A song for May

Today I’ve been reading through old ‘Spill posts and RR blogs, posts from years ago. I was supposed to be working, but this seemed more important, and it was time well-spent. I was reminded of how incredibly important Readers Recommend and its offspring have been for so many people. I was reminded of how important it was for me. I was trying to remember the exact week that May1366 joined. He was instantly appealing, a bright soul, even in a few lines of internet discourse. I’ve been thinking so much about him today, and he seems to me to represent everything that was ever good about Readers Recommend. He was always so bright and light and funny. And yet he had such a wisdom and weight to his words. All of his words felt valuable. He was knowledgable but gracious, involved yet balanced. He was kind and generous. And his love for music glowed through his words in an inspiring, infectious way. I feel such affection for him, though I’ve never met him. I feel such a loss.

His writings from the hospital are remarkably beautiful.

If you’d like to share a song for May, or a memory of May, or a memory of a song for May… Let’s celebrate his life in ‘Spill style, with music.

I’ve been trying to think of a song to post for May, and I just don’t know. I know he loved this, and I know its beautiful, so that’s what I’m going with.

39 thoughts on “A song for May

      • Dear Claire and all of Din’s (May) friends on The Spill,
        I am Vic, Din’s partner. I have just found this post. I think I met a few of you in Liverpool last year, forgive my dreadful memory. I relied on Din for most things in life, maths (which I am crap at) names I don’t remember, losing my phone fifty trillion times a day, cooking, which he was brilliant at. Everything. When we first got together he promised to teach me about Jazz but life took over the both of us and he never got round to it. He sent me a text when he was in hospital a couple of weeks ago. We would text and talk after lights out in The Royal when I’d been flung out when visiting hours were over, it was about the Jazz and he said in response to me reminding him of his promise to teach me ‘That’s going to happen now.’
        When the funeral director asked me about music, I chose one song because it was a song that meant a lot to me as he used to sing it to me in bed of a night. He’d do the speaking part in the middle too. I remembered that Din wanted ‘Heatwave’ by Martha and The Vandellas but I chickened out at the last moment because my mum who had kindly come with me for support thought it might be inappropriate and I ended up asking for another one I knew Din particularly loved – Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight and The Pips. He used to sing this to me too and do all the parts, acting it out. But now I feel I should go back to Heatwave my first instinct? Even our song might be deemed inappropriate – I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire by The Ink Spots? Oh Din.
        Thank you for all the love you have shown him,
        Vic x

      • Hello Vic, Thank you so much for visiting the ‘Spill. We are so so sorry for your loss. It’s hard to think of words for the man who always knew the perfect words, or choose a song for the man who always had the perfect song. We’re all thinking of you and yours, from the ‘Spill community all over the world, with love and sympathy. If there’s ever anything we can do for you, please let us know.

      • Thanks Vic, that’s beautifully said. I was out in Liverpool that evening and it was a pleasure to meet you both. I remember you asked us about musical tastes and I owned up to nominating showtunes now and again. But I can’t remember when it was either ! It was the early months of 2012 or 2013…

        My actual real name is Tim (Sanders), Dinesh put me in touch with you a few years ago because of The Reader Organisation’s work with people with dementia. Two of the team came over to give us a workshop in Leeds in 2012, and then we paid for a training session, and we have a couple of reading groups going at local libraries, and some interest in doing more.

        As for “Heatwave”… I’d have the same dilemma as you, I’d rather hear Midnight Train To Georgia to say goodbye to someone special, and it makes me smile too, the way the Pips do the backing vocals. A fine choice. I imagine that Dinesh wanted humour and toe-tapping at his funeral, and of course Heatwave deserves to be anyone’s favourite song. Two thoughts: I expect that he would have imagined his funeral a few decades from now, and might have gone for good humour and rhythm on the assumption that he’d be just another old batsman who’d had a decent long innings. Secondly, that whatever you decide upon, he’d understand.

        A practical thought about the music, from when my father-in-law died (I remember Dinesh said something very kind at the time): At the crematorium, they seemed to think it normal that people would start to leave as they faded the last piece of music – whereas we wanted to sit and listen until the song finished. It was a Welsh male voice choir singing The Battle Hymn Of The Republic and we wanted it to blow the roof off ! So it might be worth someone asking them to make sure to play the song in full.

        What desperately sad things to be talking about. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost him. I understand he was back home with you, which seems like the right place, but much too soon.

  1. He was one of the good ones. And as I get older, and as more people around me die or fade away, I see things getting less and less meaningful or worthwhile. The arbitrary, unreconcilable nature of disease and yet there’s a summer every year.

    Cut grass lies frail:
    Brief is the breath
    Mown stalks exhale.
    Long, long the death

    It dies in the white hours
    Of young-leafed June
    With chestnut flowers,
    With hedges snowlike strewn,

    White lilac bowed,
    Lost lanes of Queen Anne’s lace,
    And that high-builded cloud
    Moving at summer’s pace.

    Larkin ’71.

