Dave Jennings – 1960-2014

A photo of Dave Jennings at our wedding, holding a Mr Flibble penguin puppet

Last week I heard the very sad news that Dave Jennings, a very good friend of mine, had passed away from a heart attack outside his flat in Bradford.

I’ve known Dave for several years, initially through friends who were in the musicals society but since 2009 we have been on a regular pub quiz team together at the university.

Though originally from the Bradford area, Dave’s early career was in London, working as a music journalist for Melody Maker magazine. It was there that he reviewed a song by the band ‘Darlin’, which he described as a ‘daft, punky thrash’. Two of the former members of Darlin’, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, went on to form Daft Punk, and the rest is history.

Melody Maker closed in 2000 and Dave returned north, eventually enrolling as a mature student on a course at the University of Bradford where I work. He graduated with a first class honours degree in 2006.

During his time at the university he was involved in both the theatre group and later the musicals society. Indeed, he was due to play the role of Orin Scrivello, the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, but sadly he passed away before the last dress rehearsal. Thankfully, another member of the society stepped up and the show was performed as planned.

Outside of the university he has been a regular extra in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale, often in the background of the Woolpack having a drink. His acting showreel from 2009 is here to watch. And recently he had made a return to music journalism, doing some freelance articles for The Girls Are, and has learnt to play the banjolele, as evidenced in this video.

Dave was also a big geek, like me, particularly when it came to Doctor Who. In fact he shared a birthday with John Barrowman (Captain Jack) and Alex Kingston (River Song). For our wedding, where the photo was taken, he had a Mr Flibble hand puppet commissioned for us, which I’ve been using as my Twitter avatar for some time.

There have been few times over the past six days when I have not been reminded of Dave and the things that he did. Whether it was constantly beating me on Words with Friends with his superior vocabulary, talking about music or the latest Doctor Who episode, or our mutual enjoyment of the Steampunk subculture. Dave will be very much missed by both myself and his large group of friends. He was such a lovely and friendly person and a real shame that his passing has come so soon.

His funeral will take place this Friday, at Nab Wood Cemetery near Bingley, at 3:20pm.

Little Shop of Horrors

This coming Thursday, my wife Christine will be featuring in an amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors, along with other students from the University of Bradford where I work. It’s on at The New Bradford Playhouse and runs until Saturday.

As well as playing a character in the show, Christine has been helping out for a number of weeks now, and I also spent much of the weekend helping and/or hindering the technical team as they set up in the theatre. It promises to be a good show, and the puppets they’re using look really good.

So, if you’re available on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights this week, we’d both very much appreciate it if you were able to come along. Tickets can be purchased online here.

The Two Together Railcard

A screenshot of the Two Together Railcard web site

There’s a new addition to the railcard family – the Two Together Railcard. Launched some time ago as a pilot in the West Midlands, it’s now available nationally, as of yesterday.

Unlike most railcards, issued to a single person, this is issued to two named people who must travel together for it to be valid. You needn’t be related, so if you regularly travel with a particular friend or housemate then they can be on the card. Like most railcards, it costs £30 and is valid for one year, and gives you a third off almost all rail tickets. You can also get 10% from this link, so it costs £27 for the year. The card can be bought at staffed ticket offices at stations, or online.

As Christine and I do a lot of travel together, this card has the potential to save us a lot of money, so we’ve ordered one. The £30 cost will easily be recuperated as we regularly spend more than £90 per year on tickets where both of us travel. In fact, it may pay for itself after just one long return journey. Until now we’ve been making use of Northern Rail’s Duo tickets, which allow a second adult to go half price with a full-fare paying adult. But this is limited to only some of Northern’s trains and isn’t a national scheme.

Right now we don’t qualify for any of the four other existing national railcards. The 16-25 railcard is for those aged 16-25 (we’re too old) or older people in full-time education (we’re not). The Friends & Family railcard is for those with children aged 5-15, which won’t apply to us for some time – you need to be travelling with at least one child in that age range for it to be valid. We’re both thirty years too young for the Senior railcard, and neither of us are disabled, so the Disabled railcard is out.

So, if you’re like Christine and I – adults who work full time, are approaching middle age and are childless or don’t have any children over five years old – then the Two Together railcard is a welcome introduction.