Meet the Man in the Moon

If you, like me, are a sucker for an interesting life story, I think you’ll enjoy this one…

With his original Paper Moon backdrop

David Eyles – for it is he – like many now living in the land between Brighton and London, moved progressively south to escape the crowded city as it expanded and to improve quality of life for himself and his family.  He now lives in Uckfield, East Sussex, where he’s established himself as one of our local “characters.”  Now retired, he chooses to provide us with a unique and interesting service.  He does this not for monetary gain, but purely for the enjoyment it gives him and those who get involved.

So what is it?  Whoa, hold your horses, I’ll get to that, but first, saddle up and let me take you on a gallop through David’s progression to this point.

You might be old enough to remember “the Man from the Pru.”  He was the man who called at your door to collect your insurance premiums, as such, he’d be a very familiar face in the street.  You’d get to know him and have a chat on the doorstep each week.  Well, David used to be that man.  I’m sure he was already an affable chap by the time he took on this job but the doorstep interactions with such a variety of people doubtless added to his abilities to build rapport.  He’s an open and friendly individual.

Mad Axe from the Circus themed backdrops

Added to that, he was a DJ for many years, providing the music at dances – mostly Rock’n’Roll and original R’n’B.  He garnered an impressive and valuable collection of vinyl but a serious dent was made in this when his marriage broke down and he became a single Dad to his 9-year-old son, Andrew.  He sold much of the collection for £9,000 – quite a sum in the late 1980s.  Clearly, David had an eye for finding value.

He’s also always had a nose for sniffing out interesting and lucrative business ventures and side-hustles.  In the early 1990s, he began wheeling and dealing in pansies.  I’m being literal – the humble pansy flowering plants.  He approached owners of small-holdings and offered to take their produce and sell it at weekend boot fairs, giving the small-holders an income and providing £1-1.50 per shrub to David.  Soon, he expanded into herbs.  He bought a little yellow van (Trotter’s Independent Trading comes to mind!)  Things went so well that he sought out midweek selling opportunities and spent a lot of time at Women’s Institute events and the like, turning the pansy and herb venture into what he describes as “a pretty good business.”  It began tailing off when big supermarkets also started selling live plants but by this time, David was already looking further afield.

Front-drops as well as backdrops


During the “pansy years” he and Andrew had moved a bit further south and he’d also decided he wanted to see more of the world.  He’d been to Florida while he was married and loved it so he booked to return.  All this time, David had continued to DJ at weddings and events.  He’d now been doing this for 30 years.  Although he originally began because he hoped it would help him meet women (it worked, that’s how he met his wife), he was always mesmerised by the audience members who could do what he called “proper dancing like the Cha Cha” and he set about getting himself on the other side of the record deck tripping the light fantastic.  He took Rock’n’Roll dance lessons and aimed to try out the results in Florida.

There was a dance hall in Tampa called ‘Zen the Grotto’ that was THE place to be.  They played the music David loved – Big Joe Turner and ‘50s RnB.  They also had a big entrance banner and people would stop and have their photo taken in front of the banner to prove they were hip.  The photo was their souvenir of the evening.  A seed was planted and began germinating in David’s ever-active, entrepreneurial mind.

In the early 2000s, David again headed States-side and took a trip to Las Vegas with some friends.  They attended a talk all about the old Vegas casinos and the speaker used an old slide projector to show his photos.  You remember the type – small, transparent photos set in a cardboard frame.  If you didn’t have a projector you’d hold them up to the light to see, and they were tiny.   But in a proper projector, the image could fill an entire wall.  David had an idea.  He decided he should get slides of old US cars to project onto the wall to add to the atmosphere at the Rock’n’Roll dance club he attended in East Grinstead.

David, the Slide Guy, sorting his slides (check out that gas fire!)

Back home, he ordered some slides from ebay.  He had to buy individual slides. Nobody was selling them in sets.  He also found that in the US, they weren’t very valued, so on his next trip to Florida, he visited lots of flea markets – their equivalent of our boot fairs – and started buying up slides.  Over several visits, he’d take an empty suitcase and fill it with slides to bring back.  He used the ones he wanted but sold others on ebay, becoming the english_slide_guy, currently with an impressive 40K items sold.  He still does it but admits it’s becoming harder to find slides as more people have started selling.  David was a trend-setter.

