Devious Dave

Devious Dave

Not long after The Kid and I met Devious Dave, Morrissey wrote a hurtful yet accurate song called Dagenham Dave. We were designing and handing out leaflets and had just hit our prime, sunny days in south Manchester, cash in our pockets and shiny new u-locks for our bikes. The cash-rich seam of Mancunian nightlife with its 90,000 students had been penetrated. Thatcher’s mirror image faux prosperity of Harold Macmillan’s ‘You’ve never had it so good’ was in full late eighties swing and gave birth to many an entrepreneur, not least Devious Dave. One day he invited me to see his empire. I got on my bike and rode up to the curiously fashionable but seedy Oldham Street area, just north of Piccadilly Gardens. Factory Records hadn’t yet opened their cute leftfield watering hole Dry Bar part-owned by New Order, but this area at the time had classy vinyl record shops, Afflecks Palace and style in abundance. Devious Dave was Tim Wetherspoon with bells on, only fifteen years ahead of his time. They might have come from different backgrounds but they shared a similar vision. They also understood alcohol. Tugging my arm conspiratorially, Dave led me down a dark alleway into a huge musty old Victorian public house. It was a Tuesday lunchtime and the place was packed with punters, pints in hand, Motown blaring out of the jukebox. This was a smokey boozer with real edge, in fact, at any moment you expected a good old-fashioned OK Corral punch-up to break out before normal business resumed. ‘I OWN THIS PUB, PAUL’ HE SAID – ‘LETS GO UPSTAIRS’ . We entered his office, a large spacious boardroom with leather chairs and a massive framed diploma hanging on the wall. It was awarded for ‘business administration’ from the University of ‘I-have-paid-for-this’. We got on well, talking football and politics, but when I broached the subject of the imminent expansion of our firm Spiffing Images Design, he cut me. ‘Paul, I worked bloody hard for that qualification and my business consultancy fee is eighty pounds an hour’. Devious Dave also owned several other hostelries in Manchester including a bierkeller near Piccadilly train station. We continued to work for him and were paid handsomely. In fact I grew to like him, always buzzing around, holding forth on any punt, from horse-racing or who would win the next election. A few years later when I was working for the Guardian newspaper just before Thatcher was deposed by her own and replaced by a grey dull accountant by the name of John Major, I heard he had opened a nightclub called The Factory. I never saw it. I imagine Devious is sunning himself on the Costa del Sol right now, drinking DP and enjoying himself taking a bird for a ride on his yacht. Good luck to him. November spawned a monster and the eighties spawned many a wide business tyke. Some prospered and many did not. ‘Danny will stand you a pint at the bar on your way out, mate’. Dave never drank in his own pubs.

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