MICK MIDDLES

Mick Middles, author of 24 highly successful books concentrating on Manchester music artists from punk to present, reviews Dave Spence’s Gate-Crashers: Dave Spence’s luminous word-of-mouth novel sits belligerently within a time-capsule of Christmas 1984. Indeed, the eighties had been unleashed and the story spits and pops with all the fizz and colour and sound that defines that sadly lost era. Oddly, it is set in the rather less colourful South Manchester suburb of Sale, just on the outside of edgier Stretford. To some extent, this detachment adds to the energy and pace of the tale. If it can happen here, where elegant houses with pristine lawns extend to touch crackly drug-fuelled estates, it can happen anywhere. The hero, Nick is not-so-loosely based on the ghost of the author’s young days. Subsequently, it’s difficult not to imagine him adorning leg-warmers and wrap-around scarves, such were the gentle affectations of the day. In the background, naturally, one hears the glorious pop of ABC, The Human League, Tears for Fears, Madonna…endlessly extending in to 12 inch jam outs. People of a certain age can simply slot in their own evocative soundtrack. Rather than venturing into the Manchester of legend – The Hacienda – the author chooses to stay local, injecting this warming though Godless tale into large pubs and dingy ‘take-aways’ that remain in place to this day. The book soon gathers pace when Nick’s mother unwisely hands him the Christmas keys to her beloved Porsche. Of course, one senses absolute disaster…and it is absolute disaster that duly arrives as the book speeds to an incident packed finale. Does Nick finally get the girl of his dreams? I cannot say, but the tumble of lust, romance, violence and ghostly sounds of a lost and beloved era, will remain with me…at least until the second instalment arrives in my eager hands. Mick Middles

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