Ordinary World

Shared by Andrew Willmott on September 21, 2019
How best to capture what makes a friendship? One that lasted over 30 short years.
All in a name
But what name…He was of course Douglas and Doug and Dougie and of course Bolty (a link to Frankenstein and his long neck). The shortened version “DJ” of course gave rise to many music links.

I met Douglas when in 1998, I’d just moved from Scotland to a job in Wokingham. GDC had won deals resulting in our team of three became five teams of two on rotating shifts. We’d hangout both in and out of work. Alan and I soon secured a house in Binfield, then filled it with Mikey and John leaving a box room. This became a party house and DJ unofficially moved into a tiny box room in the front.

My Way!
Single minded? Bloody minded? He would say focused and determined…DJ and Alan would debate, jostle, argue, harang each other over just about any topic – and god help anyone that got between them – it was frequently me. I took me ages to realise they loved the banter.

On Entertainment
During our time in Binfield music was an essential component of every day. For Alan and I rock ruled but DJ quickly introduced the house to Duran Duran, Depeche mode. Albums like Violator and Big Thing are now forever linked to Douglas.
Blackadder2 and the actors – their heroic stances and teaching Prince George to say wooooah will forever be DJ. In fact last year on exiting a London taxi in the middle of trendy Covent Garden DJ saw me – didn’t even say hi – just assumed their heroic pose with groin out and arms aloft …and WOOOAH was our greeting after not seeing each other for years. I’m sitting here grinning just thinking about it.
The Fast Show – DJ and accents have always been a great combo.. he thought he was 9/10 when in fact it was really more like 4 but no matter. ‘Cheesy Peas’ and ‘Scortchio’ were faves of his… This caused endless mirth as the wine flowed and his accents got worse.

On Holidays & Seasonal Fun
Pelforth in Normandy. We decided on a cycling tour of Normandy with Mark and Kevin. Evenings quickly had a structure and rhythm. Find a campsite (or place we’d not get nicked) – pitch tents, get food going then the beers hunt aka Pelforth Run would start. Pelforth Blonde and Brun became the tipple of choice and we drank crates of it! My abiding memory of that 2wk tour was peddling down into LeHavre to the sound of Van Morrison “Moondance”. I love that tune.

He loved to travel but hated the cold and that took him to Atlanta!
He marched us all up the Old Man Of Conniston and marched us all down again.

At Christmas for years we’d do a friends Christmas meal – a huge affair with tons of food and wine…and as day follows night eventually DJ offered to host at his house. This was the scene of a heroic culinary event. We all rocked up expecting the using fare. But No! DJ had chosen his own path to legendary status….he side stepped the risks of spuds and sprouts to make a vat of Turkey Curry! Nice dodge and it was good too!

On Fashion and Style
DJ liked to look good – sharp – you know FINE!!!. The line I loved related to his favourite designer shirts. Mr Ted Baker. DJ loved nothing more than meticulously ironing his chosen ‘bit of Ted’ for a night out in London. Alan of course use to take great delight in mocking the shallowness of this style victim but it was water of a ducks back. He may have had more money as years passed but I still see Ted, think if him and grin.

At Home with Bolty
I lived with or near DJ for years. The exact number is more than 5 but who cares Binfield, Weybridge, Walton they were great years. This meant sharing a love of F1 and Mr Shooting Boots – great times were had. I partly lived with Alan and DJ in Clapham (Claam) when as engineers we were given car phones and expenses,
Cooking in his early twenties was challenging for DJ – and risky for us as he could burn water! He would why frozen sausages could be brown outside but raw inside! His frustration was evident but he worked to learn (or starve)…but once he’d found a way to make his creations ‘good’ that was THE WAY and no-one and nothing would sway it. Time and practice improved his culinary talent. He loved it.

In this last year DJ, Mark and I decided on some bucket list restaurants. No1 was Rumours and No2 was to Simpsons on Strand. Both will live long in the memory. He even let me hear his adventures in music and his first track...was planning an album. What a man!

In 1999 he agreed to be my best man. A close run thing and his speech was outstanding so I recall.

