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

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A Birthday Poem

HERE AND THERE

barcawindow

It is strange: knowing you are there, nearer home than here, which is after all home, but almost a world away. In point of fact, here you’re definitely not there, but sometimes you’re not really here either. Not in your heart of hearts. Mind you, I can understand why. I suppose there are many many times that you are there when you are here. And it doesn’t help when people go ‘there there’, because you might not want to be there there, you might want to be here here or you might want to be a bit there or a bit here: a kind of cosmopolitan here there. The main thing is that no-one is nowhere, you’re always somewhere. Here, there … or thereabouts.

valenciavalencia2

Andy Daly 2013

Bull

Home from Spain.

Oh how nice it is to be back on English soil. Well, runway asphalt at the moment, as we wait to be transported from Gatwick’s South terminal to the North terminal.

And how wonderful to hear English spoken again;

‘Alright, can you make sure you all got your hand luggage. If you leave something I can’t come back for it, isn’t it?’

Ah! a good cup of tea. Even if it does cost the equivalent of a medium sized African state’s GDP at the North Terminal Starbucks.

Meanwhile those nutty Spaniards are tying rags to bull’s horns, which they then douse in petrol, set alight and let them and bull loose into the barricaded streets of a village, where dozens of mainly young men wait to torment the bull further while trying to evade collecting a wound that might see them bleed to death. They lost one this year!  A bull. True! It was somewhere like Fuente Espalda de los Cojones in Castilla La Mancha. One of these bulls went missing. I mean how can a 1,800 lb bull go missing for … well it was three days by the time we came home – they still hadn’t found it! – in a village of 1600 people with sealed roads? They say it’s a centuries-old tradition; so is Morris Dancing.

Given that they were well aware of the size, strength and general demeanour of their opponent you tend to feel they could have chosen garments which offered a teeny bit more protection than Shorts, vests, trainers, neckerchiefs and wristbands.

Ahhhhh! Cosy Eastenders, Corrie and X factor. Like a comfy pair of slippers.

The banter with chirpy, colourful Cockney Cab Drivers, after you ask them to take you to Ruislip from Heathrow. Now that’s entertainment.

Sensible drivers.

What about parking in Spain? Unbelievable… and when there’s a football match they park anywhere they want: on roundabouts, bus lanes, pavement corners. The police seem to do nothing. Most irresponsible.

And that’s the Old Bill themselves on a traffic island

Traffic chaos on match day Valencia

A curry!

Primark.

The Queuing! There wasn’t  decent queue the whole fortnight (Apart from the one above). And what good is arriving in a shop and asking ‘Ultima Por Favour?’ Ultimate what? Hits of the eighties? TV Cops shows? How are we supposed to know?

Sainsburys/CO-OP/Morrisons/Tesco/Budgens their appetising and rich collection of produce. Food treated respectfully.

Whereas in Spain they have that stupid excuse for a  festival where all they do is throw tomatoes at each other! I ask you. With all the hunger and need on the planet; what a waste. And dangerous too. There are literally hundreds of Japanese tourists injured every year because inconsiderate participants – probably drunk – have thrown their tomatoes without even openening the tin first!

Yes, how nice it is to be back on English soil.

And the rain! God it’s good to see some rain.

And some more rain … and more: drip drip, drop drop …

Oh how nice it is to be back on ….

© Andy Daly 2011

Dick’s Out!

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

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Bear with me. I am writing this in Spain in a ‘Cyber Cafe’. A vile and loathesome place peopled by well-off, but badly-behaved and foul-mouthed delinquent Spanish teenagers, and (forgive me, for some of my best friends are …) surly Poles and Rumanians. I can hardly hear myself think above the din of Air Hockey, Pool and Table Football; and the associated arguments and squabbles. I am tempted to keep the lot of them back at the end of the evening until they can show me how to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. It will be their own time they are wasting … So if I’m not up to my razor-sharp best there’s the reason.

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

Clive loved Spain.

He died out here, suddenly just over a year ago. I worked with him: or at least taught at the same school as him 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. (See ‘Dopey Cow’) Hapless management, more so in later years, made our day, but at what cost?

We shared some of the same interests in music, although it has to be said we didn’t agree on everything. On another note, I have 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. We then took to the stage where I spent the first eight bars trying to work out why my amp or guitar: one or the other, was goosed.

