I was Andy Carson’s interpreter

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STILL STANDING: The Express building in Manchester today

By JEREMY 'JSPK’ GREENAWAY

Having found The Drone, it all brings back wonderful memories of not only the Street, but particularly Ancoats, where I started as a sub at the age of just 20 — I'd been hired a a couple of months earlier before my birthday.

Anyway, I'll just start by recalling that I was transferred to London when they got a bit short 'just to fill for a couple of months’.

I arrived in the office at the same time as Andy Carson, who'd likewise been shipped in from Glasgow. No-one could understand a word he said, due to his rich Port Glasgow accent.

However, I got to know it, and Andy, well as we were both billeted in the Great Northern Hotel,  sharing a suite 'just for a few nights as rooms are very scarce’.

It turned out to be more than a few nights — and after about six weeks of this existence Andy decided enough was enough, even though we had the privilege of being chauffeured back to the hotel in the Editor's limo.

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We were in the Press Club (the original one) in the early hours when Eric Raybould, pictured right, strode in. There was some difference in stature between the two, with Andy somewhere around 5ft6ins and with a stature of a polecat, and Eric more a strip club bouncer.

Andy, who was still on the sober side, went up to Eric and a conversation something like this took place: (you have to imagine the sharply annunciated Port Glasgie accent)

'Eh, Ray . . . wadda fuckyer playin at? Has the fuckin Express nay money to pay its people? Jeremy and I have been stuck in the same fuckin' hotel room for near a month . . . wozza fuckin game?'

Eric turned to me and asked: 'Waddee fucking say?'

I interpreted and explained how we'd shacked up in the same double room (even if it was a large one) since our arrival. and that while we appreciated the limo service, we were both somewhat pissed off.

Ray was taken aback, pulled his large cigar out and confessed he had no idea about the situation, and would sort it the next day. And he did.

We were both upgraded to better hotels until we sorted ourselves permanent accommodation, as by now we had been transferred to London full time.

Over the next few years Andy would, of course, be elevated to greater heights, but there were innumerable excitements and excursions along the way. But those are other stories.

LETTER TO HIS LORDSHIP

My Lord,

How nice to see a picture of the wonderful Express building in Ancoats featured in the Daily Drone. And to read the tale of Andy Carson and his impenetrable accent.

Andy was on the middle bench when I entered the Express newsroom in Manchester in 1974. About 7.30pm he brought over a huge wodge of copy — expertly filleted by that prince of copytasters Stan Welsh, no doubt; but still a week’s worth of reading — and dropped it in front of me.

I can’t remember the story but there was lots of AP and Reuter’s copy so it might have been the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.“How long?” I asked. He did an impression of a Frenchman playing the accordion. (The Express was then a broadsheet and story lengths were a bit more elastic than they became in our tabloid days.) 

He then said something which, being half-Scottish, I was able to translate as: “How the fuck do I know, it’s not even 8 o’clock yet!”

I left Manchester for London a couple of years later and had a leaving do at the Castle pub in Oldham Street. As I was carried out at two in the morning, toes dragging across the lino, the last voice I heard was Andy’s: “Oh, go on - just a wee Bell’s and a light ale.”

May I say, my Lord, that your mighty organ becomes more impressive by the day?

DICK DISMORE (Late of Her Majesty’s Daily Express)

*****

ROGER WATKINS adds: I have much enjoyed the recollections about Andy Carson and his excruciating accent. If he gave you a story to sub it was virtually impossible to comprehend any accompanying “brief” but, being the Express, these were pretty rare anyway.

In fact, there was only one sentence I remember him enunciating perfectly every time: ‘A wee Bells and a light ale.’

I recall one night I was on Late Shift and, as I passed the Albion at about 9.50pm, I could hear boisterous roaring, female giggles and the sound of broken glass.

At 4.10am next day I passed the Albion on my way home and could still hear boisterous roaring, female giggles and the sound of broken glass.

It was Andy’s leaving ‘do’.



© 2005-2020 Alastair McIntyre