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Podcast script - Monday, May 11, 2020

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Well good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise its Monday 11th May and today is the 65th birthday of one of our Village characters. All Villages have their personalities, but I think you’ll agree that we have more than our fair share. We’ve had Aitch, Cuffy the Duck Wrangler, Chris Blom the Tulip man and Glenn our action man hero.

So today it’s happy 65th Birthday to Andy Horn, he lives in St Georges Row with his brothers Bruce and Alan. If you are pub regular, you’ll know Andy. If you are Chelveston or Caldecott resident, you’ll also know Andy as he walks up the hill for his daily constitutional most days, dressed most of the year in a baseball cap and thick jacket. Before the lock down, Andy and John Britten, also from St Georges Row would walk together every other day. But since the lock down Andy unfortunately takes his daily walk alone.

He always rests at Melvyn’s bench in Caldecott and I have a lovely picture from Melvyn of Andy and John on the bench which I’ll put into the newsletter.

Now we usually make a fuss of Andy on his birthday down the pub. If it coincides with a Saturday then it’s always a great knees up. This year would have been extra special with a big party and with Karaoke – and for once we might have even let him sing. But more of that later.

Andy’s life used to revolve around pub life. He’d be there propping up the bar in the same spot several nights a week, except on Thursday night when he’d be sitting playing cards. Other than popping to the doctors in Kimbolton, a bit of shopping in Raunds, and the occasional trip to Bedford, he doesn’t leave the Village much. The loss of the pub has hit him hard so I decided that we’d cheer him up a bit. So today Andy Horn This is your life! Sit back folks, it’s a little longer than usual by why miss stuff out?

The funny thing is, a few years ago after yet another near miss in hospital Andy booked me to do his eulogy at his funeral. He’d heard me speak at several Village funerals and decided that I could tell his story. So now he gets to hear it whilst still alive. Hopefully, that’s a bonus!

Andy Horn was born in Hargrave, the 6th child of nine, 5 boys and 4 girls. Their father was an agricultural worker, so it must have been tough feeding and clothing 9 children. In 1968, the family moved to a farm near Melchbourne, and then to Riseley in 1988. Andy started his schooling in Raunds but finished it in Riseley. His first job was in the bakery in Upper Dean in August 1970.

Andy’s teenage years and his 20s were spent in the pubs of Swineshead and Upper Dean, where he was definitely a regular. He used to get to the pubs on his motor scooter, but then had the challenge of going home after a few pints. Drink driving laws weren’t quite so strict in those days but Andy was always careful when coming home, stopping when any car came near. However, one day it did go wrong, and Andy ended up in a ditch with the motorbike on top of him. It was only when the local bobby stopped to relieve himself that he noticed the flashing back light of the bike in the ditch. Andy survived with several broken ribs and a painful ear from the telling off he got from the copper.

Andy was captain of the skittles team at the Compasses in Upper Dean the year they won the local league. The landlord mixed them up a special cocktail to celebrate, called the Golden Daisy. None of the other team members liked the look of it so Andy had to drink the lot. As you can imagine, he was rather worse for wear that night and records don’t show whether he actually made it home or not.

In 1975 Andy left the bakery and joined Bedford Council as a bin man, a job he enjoyed for 15 years. He liked being outdoors. During this time Andy continued to enjoy the odd pint or two and I think he’d be the first to admit that his waistline grew a little. It got to the stage when he was struggling to keep up with the bin wagon. So in 1990, the Council moved him to the “Voids” team, clearing council houses that had been vacated.

This was a fascinating job, but sometimes quite sobering. I was in Andy’s quiz team at the pub for many years and the tales he would tell would make your hair stand on end. There was an upside to the job. Every so often, the team would find valuables in the clearance. There was a strict code of ethics as to how the spoils of clearance would be divided according to seniority in the clearance team. I can’t imagine how the Council would have reacted if they had known!

