18gal. Hofmeister. Now despite being skinny as a whippet I was quite strong in those days. I could lift a full 11gal keg, but the 18gal. was beyond me. The publican had the cellar trap door open in the street. We were carrying the barrels to the cellar edge and dropping them down onto a thick hemp mat.

Time came for the big Hofmeister, Two of us got it off the van, then the publican insited we tie in on a rope, like the brewery draymen and lower it into the cellar, reluctantly we did so and rolled it to the edge ready take its weight. In a scene reminicent of film ‘The Dambusters’ when Barnes Wallace’s spinning bomb is succefully launched, the steel cask slipped out of its rope sling and went turning in freefall down into the cellar … where it bounced and bounced again. Now, the cellar was so arranged that the barrels were all out of the way. Beneath the cellar door and its vicinity was where the bottled beers and mixers were stacked in great towers to about five feet in height. The bouncing Hofmeister headed straight into these stacks and with a deafening roar demolished the towers of crates containing bottled beers and mixers. There was beer and broken glass everywhere.

Steady... steady... steady... She's gone Skipper!

Steady… steady… steady… She’s gone Skipper!

The smell was incredible. We were up to our ankles in beer, but oddly mine host seemed quite unconcerned about the breakages, in fact he was quite cavalier about it. Once the financial transaction had taken place he grinned at us.

‘Well there’s no point in crying over spilt beer’

I can only assume that he was so relieved to get his barrels in that he wasn’t bothered about the bottles, which he could claim were down to breakage. Catastrophic breakage at that.

One other thought about the German-sounding Hofmeister, which had always been brewed in the UK. What did it say about drinking culture, advertising and marketing in 80’s Britain. By 2003 Hofmeister sales had plummeted to just 4,000 barrels a year. Sales of Foster’s (which you couldn’t give away in 1980) had soared 30% . For Hofmeister, Scottish and Newcastle went with Ad agency Boase Massimi Pollitt’s (‘For Mash Get Smash’ and It’s Frothy Man’) who  conjured up George the Bear. The ads featured the tagline “For great lager, follow the bear” Hmmm at 3.2% it was piss weak and up against the likes of Stella, Becks, Budwieser, other imports and a burgeoning Real Ale market.

Bad taste. In more ways than one.

© Andy Daly 2015

No Comment

BBC South East news 7th November 2013

Mercianreg

UK soldier killled in Afghan suicide attack named

A British soldier killed in Afghanistan has been named as Warrant Officer class 2 David Philip Green. The 42-year-old, from Dagenham, East London, was part of the 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment.

The Ministry of Defence said he died in a suicide attack on the final day of an operation to disrupt insurgents in the Kamparack area, 25 miles (40km) north-east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand.

His widow Gillian said: “David will always be the centre of my life, he will be remembered as a doting father, loving husband and a true professional soldier.”

He had two sons, aged seven and five.

SONY DSCLancaster Guardian 15th February 1915

Lancaster Soldier Killed In Action

Corporal Bernard Daly 35, serving with “B” Coy. 2nd Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry of 13 Bradshaw St, Lancaster died on Friday, 12 February, in the trenches of the St Eloi sector, Ypres.
His commanding officer, Captain Skinner described Corporal Daly, husband of Jane Frances Daly and father of two as a model soldier who had just completed 20 years service. He was well-liked by all the men and was a keen hockey player. He was shot in the head by a sniper’s bullet and would have died instantly.

By a cruel twist of fate, the post that brought the family this devastating news also contained a letter from Corporal Daly especially for his young son on the occasion of his birthday.

My Great Grandfather

The Company I Keep

Muhammad Ali, Billy Connoly, Robin Williams, Bob Hoskins, Linda Ronstadt, Maurice White,

Y' nooo Big Yin. Shaken not stired

Y’ nooo Big Yin. Shaken not stired

Michael J Fox, Johnny Cash, Roger Bannister, Martha Johnson, Ray Kennedy, Margaret Bourke-White, Alec Issigonis,  Mervyn Peake, A. J. P. Taylor , Terry-Thomas, John Betjeman, Charles Schulz.

It would be quite some party.

© Andy Daly 2014

Beards

And another thing.

Beards.

What the fuck happened?

Last week all the male models, footballers and  celebrities that people our dull lives were clean shaven and facially well groomed. This week everyone is wearing varying amounts of silly face lace. Or so it seems.

I have looked forward to the resurgence of the fashion for facial hair on men with the same kind of lumpen dread I have awaited the return of Loon Pants and Feather Cuts.

I’ve got to come clean. I hate  beards.  There is something inherently wrong with them; as if the wearer has something to hide (perhaps bits of leftover breakfast, like Roald Dahl’s Mr. Twit.)

mr-twit

And what about the Upside Down Heads?

You know.

Those who insist on shaving their heads while growing luxuriant facial hair, giving the viewer the disconcerting feeling that their heads have been inverted.

