18:09: Who would’ve thought that M&S sandwiches and scones & jam would have made a decent wedding meal? It was a genius move, or maybe that’s the drink talking. It’s taken a lot for me to get this drunk in a while, but even my tolerance levels can’t stand up with such a lack of any decent food. Mind, maybe that was the idea – get everyone totalled before the speeches! Wedding speeches are always a delicate thing. You need to strike the right balance of emotion, humour and gratitude without offending family members or putting guests to sleep on the dining tables – which I can say from personal experience, can and does happen! Now for someone who’s hardly traditional by any sense of the imagination I for one am surprised by just how formal this entire gathering is. Granted the menu isn’t typical, and the groom and…groom aren’t exactly dressed in traditional attire. But the hall does have that feel of an elegant classic wedding reception, helmed as you’d expect by the people at the top table which includes both sets of parents, a best man (from the looks of it Brad’s brother) and three bridesmaids (I think I recognise one of Karim’s sisters, the other two I don’t have a clue).
Here at table nineteen – which consists of the Shapiro’s, Raph, a couple of Brad’s cousins called Will and Charlene, and the obligatory weird dude who is either the obnoxious drunk uncle or one whisky away from being a serial killer – all pay due attention while each person makes their speeches, with Karim’s father in particular drawing out a few tears from the crowd saying how proud he is of his only son. Everyone raises their Champagne glasses at the appropriate times, and gives toasts to the new happy couple. But all through this I’m only paying half attention to the proceedings, the rest of my concentration (such as it is on my fourth glass of Champagne!) is focussed more on table eleven.
“Dude, seriously” says Raph as he sits back down from yet another toast to Karim and Brad. “If you stare any harder you’ll burn a hole in the back of her skull!”
I catch a glimpse of Rick and Jenna, whose concerned glances to me seem to be suggesting the same thing. Am I really being that obvious? Good thing there’s a distraction then! “So, thanks everyone for coming to see me today” Karim gushes down the mic. “Now I hope you’ve all brought yer dancing shoes ’cos I’ve got a great surprise for you all. Man, this is a real blast from the past!”
I feel a sudden aching in my gut. I pray there was something wrong with the prawn sandwiches!
“Live, for one night only, the reunion of the hottest DJ’s this fabulous town has ever known. Please show you appreciation for Max Miles and the irreverent Mister Dan Shears!”
The crowd starts cheering and clapping, all standing to their feet, while I sit there with my head in my hands. Shit!
“Dude come on people are waiting!” Raph says.
I finally pluck up the courage to stand and wave my hands around to demand some silence. “Hi, well thanks for that, um…”
“Yeah, Max and Dan woo!” shouts some anonymous jackass from across the other side.
I look around the room full of expectant eyes. I make a mental note to myself – kill Karim! There’s so many people here. “Yeah I er, I don’t quite know how to say this!” I glance around for signs any kind of support, or a secret exit. There’s no sign of Max or Lucy. Suddenly everyone is a complete faceless stranger. All except one, who’s staring at me right now with the same expectant look as everyone else. The whole room has slowed down. I’m transfixed by this woman. Everyone’s just staring at me. I need a bloody miracle to get out of this one!
Suddenly the room goes dark. I wonder if the storm outside has knocked out the power, until there’s the oddly familiar opening notes from The A-Team – a piece Max and I always used to open one of our sets. Oh no!
“Ladies and gentlemen” announces a deep stern voice aided with just the right amount of reverb, while perfectly placed spotlights flash around the hall. “Welcome to the greatest comeback show in…Bournemouth. Yes Take That did it, The Spice Girls did it, Spandau Ballet are…trying to do it, All Saints tried it but failed ’cos they were shit anyway! So, why not us eh? Yes that’s right. For one night only, here for your pleasure and entertainment, we give you the triumphant return of the legendary” pause for effect! “Dan and Max!”
The crowd goes fuckin’ ape-shit as a familiar but forgotten hardcore dance tune starts pumping out through the speakers at the far end of the room. They rush over to the small dance floor, across from which a small stage has been set up surrounded by a couple of speakers and flashy wind/light machines. And at the centre is someone I haven’t seen in a decade – DJ Maximus is back. And from what I can gather possessed by Tigger from those Winnie The Pooh cartoons!