What makes up the many faces of the DJ I knew? My words falter – Alan is better than I. In my mind he’ll be thinking of the next plan for success, next composition or next family holiday adventure. He’ll be pounding along some bike trail or the beltway on his bike. DJ memories make me smile – a lot!
He was simply my best man....

We never thought it would happen to Douglas in Clapham

Shared by Alan MacLeod on September 10, 2019
Sadly, the photos are missing - (but thanks to Difford and Tilbrook for the title)

These stories mean so much to me, and DJ and I often retold them with fantastic embellishments, so please humor me, and imagine a 22-23 year old DJ strolling around in his first flat. It was around 1989, DJ and I shared a flat (apartment) in Clapham, London (known to the Sloane Rangers at the time as Clarm). We were the cool Dynamic Team Two that had uprooted from the phones and moved to the city. We had mobile phones, but they were attached to the company car - two more city-wise, street hip dudes there had never been.

DJ - the Chef: probably the first story that needs to be told is quite banal, but for all you fans of Douglas' gourmet cooking - this is how it started.  DJ couldn't cook, at all, usual funny lines about being unable to boil water - but its only funny when it isn't true. His mum, sisters and dad (and probably Martin) had fed him his whole life - to him, kitchens were places where family members prepared his meals, it connected the living room with the garden (back yard), and were a convenient place to meet people at parties. They certainly weren't a place where a fashionable Durany would be found being creative, unless the aforementioned meeting people was taking place, where creativity was very much at home. Fortunately for DJ, despite being the same age, I was familiar with many aspects of the kitchen, having spent 6 years somewhat catering for myself. The agreement was struck, I'd feed him, he'd learn to cook, and then we'd share the cooking. It started with a few simple questions, and then the DJ pedantic mindset kicked in - why did the beans go on then, how did I know the sausages were almost cooked, how could anyone tell the level or preparedness of something in the oven with the door closed. Notes were taken, minutes were counted and slowly emerged the guy you know - and when I say slowly, I mean slowly - he'd moved to Atlanta (some 10 years later) before any hint of kitchen prowess was apparent. During the Clapham times, Douglas perfected Turkey Cheese Burgers, Baked Beans and Oven Chips - don't knock it, three different cook times, an oven and a pan - and it was delicious - or we went out for Italian down the road.

DJ - the giver: after another mindless day (we worked together as well), a midweek quiet beers with friends was in order. Jacqui and Andi popped over and the relaxing began - with appropriate tunes in the background (Duran Duran, Big Thing; The The, Infected would have certainly made a showing). As the beers flowed, (Hamby's of Wem, Shropshire was the tipple of choice) it quickly came obvious that this was a two speed group - DJ and myself where quipping and ad libbing away and Andi and Jacqui, not so much. DJ ever the generous soul proposed the solution - we'd teach them to be spontaneous. Usher out of the living room, they were challenged to do something random. Even fueled by beer (though Jacqui must have been drinking wine) they struggled with this task. In an effort to prise open the creative juices, DJ joined them and explained how to start with one thing, and segue in to another - sort of unplanned. After much unplanning, Jacqui emerged, doing who knows what before bursting in to the Shake 'n Vac theme with a card board kitchen roll tube (fortunately) replacing the canister of powder. Sadly the amazing spontaneity was lost as DJ explained, before she came in, that he'd suggested this. Andi trumped this by entering wearing boxer shorts on his head - in a spat of, well ridiculousness only topped by the shake 'n vac piece. While waiting for these unplanned moves, DJ and I had arranged, the "What was cool" display - Duran Duran Big Thing on CD, The The Infect on VHS, Red Dwarf, pirated on CD. I'd veto'ed Man United, and he'd veto'ed all things heavy metal.

