The first day of May is filled with all kinds of mystical, mythical and supernatural relevance. In modern times, Mayday has also become popular for demonstrations, and sadly, the farcically-named ‘English Defence League’ decided to adopt Saturday 1st for an ‘anti-Islam’ march in Aylesbury. The crew’s reputaton preceded them, causing the police to ‘strongly advise’, (ie: force) virually all shops, restaurants, bars and clubs to shut down for the day, essentially rendering the town a no-go zone. This included Mirage Club where I was set to DJ for the night. It’s a shame the EDL’s ‘Defence’ principle doesn’t extend to the livelihoods of all the English people who lost a day’s work due to their heavy-handed approach … not that such a thought would enter their bald, thick-necked heads, of course.
Things could only get better, as they say. Happily, on Bank Holiday Sunday they did. This marked the 40th birthday bash for Marcia Bruley, who happens to be the sister of superstar DJ Trevor Nelson. Marcy’s married to Ian, aka Bru, the former art director of Blues & Soul magazine who I worked with for many years, and he’d asked if I would DJ on the night. It was a pleasure. With mature music connoisseurs in the place, I was able to leave all current garbage out and drop a heavy selection of soul, funk, ragga, garage and 90s R&B. Parveen had come out of clubbing retirement for the night, too. The turn-out at Arch Angel in Kensington was immense, and Mrs. Nelson Senior even took a turn on the mic as Marcy’s birthday cake emerged.
The following weekend offered another reason as to why I should consider changing my name to Mark ‘Lucky’ Devlin. In April, I’d missed out on a trip to New York through picking the one weekend of the year when all transatlantic flights were grounded by the volcanic ash cloud. On Saturday 8th, further activity saw a new cloud drifting over Spanish air space, preventing me from getting to Valencia to play that night’s party at Gandhara. Not that this became apparent until I and several hundred others had already spent five tedious hours at Gatwick Airport. Easyjet waited until the very last minute to admit defeat and announce the flight as cancelled. Arriving home at 10.30pm after another wasted Saturday, there was only one thing for it – head straight to the pub.
Wednesday 12th was my birthday, and the high point was my 16-month-old daughter trotting in and handing me a present and a Happy Birthday Daddy card, which she’d written in, (with a bit of help from her Mum.) Otherwise, it was a regular work day, culminating in my radio show at 10pm. This turned out to be one of the liveliest I’d ever done, with both Oxford rapper Chima Anya in the house, (check out his critically-acclaimed ‘New Day’ album, now released,) plus Bristol MC Termz and full crew. A lot of spontaneous freestyle action jumped off, with the two hours zipping by in a flash. It’s all available to listen back to right here.
A couple of nights later, Bath was on the agenda for a return to The Second Bridge. The Vaults area, where I play, has just benefited from a new DVD plasma screen, strobe lights and a re-positioning of the DJ booth, all of which brought welcome improvements.
Saturday 15th was an unusual day, and a highly fulflling one. I headed with my Dad for a day at London’s Brixton Academy, where controversial author David Icke was giving an all-day presentation. My Dad’s a heavy reader, and he got me into Icke’s stuff a while back. 20 years ago, the guy was branded a nutter who had quite clearly lost his mind, (Icke that is, not my Dad.) It’s incredible how far the tide has turned, however, with armies of intelligent, questioning people now paying real attention to what he talks about. The sell-out attendance in Brixton and the rock star status with which he was applauded was testament to this.
There are two levels to what Icke talks about. The first is to point out that the gulf between what we’re told is going on in this world by the mainstream media, and what’s really happening is absolutely immense. Politicians and ‘world leaders’ are mere puppets and figureheads for the real agenda. A lot of people now go along with this.
The second level is what leaves a lot of folk behind. This relates to ‘time’ and ‘reality’ as we understand them, and how neither of these are truly as they appear to be. Admittedly, this is radical stuff, which requires a lot of leaving behind of conventional thought to get your head around. Either way, it was a fascinating day. A shame there was nothing available to eat in Brixton Road other than fried chicken, but there you go.
On Tuesday 18th, I was able to head to Belgium on magazine business in the sure knowledge that the goddam volcano wasn’t going to scupper my travel again. This time, I went by Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels. From there, I headed to Louvain-La-Neuve, a town which consists almost entirely of a university campus. Belgium’s fascinating for being tri-lingual; all signs and announcements appear in Flemish, French and English. Nevertheless, I used the trip to test out some of my rusty French. While I’m hard-pressed to hold a conversation for more than a minute, I was happy that I was able to make myself understood.
The sweltering weekend of the 21st/ 22nd involved two long DJing shifts, at Westow House in Crystal Palace, South London, and Mirage in Aylesbury. In both cases, the hot weather had seemingly caused folk to hit the spots early to get their drink on. On the Monday, Parveen, Zaina and myself joined my folks for a few days’ fam holiday in Torquay. With Zaina waking at dawn, clubbing and late nights were firmly off the agenda. I also managed to spend four days without going on the internet, which must be something of a personal record.
Back down to business for the last weekend, Saturday 29th saw Parveen and myself dragging our friends Claire and Paul to The Bridge in Oxford to mark Claire’s birthday. Then, on Bank Holiday Monday, I headed to the radio for another instalment of Urban Anthems. It’s a show I greatly look forward to putting together, and I’d spent Sunday going through some old vinyl, with crystal-clear memories ringing round my head as clearly as the tunes. The selection consisted of the usual eclectic mix of street soul, hip-hop, new jack swing, jungle, soulful house and slow jams. Naturally, there’s a strong emphasis on the 90s, the best decade of ’em all! If you missed it, the Listen Again links are below. Reminisce and enjoy:
… and that was May.