There’s a tap on my shoulder. “I’ve been told to give this to you!” says one of the hotel staff as he passes me a wireless mic. I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket, a message from a new number.
Start doing yo thang sharp one!!
I look over to the stage and he’s clearly waiting for something. I’d better get fucking paid for this!
“I want everyone here to make some noise!” I scream down the mic as I meander through the heaving crowd. To my surprise everyone does as asked. I find myself spouting off some other key phrases, getting pats on the back from jubilant dancers as I edge my way to the stage like a rock star being handed out a lifetime achievement award. “We’re here to celebrate the wedding of Karim and Brad today!” More cheers pierce the thumping bass. Finally I make it to my former partner’s side. “You could’ve told me!” I shout in Max’s ear.
“And miss that look on yer face?” he replies while cueing up the next track. I’m a bit taken aback by how familiar this feels – the lights dancing to the music, the crowds chanting our names, Max holding his hands out to the roof while sticking his tongue out as far as possible (which freakishly is quite far. A thought enters my mind about him and Michelle which I won’t divulge – ever!). “C’mon dude, make some moves!” he says nudging me in the ribs. “This is our last one, let’s make it count!”
* * *
Max had designed the set to last for an hour. We played for two – played being the operative word, and not just the music. We had a few games thrown in, many of them debaucherous old favourites which involved riding someone round the dance floor for thirty seconds to the tunes from The Lone Ranger, or licking a food item off someone’s chest – these and more either suggested, requested or down right demanded by Karim. So not so much a traditional wedding reception then, as demonstrated by the severe lack of any of Karim’s or Brad’s relatives who were aged over thirty-five! And what with the distinct turn of tone to include much more adult based entertainment there were certainly no kids around, so our audience consisted of former Bournemouth alumni’s with the other thirty percent made up of the happy couple’s friends from Bristol. Even now, half an hour after we’ve finished and some young local pretenders to the throne have taken over DJ-ing duties, me and Max are still getting congratulatory slaps and pats on the back. I think I also got a couple of arse pinches along the way, though my brain refuses to discuss who’s fingers rummaged for my fine (if I do say so myself!) buttocks.
“Y’know what?” Max says, slightly slurring his words from behind his second pint. “That was a fuckin’ good show that was!” He stumbles a little as he points at my chest, ramming his finger in to my chest plate. I’m so drunk right now I’m surprised I even notice.
“You truly are sir the master DJ incarnate” I salute to my former partner.
“No sir it was all thanks to you that this happened!”
“No no good sir, the effort and triumph is all yours, I just came along for the ride!”
Based on history this routine of what we used to call The Too Nice Gentlemen could end up running for hours, and no one in the small group of choice alumni’s seem willing to break it up, except Lucy who seems to have regained half her sobriety and with it her ball-breaking attitude. “Come and dance with me you fucker!” she demands of her husband with a glint in her eye. She turns back to me with a brief look of what could easily be mistaken for an apology. I really hope these two are going to be ok.
I get the all too familiar ‘I’m in there’ signal from Max (which consists of two thumbs standing erect and his snake like tongue displaying itself like a slimy cockatoo) and decide it’s time for another drink. The bar is still heaving so I position myself in a key area waiting to be served while checking out all the guest books. A great idea, of Brad’s apparently – a large photo album, which I suspect was a five-hundred year old giant tree in its former life, has been plastered with tonnes of Polaroid’s from the past – most of them from that memorable Christmas ball right here in this very hall. Everyone has to find their respective past selves - which Raph admitted to me earlier took him considerably longer than most others - and leave a message. There’s the standards in there; ‘Congratulations on your special day’ and ‘live a long and happy life together’. A couple of hysterical non-standards too, one from some girl called Gemma Horth which relates to the time Karim got arrested for ‘taking pictures which constituted an invasion of privacy’. Man those surfer boys were pissed that day! I scour my brain to try and come up with something funnier to write (as one always must!) while I hunt down the appropriate picture. I don’t know why I’m so surprised when I find it – maybe it’s the awful shape of the long hair, or the fact that I look like a bear compared to my leaner current shape. (I ate a lot more back then and lifted weights religiously six times a week. Like I said, Hulk shirts!) But the most likely source of surprise is the woman whose arm is round my shoulder.
“Seems like a million years ago doesn’t it?”
“It does Rita, it really does!”