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David Gittens

An Appreciation -A hand in many things

DAVID GITTENS, better known as “DG”, or “Mu The Jeweler” died on Monday, April 4, at his residence in Inch Marlow, Christ Church. There was no obituary on the radio or in the newspaper, no church service, no eulogy. For David, just a simple cremation. News of his death surfaced many days afterward, for that was his way.

DG was truly a “character” or a “personality”. Who could forget his appearances on Television? Advertising his black coral and silver jewellery, in a thick drawling voice, he’s say “and the price is right, daaarling, yesss the price is right”

Let us look at his many ventures:

  • Stationery salesman for Brydens and H.N. Rogers.
  • Restaurant owner at Top Rock – he even cooked the meals.
  • Owner of a top quality music shop, stocking musical instruments and LPs imported from London and United States.
  • Organizer of one of the first fencing clubs.
  • Private detective – how well he is remembered at Seawell, newspaper covering his face as he records names of locals who were returning from the islands. Perhaps he was working for jealous husbands or wives. A quick trip to St Lucia with a secretary, and your name was on his list!
  • Jeweller in Norman Centre.
  • Stockist of Masonic and esoteric books.
  • Introducer of kayaking in Barbados. He once tried to Kayak around Barbados.
David Gittens
David Gittens standing on left side.

Quite a repertoire, but music was his forte. There are photos of him in a small musical group which included Errol Barrow. He gave lessons by e-mail on playing harmonica and flute – remember his bearded face?

He was married first to Agnes Vieira, a Vincentian who worked at the Royal Bank of Canada. I recall visiting the newly-weds in Upper Bay Street – no furniture, because he considered furniture to be a low priority.

We respected his wishes and squatted of the floor. Second wife was Muriel Parris, daughter of the renowned Captain Parris. Muriel was his guardian angel, but he seemed not to believe in angels.

His religious career took several divergent avenues. He was an active Rosicrucianist, then a Bishop in the Gnostic Church, the Ordre Martiniste et Synarchiste. There was a brief flirtation with freemasonry, followed by being a Nowherian or a DG.

David once told me that he was living temporarily in New York. Down to his last $1,000, he aimlessly took a train to the end of the line. On the way, he received a “message” to return to Barbados and open a jewellery store. He alighted at the next stop and immediately took a course in gemology. Returning here, he started his business in Norman Centre.

He was not one for the safety and security of a peaceful existence. He sought forever, tried everything, but always returned to his love for music. His last few years were spent happily at his residence in Inch Marlow, watching the surfers, enjoying the beauty of that lovely stretch of beach, near to Long Beach, in an area which has not yet been discovered by many Barbadians.

Now DG is no longer among us, but he will be remembered by his many overseas friends who delighted in his knowledge of old school chums, and his local fans will search the Web, hoping for a last e-mail from “Simple Simon, as he frequently called himself.

We shall miss this unusual person. There never was anyone like DG.

The above was published in the April 21, 2011 edition of the Nation newspaper, Barbados

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David Errol Wyndham Gittens (1936-2011)

Farewell David Gittens

The following sketch of David’s life appeared in the Barbados Today publication of April 14, 2011. The author was not mentioned in the newspaper.

With sadness, I learned last week of the passing earlier that week of David Gittens, known to Barbados as DG and later in life as Mu the Jeweler.

I don’t think I remember DG from Harrison College, but made his acquaintance when he ran the Music City Record Shop in the City.

DG was a man who moved differently, for his whole life it seems. At the time he left Kolij, young men of his social grouping were expected to take a safe job in one of the established businesses in town and stay there. He ran a record store and played in a band with young black men, including Al Gilkes. That may seem like nothing of note now but in the 60s it was a very big thing and would have caused serious rumblings among certain sectors of society. The band was named The Soul Kings and its recording of Al Martino’s Mary in the Morning, featuring DG on sax and with Al rolling pretty on drums, remains a Bajan classic, sadly only heard around Independence.

One of my treasured photos is of DG and The Soul Kings playing at the Prime Minister’s residence in Culloden Road, now shamefully derelict. In that picture Prime Minister Errol Barrow can be seen playing a mean scraper, with not a security person in sight. How life has changed!

As Mu the Jeweler DG was one of the most patronized and loved businessmen in the City. The ladies loved him for his friendliness and warm sense of humour. Later, under a variety of whimsical noms de plume such as Bajan Piedpiper, Simple Simon, Le Compte D’Orient and Commander D’Orient, DG posted some entertaining videos of himself playing harmonica and wood flute on YouTube, where they can still be found.

His views on religion, mysticism and spirituality were not those held by the mainstream but DG was always in touch, his impish sense of humour keeping him grounded and yet always seemingly smiling at the pettiness of the world. One of his favourite quotations reveals the essence of the man – “Some see things as they are and say why. Others dream of things that have never been and say why not.”

Farewell, Bajan Piedpiper. You are joining an awesome band.

Special thanks to Pudding Clarke for use of his picture.

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