  2. I too have spent much of today thinking about somebody I never met and never knew beyond a small stretch of shared cyberspace. I did eventually come to know his real name, but still think of him as May1366 (the explanation came in an EOTWQ: when I signed up to quarrel on the Guardian sports blogs, I wanted to represent my team – Tottenham … in a fairly oblique way. I chose to refer to Henry Percy aka Harry Hotspur, the general immortalised by Shakespeare in whose spirit the football club’s student founders took its original name of Hotspur FC. He was born in May 1366, and that’s the name I had when I arrived, barefoot and pregnant, on the charitable doorstep of Readers Recommend during Dorian Lynskey’s last week as guru.)

    Every thread was smarter and funnier for May’s contributions.

    I’m going to repost this little gem for anyone who didn’t see it on Facebook:

    “My first thought – well,my first thought is to post this in the style of Eeyore, because I suppose it would be amusing, though I don’t know why a person would choose to be amused, or choose to be amusing, as it happens, not that it does happen, not to me anyway, not that anyone cares.

    So my next thought is a song I should really leave to bishbosh, who’s a terribly nice fellow, not like some people I could mention. You see, bishbosh has eight versions of this song so it really should be his place to nominate it, but then you see he credits me with introducing him to the song so maybe I should just go ahead and claim it, not that it’ll get chosen because nothing ever gets chosen, and some rude person’s bound to have thought of it in the time it’s taken me to do this. And because there’s a version by someone much loved who died this week, it’s tempting to choose his version and not the version I’d choose, or the six other version bishbosh owns, and I don’t think I’m the sort of fellow who can make that decision so I’ll leave the thought here and maybe bishbosh or someone else will read it and decide to nominate something. But I doubt anyone will read it. No-one ever reads my posts.”

    That was a nomination for “Blues Run The Game”. But this is the song that he called the
    “greatest piece of recorded music ever and the song for when I’m dropped into the crematorium incinerator”:

  3. I tried to think of a song when Jocelyn first posted and i went blank. I just got so upset. I saw that his brother said that he would have gone for something counterintuitive like Barry Manilow anyway. Like he suggested Frankie Goes to Hollywood for best cover artist for my series.

    So i’ll stick with this image i have of him busting onto the dancefloor on my disco thread (i suspect i might have tried to smoke him out of hiding a bit on that one.) and assume that’s what he’s doing now.


    And for a tune, i remember he posted i think a jazz sax tune by i think an artist named Sunny something that made him happy. (I don’t think it was Sonny Rollins). I can’t find it now, but that’s what i’d post and anyway he knows what it is.

  4. It’s a real shock to hear of May’s death. I never met him but had a lot of conversations with him on here and RR and he was always charming, witty, self-effacing and erudite. Besides a perennially useless football team we also shared a love of many of the same musicians.
    My choice of commemorative music would be John Coltrane’s A love supreme, recorded 50 years ago on December 9th, 1964. As a recent NPR article put it,

    “Even in struggle and suffering, we sing, because life is a blessing. As much as Coltrane made his saxophone cry — for his suffering, and the world’s — in A Love Supreme he’s telling us that the most important voice to raise is one of gratitude to the creator for the gift of life.”

  5. I read tfd’s facebook post at 5am yesterday. I had been lying awake. (As many of you know, this isn’t unusual for me.) I had been thinking about the man who dominated my 20s and beyond (psychologically at least): a larger-than-life Scot whom I slept with, fought with, drank with… Mainly drank with. I discovered last Friday that he’d died suddenly of a massive brain haemorrhage – in the arms of the man he met a week or two after we split for good, the man who would turn out to be the love of his life. He was 49. It was his funeral on Tuesday. I will miss him.

    And then at 5am on Wednesday I read tfd’s post. Another shock. Another man taken too soon. I didn’t know May like I knew Jock. But I loved to read his words. The man could write. And not just clever-clever write. Reveal-his-soul write. With generosity and grace and wit. The kind of writing that matters. I’m glad to have known him, if only via Readers Recommend and the ‘Spill. I will miss him too.

    This one’s for May. And, if it’s OK with everyone, for Jock too.

    Goodbye, my friends. I will miss you.

  6. I have to admit that I didn’t see Jocelyn’s post on FB, so I didn’t know that he’d died. Sad, sad news.

    I really don’t know what to say. Death always leaves me so numb and unable to think properly.

  7. I spent all day thinking of him too – there was something that he wrote that I read once about mittens or woollen hats discarded in the gutters .. before I read his words I always thought of them as lost or lonely – sad items removed from their owners. But his words created a new meaning – they were stabs at freedom, each item a victory over confinement. I loved this idea.

    Thinking of death, of his death, I thought of his words being left for us as stabs at freedom and ‘drifting off’ as a victory over cloying confinement.

    here it is – I’m glad I’ve found it:

    I used to see solitary woollen mittens, or dummies or tiny hats with Velcro chin straps, damp and skid-marked in gutters, rimmed with mud and boot prints. I thought they must be motifs of tragedy, silent voices in morning assembly. Now I realise that the discarding of each item has at some time been a stab at freedom, a victory over cloying confinement


  8. Dinesh’s musical tastes and mine were almost mutually exclusive. We would certainly listen to and appreciate each other’s suggestions in company, but when alone, I bet he listened to as much Alter Bridge as I did Sonny Criss. So whilst I’m listening to lots of music influenced by this week’s sad news, I don’t think it appropriate to link to it here. But one that really struck a chord this morning was this lyric verse from Brad’s Some Never Come Home:

    You’ve got many fortunate beliefs
    Like “Love your girl” and “Love your mother”
    But don’t wait until a cold December
    ‘Cause who knows when a brother’s goin’ down?

