Spectre Jim

Spectre Jim

To be known as ‘The Spectre’ one might think that Jim had a ghostly or haunting presence, that he was somehow ‘not-of-this-world-but-a-little-of-the-next’. Not at all, he was a warm and gentle soul from Barnet in north London who came to Manchester Poly to do Business Studies. He arrived at St Clements Road in the Biddy Baxter intake of 1984. Although he moved fairly promptly to nearby Whalley Range, he kept in touch with his Chorlton roots. He would turn up in The Feathers for a bit of banter and liked to kickaround with the softlads on a Sunday. He even inspired the Mad Dog to invest some of his ill-begotten Goblin gains in a saxaphone. Indeed he flitted in and out of the scene for quite a few years after I left Manchester, memorably hosting a historic Longsight weekend in the mid-nineties. This was famous for two things – the foundation of the Tackley dynasty and the ‘Raining Stones’ breakfast in a cafe in Longsight Market. But it was when we moved to Fallowfield that we saw most of him – he was in a big Victorian house on the other side of Alexandra Park and a regular drop-in visitor. One such occasion was the night of the 1987 General Election when my abiding memory is not of the shock-horror prospect of another four years of Margaret Thatcher but Jim with his bottle of Thunderbird, last man standing at sunrise. I thought I could drink anything in those days and quite possibly it was the sight of the smug early-declaring David Amess ‘Today Basildon, Tomorrow the World’ but that stuff left me cold. It was these ‘unannounced’ visits that caused Jim to acquire his name. ‘On spec’ was a common parlence of the time, meaning to turn up somewhere without prior notification. Hence ‘The Spectre’. Such a trait has always been a very good thing in my book but almost unthinkable in these over-organised social-media mobile-phone obsessed times. I salute you, Jim – there needs to be more Spectres in this world and hopefully the next.

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