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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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

 

Joke

… And that’s how Bobby Womack ended up writing ‘Breezin’…

Now then, where was I?

I’ve written ‘Lancaster Cathedral’ down on this piece of paper, what’s that all about?

Ah yes, a joke.

Once upon a time my Dad went to a sunday service at Lancaster Cathedral as he often does, where they just happened to be renovating one of the doors. The congregation was swelled by group of Spanish tourists from San Sebastian (in the Northern Basque territory) One of the priests is an ex-pupil of my Dad’s and so they lingered a bit to chat, and generally chew the fat.

Watching people leave through the only available door, result of the works. The priest had noticed that the Spanish group had managed to clog the door as they filtered out, still taking photos.

As quick as a flash and dry as you like, he says “That’s what you get when you put all your Basques in one exit!”

© Andy Daly 2016

All photos from Lancaster Cathedral Blogspot

Talkin’ Turkey

Now I don’t know about you, but for me the Festive Season doesn’t get into full swing until I awake at somewhere like Barking, Dagenham, Upminster, Barnet Church, Brighton, Uxbridge, Rayners Lane, Hainault, Paris, Queen’s Park, etc after a night out with workmates and chucking back a bit more of the Yuletide grog than my liver is prepared for; eating (optional ) and generally having a good criac.

In fact, I am a dab hand at sleeping through stations on my way home from nights out on the town. Especially stations after the one I am supposed to be getting off at. Not a major problem in itself, under normal circumstances. You simply cross over the platform and get the next train back towards London and alight, none the worse for the experience, if a little later than planned. But my speciality is the last out-bound train of the night. There are no more trains back into London from where I habitually wake up.

cockfosters

And even if there are, I am not sure I trust myself, under the influence of the old falling down water, to not doze off again and have to repeat the whole process. For instance, I have unhappy memories of one Christmas staying with friends near Crawley. I go for the works Christmas drinks uptown. On the train back – unusually, a 24 hour service – after sleeping through Crawley and waking up in Brighton, I then spend the entire night going between Victoria and Brighton missing my stop each time, till at about 5:30am I give in and go back to work feeling rough as rats. In short, you name it, I wake up there.

Tonight it is Cockfosters.

Right at the end of the Piccadily line, it nestles somewhere beween East Barnet and Mordor and is 6 stops after my ‘Target Station’ of Wood Green.

There is absolutely no- one around. The Taxi rank is deserted. I check my pockets: I wouldn’t be able to afford a cab anyway. And now it’s starting to snow heavily. I have no idea where I am (other than Cockfosters of course), or which direction I should take in order to make it ‘home’ to Wood Green.

‘Home’ being the floor of my Best Mate Aky’s bedroom in a ramshackle shared house. He has the downstairs back room (otherwise known probably in another life as the ‘Dining Room’) My temporary status due to the fact that I am only staying to work for the Christmas period.

I begin to walk. It is stupid o’ clock, I am freezing bloody cold and I’ve got to be back in work in six and a half hours. And I’ve no idea if I am going in the right direction. I come across a dual carriageway, the snow is really starting to stick now. Looking at the signs, I reason that going left should take me in the general direction of Wood Green. After an hour of trudging through increasingly deep snow, I take a chance and flag down the first cab I see, and offer all the cash I have to take me to Wood Green. I am a couple of quid short, but he takes me anyway: Relief!

The next problem: how to get in?, I haven’t a key. How the fuck am I going to get in without waking the whole house?

I stomp down the path to find in a stroke of luck that I am still at a loss to explain all these years later, the house door is wide open. I go in brushing the snow off my boots and coat. Every one is sound asleep.

Hmmmmm! I feel a bit peckish so I go into the kitchen. In the fridge are the remains of the turkey we had yesterday for our ‘Pre-Christmas Christmas Dinner’ So I take it out and after removing the tin foil put it on a plate on top of the microwave. A Turkey and Cranberry sandwich seems like a good idea. But before I can carve any of the meat, a voice asks:

‘So where do you wake up tonight then?’

I scan the room. I appear to be alone, but with all the glasses of Christmas cheer and one thing or another, I’ve downed, it’s kind of difficult to tell.

‘So come on, let’s hear it. Which god-forsaken deserted tube station do you wake up at tonight?

I know this sounds absurd, but the voice seems to be coming from the turkey. Sweat breaks out on my upper lip and I tell it:

‘Cockfosters’

‘Ah Cockfosters is it? If the Underground had piles that’s where they’d be. And how do you get back? On Shanks’ Pony or do you find a cabbie daffy enough to take you?’

‘Err .. Yes. I mean no .. I mean bit of both’

‘And do you have a good night? Is your little detour worth it?

I can’t believe I am being quizzed about my social life by what appears to be the ghost of a roast turkey.

‘And how do you let yourself in the house may I ask if you have no key?’

I have no idea why the ghost of a roast turkey should be party to such information, but explain about the front door being open.

‘Hmmm.. there are some strange goings-on tonight right enough’ Says the turkey; and I’m inclined to agree with him.

I find I am losing my appetite for a sandwich, probably a result of the onset of an attack of the ‘bedroom whirlies’ and so bid the turkey Goodnight and Happy Christmas and make my way to my Best Mate Aky’s room. I hit the floor and am comatose in seconds.

After a restless sleep in which I dream I am being pursued by lots of turkey carcasses, I am getting ready for work the next morning with such a noggin on me. I sit at the table letting the steam from my cup of tea unstick my eyelids and mulling over the events of last night, chiefly my encounter with the ghost of our ‘Pre-Christmas Christmas dinner’. My Best Mate Aky has already gone to work, and it is a couple of days till our paths cross again.

‘Recovered from the other night then?’ he asks.

‘Just about. Hey, you’ll never guess what happened after I got back, I was in the kitchen about to make a turkey sandwich, when it started talking to me’

‘What did?’

‘The turkey’.

‘What did it say?’

‘Well it was asking me about my night out and that I should get a key cut to be on the safe side’

Says Aky. ‘It is me who is talking to you, you crate-egg. I am in bed, but I open the old serving hatch. I guess you can’t see me because the microwave is in front of it …’

‘With the turkey on top! Of course’ I add. ‘ So it wasn’t the turkey ghost after all. Well I’m glad that’s sorted that out. I am never going to touch another drop if that’s the effect it has on me’

‘Perhaps a bit rash. Could have been something you ate’…responds Aky.

‘That’s true’

‘Fancy a pint?’

‘Sounds like a plan’

‘Y’know that turkey told me about the band he was in?’ I say as we leave the house, heading for the pub.

‘Really I don’t remember ?’ Says Aky, nonplussed ‘How did it manage to get in a band?’

‘He had his own drumsticks’

© Andy Daly 2013