    Singer Shawn Smith has a perfect voice (one of my very favourite, as I’m sure I’ve told you lots before) for today’s requisite mood.

  9. I didn’t take this in until I read the dedication on the RR results post. The past tense of Claire’s words has only just hit me.

    I don’t think May and I shared much in the way of music taste – but his posts seem so long ago I can’t really remember, sadly. He did introduce me to David Murray’s album of Dead covers and I will always be grateful for that.

    I’ll post a song that Dinesh may not have liked but it contains lines that I can easily imagine being spoken by his life-force:

    I have spent my life
    Seeking all that’s still unsung
    Bent my ear to hear the tune
    And closed my eyes to see

  10. I was pretty shocked too.

    It feels strange to find yourself thinking about someone you never actually met, but after seeing Aba’s short post on FB and reading May’s blog I’ve spent the day thinking about him too.

    Here’s a track from a record that now sits proudly on my shelf as a direct result of a conversation I had with May on these very pages:

  11. Thanks Claire for introducing this space for some thoughts and tunes for Dinesh. You’re a good writer yourself ! It’s late here and it’s been lovely listening to and finding tunes for him, but that and a couple of glasses of the red wine have been making me a bit maudlin. Goodness knows how his nearest and dearest are getting on, it must be a harsh and desperate time, they will get through, but at the moment some people won’t feel at all sure that they will.

    Anyway, Dinesh loved his northern soul, so here’s This Only Happens When I Look At You

    • I’ve been moved, too, by all the songs and all the comments (and perhaps a glass or two of red wine). Everything anybody has said has seemed so perfect. And It seems so perfect that he joined RR a week before Maddy took over, and started her soul-ful reign of cheerfulness. I’ve been thinking about his family, too. I feel sure, well I hope, they can feel all the love pouring their way, though, as you say, at the moment…

      I just don’t know what to say.

  12. Have come a bit late to this but wanted to repeat really what I said in reply to TfDs post about this sad news, was that I always remember that May and I had a mutual love of the music of 1990’s Liverpool R’n’B revivalists The Stairs and their charismatic and mysterious frontman, Edgar Summertyme (now known as Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones, whose face you will find in my avatar both here and on RR). In conversation, it turned out that May and I had both lived in the same part of Liverpool and would regularly see Edgar around the neighbourhood, and May reminisced about seeing him on the 147 bus, which we had both ridden many times in our life.

    His post is reproduced below:

    “OK, here’s one I’m delighted to nominate because I have fond memories of this song when it was just a party piece by 16-year-old Edgar Jones, before he became Edgar Summertyme then Edgar “Jones” Jones and was just the precocious kid brother of Trefor, the singer from my mates’ band, The Thousand, whose drummer went on to play in Edgar’s first band:

    The Stairs – Weed Bus

    On the weed bus – Get your skins together
    It’s the 147 and you know you’re in heaven

    The now-discontinued 147 would be one of the Merseytravel buses you’d catch when heading from the blue suburban skies around Penny Lane and Sefton Park, through Princes Avenue in the heart of Toxteth, and into town. I indeed once sat on the top deck of the 147 with Edgar and listened to an anecdote about how he’d accidentally baked his mum a hash cupcake. Ooh, hungry now – I’ll just pop to the all-night garage..”

    Inevitably then, my song for him is this very tune that we both love so much


  13. Oh, damn, I had no idea…

    I have nothing more to add to Claire’s entry, and you lot’s posts below. He was very eloquent, warm, funny, and really knew his music. The kind of guy who’d prompt you to raise your game in RR because of the quality of his writing and the music he’d recommend. You just wanted to do it as brilliantly as he did, or at least, try.

  14. I would have commented before but I’ve been away and YoungMunday is ill. I didn’t know May but he was always charming and erudite. One of the songs he contributed to Earworms was Howard Tate, “Either Side of the Same Town”, the beauty of the singer’s voice really touched me, so this is for May and anyone in need of compassion; Bish, I include you. “Nothing will ever be the same …”

  15. I was shocked to hear that Dinesh had passed, as I have been shocked by all the young people’s deaths in my life this year. It’ been one of those years. This may be my future as I grow older. I hope at least for more newborn babies for balance. Dinesh’s hospital bed blog was beautiful, elegaic, honest, straining reaching for understanding and always gracious. I never did meet the fella but I feel as though I did. Searching through his many A-listers on this game we play every week I came across an old ska tune that seems appropriate, since we are still in mourning, and yet perhaps, rhythmically so, if that isn’t disrespectful. Rest in Peace fella.

    • That’s a great ska / rocksteady tune, but I don’t recognise it ? Well researched though, and a Happy Christmas to you and the Magic family and friends !

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