For my sins I have never allowed more than a few days growth to accumulate since I was 17. The longest I have been without a shave is when I was in hospital in 2011; when I learned to my horror that despite an (almost) full head of hair which is still (almost) its original colour, my ‘beard’ was whiter than a polar bear using Daz in a snowstorm.

A  freind posted on Facebook recently

‘Should I trust a man who refuses home-baked cake?’

My reply was unequivocal.

‘Absolutely not. I’ll bet his hair doesn’t blow about when it’s windy either’

‘Andy, he doesn’t have any hair. but he has a beard’

I rest my case.
© Andy Daly 2014

An Inspector Calls

We used to make some shite in our Craft lessons at school didn’t we?

lollystick fruit bowl (executive model with posh base)

lollystick fruit bowl (executive model with posh base)

I once spent a whole half a term glueing lolly sticks together to create a fruit bowl. Other equally spectacular outcomes were a copper ‘matchbox protector’ (why?), and an orange plastic lampshade. Our bemused expressions on being asked to make them, only matched by those of our parents when we took them home at the end of term. Of course this was in the ‘70s, when you could get away with crap lessons like that, and an orange plastic lampshade didn’t look too hideously out of place in the average sitting room.

Lovely!

Lovely!

Let’s face it; most craftrooms back then were an irresistable treasure trove of exotica to be nicked and fucked about with. The tools! Lathes, drills, buffing machines, chisels, saws. The possibilities for causing death or serious injury were endless. Every time the teacher left the room (which was almost all the lesson in some cases) we would let fly. Pieces of wood, tools, metal, peoples’ ‘Jobs’ (as our work was quaintly known) would be pelted across the classroom. How the fuck we didn’t end up getting cut to ribbons I’ll never know.
All gone now of course. Replaced by the sober workbench and ubiquitous network of PCs. And Technology
All of which reminds me of a story told to me by a teacher freind of mine. She worked at Chantry, a special school for ‘maladjusted’ children as it was known then. She had a particularly difficult group who were almost impossible to get settled and concentrating on anything. That was until she introduced them to a bit of sewing or perhaps more correctly, needlework.

For miracle of miracles; when she got out the sewing kit and once they had got bored with trying to jab each other, they simmered down and got into some learning some basic techniques.
Well, it was into one of these lessons one jolly morning that a school inspector (This was pre-OFSTED) purposefully strode and took up her position to observe the lesson. Apart from making ‘V’ signs behind her back, the kids completely ignored the visitor. Meanwhile, the teacher explained to the students what they had to do, and they got started.

A relative calm descended. The teacher went around, helping out. As she did so Mrs. Inspector takes it upon herself to poke around and give the students the benefit of her expertise. She stood and looked for a long time over the shoulder of one of the boys, which had the visitor even the slightest awareness of body language and the intimate classroom dynamics of such a teaching situation is the boy she would have made a point of steering well clear of.
“Oh no no no!” said the inspector. Silence. The students looked from one to another, open-mouthed.
“Oh no no no! That won’t do. That bit there. It isn’t straight .” You could hear a pin drop.
Without looking up the boy replied: “Yeah? Well you’ve got a fucking big nose, but I wasn’t gonna say nothing”

As it happens the Inspector turned out to be the sister of one of this county’s great female sporting legends.
And she’s got a fucking big nose too.

HORNETS’ NEST

Well, I promised to keep you posted about my progress (or lack of) on the short story writing course I’m doing. Here’s my first attempt.

Contains language and some scenes which some readers might find upsetting. May not be suitable for those of a nervous disposition

 I took an instant dislike to Major Christian Haslam at our first meeting. A ‘rising star’ in the Grenadier  Guards, he was 32 or thereabouts with one of those smug faces, straight out of the shallow end of the gene pool and an expensive accent to match.

He was the driving force behind the British Army’s new tactical strategy in Sangin and the surrounding area. Operation ‘Front Foot’ he called it. He felt the area had been quiet for too long. What was needed, he said without a hint of irony, was for the British forces to be on the ‘Front Foot’ and take the fight to the Taliban; shatter the calm. For the troops in Helmand province, the ‘Front Foot’ was what was likely to get them reduced to ‘pink mist’ or to life as a multiple amputee.

soldier

‘The calm’ as he put it had been regular parolling in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the populace, knowing full well that the Taliban had control of the townspeople and the moment the British returned to the safety of the Sangin District Centre the Taliban were out undoing all their good work. On their first tour of Afghan and with an average age of nineteen, The Royal Irish Regiment had found themselves at the business end of ‘Front Foot’ and were having to adjust pretty rapidly.

Today, I have the pleasure of Haslam’s company as he interviews Private Bailey of 3 platoon. A routine patrol had ended with Private Steven Finch killed and Bailey wounded. I am there in the capacity of witness/notetaker.

It is hot and sticky, about 48 degrees, the atmosphere heavy. Haslam looks irritable as he enters the compound. He dispenses with pleasantries.

