Andy the Great and the Incident of the Storm and the Chainsaw


Australian’s love their nicknames and it is rare to stumble upon a person without one – Shorty, Bluey, Twig, Chocko, Gazza, Chuck Chunder, Chucky, Wayney Poo, Crooky Monster (that would be me) are a few of my friends.

My better half has a few nicknames and one that we joke around with is Andy the Great. His other nickname is Shirl, and in fact that is what I call him all the time. I didn’t know his name was Andrew until about 10 years after I first met him. I didn’t have a clue what his last name was – he was just Shirl! Shirl the Curl or Shirl the Dirl or Twirley.

He refuses to explain with any degree of clarity where the nickname came from. We have our suspicions that it had something to do with his Alice Cooper hair or that he once worked as a check-out ‘chick’ in Woolworths.

The nickname Andy the Great is easier to explain and involves Andy’s love of power tools and his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, fix anything that needs fixing and help anyone that needs helping.

Years ago before we were married we were driving through Kenmore in Brisbane (where I lived) after a huge storm. Streets were covered with debris and trees were stripped of branches and leaves. Drains resembled playgrounds for white water rafting devotees.

Andy the Great was driving his white Holden work van (he worked as a beer plumber) which he got to use 24/7 and I was the passenger. Suddenly we came upon an uprooted tree that had fallen from someone’s yard and across a footpath and part of the road. Before I could say ‘holey dooley, what the #%$#!’ Andy the Great screeched to a halt, jumping out of the Holden and opened the rear van door. He stretched past his reticulation python and grabbed his beloved chainsaw, grunting in delight (well, that’s what I thought I heard).

Next minute he powered his diesel-guzzling friend into glorious vvvroooooomming (where’s a beat boxer when you need one!) and proceeded to chainsaw large sections of horizontal tree into chunks of manageable lifting-sized bits. This continued until the whole tree had been neatly returned to the footpath – a pile of assorted logs waiting for council removal. At this point a resident of the house (where the tree’s roots remained under soil) came out with mouth open, jaw dropped and expression perplexed.

‘That was quick,’ she gasped, ‘I only rang the council half an hour ago!’

‘No worries’, replied Andy the Great ‘we were just passing and I had my chainsaw in the boot – tell that to the Council workers when they finally arrive’.

With that, he waved goodbye, jumped in the van and we drove off into the sunset.

33 thoughts on “Aussies Love their Nicknames

    1. hahaha – he is good with the gardening Chartreuse 😉 A beer plumber is a plumber who specialises in beer – haha – no, first he was a normal plumber but got sick of blocked toilets and then he moved on to beer reticulation which is the art of moving beer from point A to point B ie., from the keg in a cold room to the taps in the bars of pubs and clubs – he installed all the equipment (beer lines, taps, kegs) and made it operational. He knows most pubs in Queensland and can tell some horror tales of hygiene or lack therof (but doesn’t do that work anymore).

  1. Just loved this story…it was such fun to read…it reminded me of one of my uncles..who was notorious for giving all of us kids nicknames which stuck until we reached adulthood…we never knew how he came up with them.

    1. He is a fine man bluebee (but not without his faults – haha) – and very popular (he seems to have met every person in this small town of ours, which we’ve lived in for about 5 years) and yet I have only met a handful – everywhere we go people wave to him and I say ‘who the hell is that!’.

  2. What a wonderful story. He’s Superman! I notice in the photo on the couch that he’s in a pose a little bit like one of the angels in the picture on the wall. Well, if he just goes around rescuing people willy nilly, I guess an angelic gesture is not unexpected ….

    1. I noticed that too after I uploaded the photo Aletha – he is my guardian angel that’s for sure and more than a little angelic (can you not see the fluffy wings protruding from his blue work singlet – haha).

  3. What a brilliant tale. It’s so Aussie I feel I should be yelling ‘oi!oi!oi!’
    Councils *shakes head* they’re only quick when it comes to taking your money.
    I’m saddled with the nickname ‘Bruce’ because my area manager was sick of accidentally saying ‘Kristie’ instead of Kirstie (even though I corrected him less than half the time) so he dubbed me Bruce instead.

    1. hahahaha – Bruce (my name is Bruce!) – that is hilarious and very okker (oi, oi, oi). My hubby is always whinging about councils – they are like banks that are quick to up the interests rates and slow to bring them down. Thanks Bruce 😉

  4. Good story Gabe, and so well written. You are a brilliant story teller.
    Ok, I am willing to offer my famous cake aux sardines et estragon for a few hours with Andy and his chainsaw, the trees around my garden are way too big now.

    1. He would love to help you Benedicte – but customs might not be impressed with a Shirl on an airplane with a chainsaw on the way to Canada (I can feel a poem coming on) – bwhahahahaha – he is a very good gardener in fact and pruning is his thing 😉

  5. I love this. My husband also has a fixation with power tools, particularly with chain saws. I can actually see his eyes roll around his head in delight like a mad man once he has a chain saw in his hand. But beware. Once he has lopped off a branch or two, he is off – possessed. I then have to get him exorcised. I might add that we don’t have many trees left in our back yard.

  6. Andy the Great is a freakin’ legend. Anyone who carries a chainsaw around in his ute like that can do no wrong in my book. That is epic. Shame you don’t live a bit closer because I have a few tree branches that need trimming. Haha.

    I really like this anecdote – it is told with such affection and there is also a real Aussie feel to it, which, of course, is very cool.

    Shirl and the Crooky Monster – a match made in heaven!

    1. hahaha – thanks tipota – cool is the right word – he is also the king of practical jokes so everyone beware (put it this way – you would never want to be his apprentice or workmate) 😉

      1. oh i come from a family of practical jokers, argh, i never knew what to expect, i had to do it too, for “rank” haha, but i’m not very good at it, it takes a special wit to pull off a good practical joke

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