The job wasn’t without risks. In 1996, when I first got to know Andy, he had scratched himself at work and the result was a very serious infection. That was the first time I saw Andy unable to drink in the pub because of antibiotics. To watch a seasoned drinker looking at a pint of orange squash is just pitiful. I wondered why he even bothered going to the pub, but he pointed out to me that he went for the friendship and camaraderie, the beer was just the bonus. The Star and Garter is quite literally at the heart of Andy’s life.

In 2002, some daft supervisor asked Andy to climb and ladder to clear stuff at a great height. Now those of you that know Andy can’t imagine the idea of him up a tall ladder. And the worst did happen, he came crashing down and was very seriously injured. We didn’t think he’d recover at all, but fortunately he did. However, his injuries meant that he wasn’t well enough to go back to his old role. Eventually, Bedford Council admitted that they were at fault and settled with him, awarding a small lump sum. This has kept him going since and he has been carefully eeking out his money, just waiting for the day that his pension would come in. Today Andy, that day has come!

In 2010, Andy was diagnosed as diabetic and again he had to cut his beer intake. Andrea was mortified, there was a dramatic drop in pub takings. Again, out came the orange squash and he reduced the number of nights he went up there. However, after several pints of orange squash, he would often reward himself with a couple of glasses of port to finish the evening. All I can say is don’t try that at home folks.

Andy has faced much adversity but can always be relied on to be cheery and to laugh at his troubles. In 2011, he was delivering a Christmas card to Tony and Christine Brooks which involves a climb up their steps in Duchy Close. Andy suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Papworth Hospital. They kept him waiting a couple of hours before operating to fit a stent. The surgeon apologised and said that they’d been practising on the Duke of Edinburgh before attending to Andy. Prince Phillip had been flown into Papworth from Sandringham, arriving a few minutes before Andy, so he got preference. Can you imagine the story if Andy had arrived first and kept the Duke waiting!

Andy stayed in hospital overnight but he was just buzzing, and left hospital next day. He was in the pub that night telling us the tale of his latest narrow escape, but again back on the dreaded orange squash.

Andy always likes to do his bit for charity. When Robin and Joan ran the pub, they would do an annual Easter egg run to the local Children’s home. All the pub bikers would ride in convoy, huge impressive bikes the lot of them. At the front of the parade would be Robin on his big beasty Honda Goldwing and next to him would be Andy with his BMW motor scooter complete with its all weather cab and windscreen. Andy loved that bike. The only other person who had one that I know of was Ralph Schumacher, so Andy was in good company.

Andy’s latest disaster was in 2019. He was pootling along on his new motor scooter in Raunds (Ralph’s BMW had finally bitten the dust) A car pulled out of Titty Ho Garage straight into Andy smashing him to the ground. He suffered several broken ribs and there was a fear that his lungs had been punctured. He was sent immediately to Kettering General, but was then transferred overnight the Coventry and Warwick Hospital. We thought it was certainly curtains this time.

Weeks went by but eventually he came back to the Village. But we didn’t see Andy out and about, he was in too much pain.

However, the day finally came when Andy emerged again and managed to extend his walk each day to reach Melvyn’s bench once more. So all was right with the world.

But what about the karaoke? Well Andy is a quiet chap, until he has a few beers inside him. At the end of a Karaoke night, Andy eventually gets up to sing. Unfortunately, he seems to pick songs which he can strip off too. Now Andy is no Chippendale ladies, but he is not afraid of getting his kit off! Andrea eventually decided that enough was enough and that he couldn’t sing karaoke again, he could just listen. I have the photographs to prove this and they’ll be in the newsletter too.

So Andy, if we had been in the pub tonight for you 65th birthday, I am sure Naomi would have let you have the floor. It isn’t every day that a man draws his pension and wants to celebrate by sharing everything he has with his friends – quite literally.

Have a happy birthday Andy and we’ll see you for a proper knees up on the other side.

Cheers mate

Thank you