“There’s a shit storm brewing over this in the media back home” he rants. “The mother is claiming that Finch’s life could have been saved, that the MOD is covering up.”

I call Private Bailey. A tall, wiry unshaven man, he sits on the compound floor, after first saluting his senior officer.  Haslam perches on the corner of some ammuniton boxes. He fixes Bailey with his startling green eyes.

“Now  Private Bailey, I presume you know what this about?”

“Sir” He mumbles.

“We just want to get a clear picture of what happened on the patrol which led to Finch’s fatal injury and your wound”

“Sir”

Bailey describes how the two platoons formed up in the wadi outside the compound at dawn. Then carried out their orders which were to clear their section of town of insurgents, weapons and IEDs, then make their way to a known Taliban stronghold where 1 platoon would attempt to provoke an engagement with the enemy. Bailey and Finch were at the front of the section, Private Finch acting as Point Man.

“We walked out of an alleyway and into a sort of orchard, when we see five fucking Taliban with weapons, ammo belts, everything, right in front of us. Without thinking, Finch and me open up and drop them. As soon as we do, we come under massive fucking fire. A wall of lead. We’re pinned down. After about two or three minutes I think “I’ve fucking had enough of this” and throw a grenade over the wall where most of the fire is coming from, so we can pull back. Then Finch looks at me and says

“Billy I’m hit”

And he falls at my feet. Well, I thought this is starting to get fucking serious. This is really happening.”

“And so what happens next?”

“I shout ‘Man down, man down!’”

“And then what”

“I pick up Finch’s machine gun and spray the area while Woodward the Medic assesses his wound; then Sargeant Gregg comes running down the alley. “Where is he? Where is he?”  He’s shouting.

“That’s when I get hit when a round grazes my shoulder.”

“Go on.”

“We’re still under fire. Sergeant Gregg organises a stretcher party. They were using a hammock and Finch kept falling off. We’d never practised using one before. The straps were trailing on the ground and the boys kept tripping over them. Sargeant Gregg was screaming at them. It was a bloody nightmare.”

“And in your opinion, was the casualty still alive at that point”

“Yes Sir. I remember Woodward saying he had a pulse, it was shallow and weak but he was definitely alive. They took him all the way back up the alley and across the ground we had cleared earlier to the compound”

“Now this is what I don’t understand.” Said Haslam “You took the casualty back to the compound and requested MedeVac from there. Why? Why was it left another … what was it? ten minutes to make the call? Why didn’t you make the call straight away?”

“The radio wasn’t working, Sir”

“What?”

“The fire control radio wasn’t working Sir. The antenna was broken. We had been waiting a week for a replacement.We had to rely on the Bowman radio Sir, and we were in a flatspot. We kept losing the signal. “

“Jesus Christ! So you had no Comms? Was your commanding officer aware of this?”

“Yes Sir”

“And the casualty died on the way to Bastion – you were with him?”

“Yes Sir”

“Bailey, under no circumstances do you mention any of this without consulting me first. Is that understood?”

Bailey scuffed the dry earth with his boots, and for the first time raised his eyes to meet Haslam’s.

“Bit late for that Sir. “

“Why is that?”

“I rang his Mum”

“You’ve spoken to the Mother?” Hissed Haslam suddenly, all the colour was drained from his face.

“Yes sir. I know his family well. I stay round there sometimes when I’m on leave. I’m going out with his sister”

“Are you familiar with the term Operation Minimize corporal Bailey?” Asks Haslam, barely able to hide his fury.

“Sir. It’s the procedure that is put into force when someone has been killed in action”

“Meaning?” Prompted Haslam.

“No calls or texts home, so the parents and family hear first from the MOD”

“Exactly! So then family don’t get the news from the gutter press … or God knows who. What did you tell them?”

“Everything. I thought the Operation Minimise period had passed”.

“Rubbish … Oh Jesus.” Haslam’s head drops and he begins to rub the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

‘This isn’t over yet’ Growled Haslam.

There is a dead silence.

“Okay. That will be all Private’ I dismiss Bailey.

“Sir”

“Do you believe him?” I ask Haslam when Bailey has left the room.

“I don’t know!”

Haslam rounds on me. “All I do know is that I’m going to get hauled over the fucking coals for this. A grieving mother all over the papers and TV, and then there will be an inquest which will want to know why the MOD lied when it said her son died instantly, why she was told his wounds were ‘not surviveable’, why vital communications equipment was not working, why it took so long to get him out. Oh God what a mess.”

afghan

The following morning 3 platoon takes delivery of a replacement radio antenna. Then at about 10am we get the news that on Route 611 the Taliban have detonated a huge roadside bomb. I wonder whether Haslam has got through safely.

I find myself recalling his parting words the day before:

“When will people wake up and realise that this is a war, people get killed. It happens”

© Andy Daly 2014