‘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’, while Clive was complimentary about my writing (if not my spelling) which meant a great deal to me and gave me the confidence push it on a bit … come to think of it, he has a lot to answer for …

We were tutors in the same (Sixth form) year group. 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 – this is before the arrival of my uninvited guest of course* – drank a bucketful of beer, ate the second largest plate of fish and chips I’ve ever seen (It takes a lot to beat the Waterford Arms at Seaton Sluice) chewed the fat more than somewhat, and ended up on some hideous ride/torture machine at the funfair. By then, we had met up with other staff, who though sober, still accompanied us. Poor Denise B. 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 (and Tim Brown) were the only ones who ever did – come to us I mean. We ate paella (which, if you have never had the real thing you have no idea …) To round off the day, I gave our eldest a dollar for the fruit machine, and he won the bloody jackpot ¡Ay caramba!

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 to those who were prepared to listen – and often those who weren’t ….

Clive turned me on to Irvine Welsh, (when he was good) ‘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. I assume this must have been 1965, when Simon was living over here. As Clive recalled, it was not long after this that with Art Garfunkel, (Quick check – yes it is spelt like that) 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/Middlesex 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 half a roomful. It is not a pretty sight. It’s very funny, as those awake enough to get the joke first time – then watch the spectacle of their colleagues variously choking on dentures, hot tea, coffee, spilling same over weeks’ worth of marking, exam papers and in one or two cases even wetting themselves – will attest. Very, very funny.

But it is not a pretty sight.

Staff meetings, like assemblies are always worth staying awake for (if you can) in my experience, as it is often at these gatherings that you can make the ‘catch of the day’ And so, there you have it. 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

*Parkinson’s –  if you are still trying to figure it out

© Andy Daly 2011

See the Sunrise with me …

   I thought you might like to see the sunrise with me….                                    

 

 

  

  

 

   

  

Fishermen on the sea wall where we spend our summers, just south of Valencia, Spain – You didn’t believe all that crap about the ‘Bloggers’ Jamboree’ did you? Tut tut!

Images © Andy Daly  2010

 

Happy Birthday

 

On this day during the course of the 1960s (No, I’m not going to tell you which year) a little girl was born in an imposing ‘finca’ close to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (or town hall square) in Valencia, that glittering jewel in the Spanish crown. The youngest of five children, born into the family of a hardworking and respected couple, from Alcoy near Alicante. She grew up resilient and resourceful: hardly surprising considering the competition – three brothers, the eldest of which was 15 when she was born.

To have an apartment in such a sought-after area of the city was a measure of how far her parents had come as individuals, and then as a family since the end of the unbearably bitter Civil War. They had known hardship, privation, hunger, internment, forced labour, the pain of loss, not least,  a brother commited to the opposition in the miserable frozen wastes of Teruel. Yes, this is Spain, everybody’s sunny summer playground. We tend to forget …

Of course, I knew none of this, when I made my first hapless attempts to get to know her better in the staffroom of a West London school.  In contrast, yours truly was born later that same year in a particularly grim area of the industrial North of England. Our respective environments could not have been more different. Around the corner from the ‘finca’ the graceful Plaza with its palm trees and fountains, site of the ‘mascleta’ (You have to see and feel this. Calling it a ‘display of firecrackers’ or somesuch really doesn’t  do it justice. It is immense) You don’t need to walk too far before you come upon the old dry river course, its bridges and boat moorings still intact. Quite different from the ribbon of brown slurry that passed for a river and was such a feature of my journey to school as a child. Then there is the ‘Micalet’ and the handsome central market and the smells!  Of sea, the earth, the orange blossom.

The smells which characterised 1960s Huddersfield? I think we’ll draw a graceful  curtain over that.

I could go on (and on)

And the point of all this? I just wanted to say that despite everything, I never forget, and

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

© Andy Daly  2010

Traffic in Valencia

To start with, be prepared for a complete refusal to comply with any aspect of their equivalent of the highway code, by about a third of the population (shooting red lights, parking on the centre of roundabouts etc) and the ‘Grandes Vias’.  These are old huge 6 lane roads which run through the city. Elegant, with enormous trees, ornamental gardens, fountains, cafes and bars running down their central reservation, and over-looked by blocks of highly sought after flats and ,apartments, they are ‘roads from hell’ for the unwary, faint-hearted, and the most vulnerable of all ‘the tourist in the hired car’. Everyone travels at breakneck speed (usually breaking the national speed limit, never mind the urban limit) Obligatory free arm hanging out of the window, the other hand on the wheel, but poised ready to thump the horn for anything (In warning, anger, frustration, because you’ve seen a mate, because Valencia won last night, or because it’s Tuesday…or Wednesday..or whatever…) Lanes that you are pelting down at 70+ mph simply disappear or suddenly reduce from 6 to 4. Add to which you have (even these days) unhelmeted scooter or motorbike riders protected by nothing more than a bikini or pair of shorts, weaving in and out like mad wasps or hornets….I think you probably get the picture!

But it is exhilarating and I love it!!

© Andy Daly  2010.