The film from which David got his first idea

Two weeks after David’s last visit to the US, Covid hit us.  It brought a natural end to his trips to the US, coupled with the fact that a lady he’d fallen for, who became a big reason to go often, had died.  Confined to barracks, as we all were, David stayed home watching movies.  One he particularly enjoyed was ‘Paper Moon.’  Remember the seed that was planted at ‘Zen the Grotto’ in Tampa?  Well that combined with something featured in the film, showing how people in the 1920s and 30s would visit carnivals but as not many owned their own cameras, they’d have their photos taken and made into postcards to send to friends.

David’s cousin was a dab hand at making things out of wood so David asked him to make a big wooden moon structure – stick with me on this.  Taking his moon and camera, David started showing up at school fêtes and the like, offering to take people’s photos in front of the moon and send them the results.  It was quirky and he had to overcome some suspicions, but it worked.  People began to respond and David started to add more fun backdrops.  He went back to the dances and asked the DJs if he could set up his backdrops so attendees could get a posed souvenir of their evening, just as they did in Tampa at ‘Zen the Grotto.’

Get transported to Hollywood on Oscars night


One of several Valentine’s theme drops and props


Glamour abounds

To date, David has dozens of different backdrops:  there’s the Moon, of course, but he also has various themes – Valentines, Christmas, Halloween.  He also has front-drops such as a beach scene with a bar people stand behind, a Rock’n’Roll car, an old seaside type you put your face through and become John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.  He’s now working on adding to his latest idea of a circus theme.  And it’s not just static photos, David does videos of people.  There’s a VW Camper van that he wear for Carpool Karaoke and you can choose your celebrity partner.  There’s an array of celebrity faces your companion can use.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to actually sing, just mime along to the track that’s played.  The videos turn out to be incredibly effective.

Carpool karaoke with your favourite celebrity – still from a video (yep, not just photos)

Now in his 70s, although still sprightly, David can’t dance as much as he did but taking the backdrops to events means he still gets socially involved and his Facebook page is testament to the fun he creates.  He mostly does it for this reason, spending his own money to create the backdrops, buy the props and drive to events.  He puts his time and effort in totally gratis.  And it’s not just the time to attend. After the event, David crops the photos, edits them to look their best and sends them off to the subjects, usually by WhatsApp.  He also posts them on his Facebook page with permission.

Ideal if you don’t want to be recognised!

The only charge he ever makes is £25 for a private booking – well worth it for the added attraction at parties and that fun souvenir people get of their evening.

If you’d like to spice up your next event, contact David at It’s Only a Paper Moon.

Facebook page:  It’s Only A Paper Moon Photo Booth

Contact David to book for your event:   07531 668142



  • Maria Bligh

    Maria Bligh is a journalist, published author, professional speaker, singer and artist now settled in Sussex, UK, having previously travelled extensively throughout the UK and overseas, including a period living in Geneva. Married to a successful musician and with a background that encompasses working in the music industry, finance, sales and presentations training, she maintains a diverse existence. Her interests encompass travel, nature, animals and the arts: music, theatre, painting, writing and philosophy. Maria now writes for online and print magazines. Having once maintained a regular full page in “A Place In The Sun” magazine, travel is an obvious interest, but her articles also cover a wide variety of subjects. She bills herself as “an observer of the human condition and all that sail in her.” Maria has frequently appeared on radio & TV as well as in print. Her humorous style has seen her travel the world addressing audiences throughout Europe, Asia and Australasia and as a cruise-ship speaker with P&O and Fred Olsen.

2 thoughts on “Meet the Man in the Moon

  1. I agree what David offers and he clearly really enjoys offering, is special testament of the man.
    I have really enjoyed this read about David and his life experiences, although some sad times but then happy moments
    We hope to see him this Saturday night 25th May at Drill Hall Horsham at our dance.

  2. Well I never knew all this about David. He is a wonderful man, always smiling, always positive. I get excited when I arrive at a dance venue and he’s there! He’s still a great dancer too!

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