DJ - the paramedic: Time moves on, its the the FA Cup Final, or the EUFA or some other football (soccer) final of some sort, and Man Utd are there. Andi, was over and "volunteered" to cook. I volunteered to drink and DJ took care of the watching and cheering. For those of you not in the know, Andi was a professional chef - he'd cooked at the Red Cumin Inn in Dunblaine Scotland as a school to earn extra pennies - suffice it to say, he knew more than us. The game was the usual drear that I personally find soccer and DJ was up and out of his seat yelling and back down and in his seat lamenting many times without the scoreboard operator being roused from his evening nap. Suddenly there was excitement - Andi came rushing in from the kitchen and in his Scottish lilt announced "Ooh, I've cut me finger, I need to go to the hospital". By then it was the second half, we were closing in on a possible win, cool as a cucumber DJ said "don't bleed on the carpet Andi. Is dinner ready? The games almost over, lets eat, watch the end and then I'll take you". Dinner was great, Man Utd won and Andi neither bled on the carpet nor lost the finger - nicely done DJ.

DJ - the media-giant: DJ was sensible with money and bought wisely. I had music equipment, he bought TV and VCR. Sensible as he was, a student of technology he wasn't. The TV was easy - we had 4 channels to choose from, the VCR, well, no. It had Nicam Stereo when 4:3 mono was the norm and a 25" TV was HUGE. We rigged it up, wired in to the stereo and sat back to enjoy all the BBC, ITV and Blockbuster Video could bring (allegedly even soccer was enjoyable in stereo - somehow I never got that). We recorded shows, enjoyed the amazing time-shifting capabilities of the VCR -  or so I thought. After we left the flat, that illusion was shattered early one morning, a frantic DJ was on the phone, it turns out he never learnt to program the VCR, in fact, he had no clue - the manuals were clearly written by idiots and could I talk him through it. This went on for a number of years - I don't know whether he replace it or gave up - I struggle to believe he learnt how to use it though.

DJ and I shared a flat for only 18 months typical London months: my car got broken in to (twice), we met muggers on the common - (the common being famous for resting place of a few politicians careers), the landlord filed for bankruptcy and the local Italian would clear other patrons out of our way as we drank so much Barolo.

But no DJ/Alan series of stories could end without one about arguing. It was the cementing of our friendship and defined over 30 years of interaction - we liked to argue, about anything. The unearthing of this common interest in this time honored sport took place early one morning at GDC in Wokingham. We had the 10PM to 6AM shift, nothing much ever happened (well the police broke in one time and threatened to arrest us, but that's a different story) so we chatted. As we got to know each other, we chatted some more, then we debated and then we argued. We discussed really important things like would Frank Bruno have beaten Mike Tyson if the bell hadn't rung; did the office custodian really know the Cray Twins as he claimed; was DJ's Nissan Sunny the worst car ever made, or a sound financial investment (you guess who took what position that one); among other really important topics, but our favorite topic was cartoons. Between us we probably recalled over 80% of the cartoons on British TV stretching back the 20 years of our lives. Which was best, did you remember this one, what was the name of this cartoon (The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan had us foxed until one of DJ's customer's, who we had somehow included in the madness saved the day) - with no Internet to ruin the opinion led debate with anything remotely like facts, we argued many many hours away on full pay, waiting to be relieved so we could go home. We were so cartoon obsessed we gave our colleagues cartoon oriented nicknames, we created call in phrases and generally were the epitome of 20 year old self-obsessed children passing as adults. Anyway, one morning the arguing was flowing nicely, positions were taken, undermined and abandoned, one side struggled to gain a solid winning position, then the other took an upper hand, and as 6 AM rolled around the head of Tech Support - an American from GA I believe, Bud Fearn strolled in. Bud distinguished himself by probably having less sense of humor than a rock (if any of you know him - oops), he was somewhat surly and really quite smart, but not necessarily the most people person of people. He made the fateful mistake, the turning of DJs and my relationship from casual friend to truly allies for life, by announcing (in a pre-coffee American drawl) "You guys are always arguing" - it was like a raw steak being tossed to hungry hyenas - quick as lightening DJ replied "no we're not" and the slaughter began. Bud threw up the white flag after 5 minutes of a verbal, Guns of Navarone-like barrage and DJ and I had found a kinship - we were merciless.

DJ, I miss you already my friend, you are the only person more stubborn than me in a debate, and the world is sadder place without you - keep cooking, giving, patching up, recording and arguing wherever you are - and most importantly, you can have the Jive Bunny CD back... "come on".

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