Friday 15 December 2023

Sandy Beds

"This new addition is ideal for the inner city motorist"
My first road atlas, the one that lived in most of my early cars, was the one I bought the first time I ever flew solo to London. Getting to, through and back out of, the capital was, for a seventeen year old rookie, nothing short of a herculean task. Planning the route in advance only got me so far; the live plotting of the journey with said atlas open on my knee whilst simultaneously navigating the contours of the Great North Road and dodging the wagons, was a skill that had to be learned pretty fast (and in London the atlas was replaced with my trusty A-Z); that and checking oil and water gauges every five minutes on my (not so) trusty Vauxhall Viva Rockbox, whose dodgy radiator would overheat so randomly it placed the driver in peril more times then I care to remember. (Please don't talk to me about 'the Biggleswade incident, I beg you.)

No clockwise. No anti-clockwise

So the A1 became my most travelled road. Long before it was turned into an eight lane autobahn it was full of, roundabouts, traffic lights, discarded cassette tape fluttering in hedges by the roadside and glimpses of towns like Stamford and Sandy; or Sandy Beds as I have to call it. Then the tortuous crawl through Hatfield long before the Galleria and the tunnel beneath and then  finally into London. To younger readers who can't remember a time when the M25 didn't circle London, I grew up in a world where the M25 was just a glint in a town planner's eye. To get south of the river meant crossing Tower Bridge. But, hey as our good friend Alyson would surely say now, this is a music blog not a 70s Top Gear repeat with William Woodard - where's the bloody tune?

Well, in the same way that Sandy is always Sandy Beds, so Aylesbury (not on the A1 I grant you, but close by) is always Aylesbury Bucks. Don't ask me why, it just is. I guess I still have some obscure misplaced affection for the town I only remember visiting the once a million years ago. Which in a roundabout (groan) way leads me nicely to one of this year's finest long players, I Thought I Was Better Than You, Baxter Dury's 8th album. This was the first single he lifted from it:

Baxter Dury - Aylesbury Boy (2023)


  1. I still like to use an atlas rather than Google or Sat Nav.

  2. Scotland looks really small on that cover, especially the Highlands where I live - Highland region is always quoted as being the same size as Begium whenever a comparison needs to be made.

    My dad was a great fan of the Vauxhall Viva and he renewed it every year through my teenage years. Some nice colours but one was an orangey yellow that reminded you of the colour of sick!

    Mr WIAA always adds the county too after working in the post office at Christmas whilst a student. He can’t help himself.

    1. Your dad had great taste, Alyson. Mine was an aqua turquoise kinda colour. 0RR 729 F - top speed 60mph if I was lucky; stalled at traffic lights if I wasn't.

  3. Lovely post - and there's something very special about maps. Far more aesthetically pleasing than any SatNav. I very much concur with the Sandy Beds thing too, there's no other way to refer to it. Also always think of 'The Lodge' when I think of it - the RSPB's head office address. I remember that right back from my childhood, think they must have been there forever.
    I used to drive under throught that tunnel under the Galleria every day for a few years in the late '90s for my job at the time. Horrible!

    1. Maps, stamps, postcards - the things that are unique to where we come from.
      Earlier in the year I was in Brick Lane and there was a guy there selling nothing but maps; I could''ve spent a small fortune in there.

    2. I know the feeling. A few years ago when helping to clear out my dear departed aunt's and uncle's large, rambling bursting-to-the-seams house, we found a whole cupboard full of just maps. Mainly OS ones and dating back to the 1940s. Oh I could have kept them all but... don't have the large, rambling house or cupboard space. If only I had known I would have sent you a few...!
      Postcards too, now you come to mention it.

    3. Maps lie flat - they take up hardly any room! If any more map hoarding rellies peg it, you know where I am:)