Home from Home

Between 9am and 9.30am I go into the centre of Manchester and seek out two pairs of very particular jeans. One pair are True Religion and the others are Sevens! I source them. I buy them. They are the bomb.

Mid morning breakfast meeting Dave Haslam at The Malmaison. Later on in the day hewill  be interviewing individually all the surviving members of Joy Division who became New Order, for a documentary on the Joy Division for XFM. Dave is reading from his books  - he’s published by fourth estate -  at my event at The South Bank  24 hour Party People?   on 9th November.   It’s going to sell out  so I suggest if you want to come buy quickly. There is limited availability. It'll be in the  brand new venue The Spirit Level.

Dave Haslam former Hacienda DJ is a quiet genius.  We got talking about stuff. I like chatting about stuff.  Dave teaches at Salford university. He’s not doing it for  money.He doesn’t need that. He is doing it because he loves what he does and wants toshare it. He’s doing it because he knows that if ever there was a litmus paper test for what’s hot and what’s not in music in Manchester it’s the student. If it wasn’t for the students of Manchester there wouldn’t have been a Manchester Scene no  factory records, no Happy Mondays, no Stone Roses.  And in his university module - Ithink it is about the record industry and music industry – he gets to share his knowledge. At the same time he writes books and he DJs around the world.  He also has a weekly programme that goes out on XFM. He was recruited by XFM at the same time as Anthony H Wilson was recruited. When Anthony begun his programme on XFM about two years ago  I was the first person he wanted to interview on the programme. It was the last time Ispoke to him.  I had just moved to london and was going through an horrendous time, both missing manchester and having difficulty embedding in my new home.  I didn't travel back to do that interview. As it happens the first person Anthony H Wilson interviewed on thatprogramme  was Sean Ryder.  (check) 

He lives in music does Dave Haslam . I waxed on about the gig last night in Rochdale and got  talking about how it doesn’t matter where you are on the planet -   a good gig is a good gig whether in the wilds of Lancashire in a small bookshop on the edge of a hill or The Royal Festival Hall.  And “good” isn’t good enough. “special” is right.   

We talk of the value of this and how there are people in our respective industries  pathalogically concerned with their position. These people compare gigs like they are football cards in the school yard. Ronnie Scotts Ten Points,  Book shop in Sussexseven points North of England five points or below – local press two points national press seven points.   “when people define their career as league tables” says Dave “they can never ever win cause if you view things in terms of lea ue tables there is always someonehigher than you are. And then when you’ve reached the top of your own defined league table where is there to go, by definition it is down.” It’s a perfect analogy. And then he says totally unselfconsciously  and totally without ego or pretension “me,  I’m in a league of my own!”. I understand him exactly and liken his innocent drawing of the phrase “league of my own” to mine.   I am never in competition with anyone in my field therefore when people  try to compete “there is no competition”.  It draws me to a poem I wrote called Apple Cart Art which ends

Cut yourself, it should be ink your bleedingYou’re only as good as your last readingLet wisdom be the weight of your wealthAnd your greatest competitor be yourself.

“I was an anorak” says Dave. “I’d trawl the gigs of Manchester. Little gigs with hardly any attendance, with new bands and I’d follow the fanzines and then I’d chat with the bands and I’d have a bag of cassettes”. It wasn’t hip. I didn’t wear the right clothes. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I looked almost odd. The band members loved me because I loved the music.   I tell my students follow your own spirit go to the small gigs”. He’s on a roll. “I attended a small gig in Manchester. There was three hundred people. It was in a small hole in Birmingham. It would turn out to be the last ever gig that Joy Division would play before their lead singer Ian Curtis died.  It was electric. It made you feel that something was happening.  Compare that to the scissor sisters filling the GMEX and you tell me which one has greater cultural significance”.  More electricity was generated by the band in that performance than in an entire tour of  manufactured stadium appearances.

"It's in this small world that great things happen." he tells me "I mean how else would you get to say to the lead singer of a band after talking music 'hey  want to come back to mine for some cauliflower cheese'  and then go to the grants, do you remember the grants pub, for a beer."  The singer was morrisey. The last time I did  a gig for Dave, with my then band Mick Hucknall was there in the audience. So i can truly say that  Mick Hucknall has seen me live more times than I have seen him". 

Nathan McGough former manager of Happy Mondays  pops in to see Dave. Nathan is the step son of Roger McGough but I know of him more through the Manchester scene. Apparently we’ve met before. We all sit and chat (Nathan catchs up with Dave) for a short while and then disperse. I walk from this Manchester -  this home from home -  and  catch the train home.

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