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Andy Joanides, popular Dartmouth Park garage owner

Car expert known for selling petrol and fixing cars at garage in Highgate Road garage was once on a USSR 'watch list'

08 February, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Andreas Joanides with a member of his staff and cars belonging to Russian Embassy workers expelled by Margaret Thatcher as spies in 1985

ANDY Joanides, who has died aged 83, liked to see the funny side of life.

When a friendly police officer tipped off the NW5-based garage owner that he was on a government “watch list” of people who had relationships with USSR diplomats, the reason tickled him.

Andy had run the garage in Highgate Road for 50 years and expressed little interest in international politics. But through his work, he befriended members of the Russian Trade Delegation, based in Highgate West Hill. When they upgraded their fleet of cars, he’d get first refusal on those being replaced.

Andy at the garage 

It meant he did a good line in selling second-hand diplomat cars, always painted red, that had ferried Russian civil servants about. He would also be wel­comed to vodka-fuelled parties at the USSR’s TASS news agency hous­ing in nearby Dartmouth Park and, when Margaret Thatcher expelled many of the reporters on the pretext they were spies, Andy happily sold their cars for them.

He met thousands of people and made thousands of friends from his perch behind the counter at ASF Garages where he would have a cup of tea on the go and loved a chinwag. Andy did not care who you were or where you were from – he counted everyone, from famous film stars and politicians to tramps, as his friends.

Andy was born in the mining village of Katydhata in the Troodos mountains of Cyprus in the early 1930s. He had a brother, George, who was to become a professional footballer, and a sister, Christoulla, who moved to America. Andy moved to the Cypriot capital of Nicosia as a young man and had various jobs ranging from laying telegraph poles to working for the Cyprus Forestry Commission, before emmigrating to London in 1956.

Andy in the 1970s

He became a mechanic and went into partnership with a Golders Green poultry wholesaler called Harry Simmons. The pair bought a petrol station in Regent’s Park Road and then bought other sites at East Finchley, North Finchley and Chalk Farm before taking control of the Highgate Road station.

Andy was a lifelong Labour supporter, stating that even when he did not agree with every Labour policy, the point was to be loyal and change the party from the inside.

He loved Johnny Walker Black Label Whisky, traditional Greek and English food, Greek fortified wines, and watching football. He didn’t follow a team, but his family are Chelsea fans, so in typical Andy style he would support whatever team Chelsea were playing to wind them up.

Another passion was shooting. He collected shotguns, and was particularly proud of a customised and hand-engraved Baikal, given to him a former head of the then USSR Embassy, and he took great pleasure in writing USSR all over the gun case in black marker.

Andy’s funeral is at 11am on February 14 at the Church Of St. Cosmas & St Damian, the Anargyre, 1 Gordon House Road.

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