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D.J. Dave Meets Bryan

D.J. “China” Dave walked into a veteran, grubby bar, having just been paid off from his local radio station.

He was called such because he had the burnished Alan Johnson look with narrow eyes and grey hair.

They didn't say it was because he was too old; they couldn't. They said he no longer fitted the evolving image of the station, but they were happy for him to do promos in his last days, so long as the weren't too high profile.

He glanced at the few old men passing the day reading the sports' papers before ordering a pint. He felt more at home here than in the hipster pub next to the station.

He was gulping it down when his gaze slipped to a bony hand clutching the dirty brass rail next to him at the bar.

“Howdy! Can you stand me a round?” came a gruff voice.

As Dave's head jerked round to see if he knew this guy, he forgot he was still drinking, causing him to spill his pint down his body-warmer, which he luckily wore over his shirt.

He slammed down his empty glass and looked round abruptly, brushing away the spillage from his front.

“Why? Do I know you?”

“You tell me.” What scorched Dave's eyes was a story of dereliction even worse than himself. Here was a man fallen on hard times. He had a crumpled Crombie, which hid a lot, beneath which stuck out pin-striped trousers and battered pit boots. At the opposite end of the Crombie was a blue work shirt with frayed collar topped by a gaunt face and straight hair that was ruffled and greying. There was a musty smell coming from him through the beer.

The man half-smiled, showing incongruously white perfect teeth which obviously weren't natural.

“--or buy me a pint and I might tell you,” he continued.

“What's your name?”

“Bryan – with a 'y'.”

“Bryan what?”

“Here.” He produced a battered photo from a fat, battered, old, brown wallet. It was of a suave young man with sleek black hair in a bow tie and a white dinner jacket. He instantly recognized him. He did not see any money in the wallet, but thought that Bryan was hiding a lot of it on the side he hadn't opened, judging from its size.

“That's Bryan Ferry!” remarked Dave.

“That's me,” replied “Bryan”.

Dave laughed. “Okay, 'Bryan'. You've come down in the world a bit, supping in here asking me for a pint, but I'll go along with it for now.” He was struggling to realize a thought into an opportunity as he said it.

“Here you go, son. Tell you what: how do you fancy making some money? I'm China Dave, the D.J. Pleased to meet you!”

Bryan returned a reedy laugh: “China Dave, eh? What's your story?”

“What's yours?”

“I told you, I'm Bryan.”

Dave laughed cynically. This guy reminded him too much of himself. “Okay, Byran. How did you end up in a dive like this?”

“We've all got to have time to ourselves sometimes. I'm in disguise. I'm meeting a few mates in here, incognito, like. Old buddies, you know.” He drew a sigh. “I'm playing up at the Sage. It's a big tour, so I thought I'd park here to avoid the scrum. The life of a rock star, you know.” He laughed ironically.

“Okay, Bryan, the score with me is, I'm a D.J. But I've been hung out to dry. They're being funny with me for being too popular. They want someone older, who's a bit less hip. “ Dave wiggled his hips in burlesque parody. “Apparently there are a lot of grannies listen to my show and I'm too hot for them!”

Bryan nodded. “What station is it?”

Dave told him.

Bryan shook his head. “Never heard of it myself.”

“It's a big enough station. You're local, aren't you? It's been around as long as you. You must have heard of it. It's been here when you were growing up. It was only on medium wave then.”

Bryan remained impassive. “I didn't listen to much radio. Never had the time. Was always too busy on the road all the time.”

Dave sniffed. “How come you're asking me to buy you a pint, if you're so famous?”

“Tied up in the stock market, I'm afraid. Cash flow problem:- isn't it always?”

“I see. Well you can buy me one when it starts flowing again, or I could make it flow for you.”

“How's that, then?” Bryan looked intently, but not directly at Dave.

“It's gonna be a piece of cake, with your reputation, name, looks and voice. Let me lay it out for you. Before they got rid of me, they gave me a franchise to use their brand name on anything I want. As I was no good to them on air any more, they sent me round stores, D.J.ing in there. People thought I was going out live on air, because I had a stand with their logo behind me and even a couple of promo girls with me, but what I was really doing was getting them to sign up for some cheap tat and a pen in return for their details and money. Their details got sold onto marketing companies. All they got in return was a mention on the store's P.A., which they thought was going out live on the radio. Half a mile down the road, there was another bloke doing the same thing.”

Ferry said nothing.

“If I could use your name to hook them, we'd be rolling in it.”

“Maybe. We'll see. Where are you located?”

Dave put his arm round Bryan's shoulder. “Come outside and you'll see.

Outside there was a battered butcher's van used to flog meat from at markets. “It's my mate's. It's just to get us to the gigs, that's all, but there might be a little side line there as well, just in case business is slow to pick up. Now, about that investment you said you had. How easy would it be to get at it if, say, I let you in as a business partner?”

October 2015.

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