Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Coming home to Bradford

I've just got back from a conference in Leeds and I'm so pleased that I took the opportunity to grasp an evening to myself and return to the town where I went to university and where I met the woman I married and loads of other people, including Ian, who is in the picture on a blog below, and who I wrote about when he died. First stop, the Fighting Cock pub, which hasn't changed in 25 years. Two pints later and I was ready for the nostalgia walk.

Home sweet home

I braced myself - wasn't it a long way to Summerseat Place? Well, not really, but I think my circle of activity was very minimal back in the 80's. The biggest surprise was that the Italia cafe, famed for its artery-clogging food and cups of tea so strong a spoon could stand up straight in them, is gone. It's replacement, actually looking mighty fine, is pictured. I took the bull by the horns and went round the back of the house. Coming down the street was an older Pakistani man who was very interested why I was walking down his road looking at his house. I explained the situation. We had a lovely chat and he almost persuaded me to stay.

Prudent accomodation

I'm sure that things changed in most places over 25 years: it's just a shock to see students excercising on running machines that are observable from Great Horton Road. We didn't do that...And then there was the letter box. The one that Ian and I jumped over - well he did, I never made it. It's pictured. Still going strong in 2010 and still leaning to the right a bit weirdly.

Then it rained on me heavily - very Bradford.

Take me to the Kashmir

At the conference there was a delegate who I was at Bradford with all those years ago and he opined that these days we're more likely to go to the more upmarket curry houses. (There are plenty around Great Horton Road). I didn't want to do this. I noticed a couple of old timer curry houses had closed. But not the Kashmir. The site where I had my first Bradford curry and where my wife met Mari Wilson when she played the University in about 1984. It's certainly a bigger place now, the Kashmir. But, and I noticed this as I passed a couple of other curry houses, the smell of a Bradford curry stays the same and is like no other. My chicken and mushroom rogan josh with onion bhaji was brought with spoon and not much ceremony. Neon lights, formica tables and the best curry in the world. Heaven.


There's been an awful situation regarding some recent murders. This has to be mentioned as much of the publicity occurred whilst I was in Leeds and Bradford.

Back to Leeds

As the train pulled out of the Interchange I felt so happy that I'd been back and that I'd done it on my own. I was soaking wet and very happy. Happy to remember the completely brilliant time I spent in Bradford from 1982-1986.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tribute to Charlie Gillett

Written following news that Charlie Gillett died on 17 March 

It all started on a boat from Hong Kong to China in 1987. This guy was playing Kassav and I thought it sounded interesting..............roll forward a few months later and we'd just moved into our new flat. A promo came on Capital Radio and it was Charlie Gillett talking about his show later that evening. He was going to play a track by the Jo'burg City Stars (Grooving Jive #1) and I stuck a tape in, turned the sound down and had a listen the next day.

Charlie Gillett 

This was it.......I'd found "A World of Difference." During that period at Capital, Sunday nights became my staple listen and I recorded most of the shows onto cassette. (more on that in a moment...) He introduced me to so many amazing artists from Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens to Youssou NDour to Joe Arroyo y la Verdad....but it was the interesting guests he had on his shows on Capital, plus GLR and BBC London that made those shows so special. Mexican bands in session,an over-enthusiastic Sam Mangwana, it was all in the shows. I still have a signed Kandabongoman CD I won on his show and I have recordings of a couple of times he mentioned my name.

The 'A world of difference' tapes

I was lucky enough to meet Charlie in person. This is the story about those Capital tapes; I had two years' worth of the show on cassette (c60's and c90's). We moved house in 2004 and my wife said they had to go. I was working at BBC London and I instigated a handover moment with Charlie, through his producer Paul Leaper. So I finally got to meet Charlie, even though I'd seen him in the office many times. But here I was handing over his tapes to him. Embarrassingly I used to just write out the names of the artists phonetically on the tape box, so he probably cringed at some of my spellings. Even now I can't find half of the artists on Spotify because I mis-spelt them 22 years ago.

Thank you Charlie

Charlie Gillett didn't just introduce me to world music; he introduced me to many many artists. If there's any way that his family can know how much enjoyment Charlie has dished up for me, then I hope it will help them at this sad time.

Rest in peace Charlie. To me, you made a world of difference.