Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 28/05/2012

D’you Ken, John Peel.


It just goes to show that I’m not the person I was 10 years ago; a decade ago, within 5 minutes or possibly 10 (at a push) of meeting someone I would have found out what that person had in their record collection, their favourite bands, songs and best gig they’d been to (if I talked really quickly!). Having been on the school run, this evening, a chance comment by one of the other parents who we know quite well led to the most bizarre conversations. Discussing what we were all planning to do with our impending long weekends, the lady in question mentioned she was going to go and see Coldplay in concert. After a brief discussion about Coldplay, their music and how their live events are actually costing them money at the moment* I glibly mentioned that I was going to see Half Man Half Biscuit play this week. People normally glaze over at this point (no comments, please, how this is a normal occurrence!), however this Mum became all animated and mentioned how she loved HMHB, and started reeling off a number of the bands song titles. I’m not sure whether my jaw was on the floor at this point, the fact that someone else was a fan of the band, if it weren’t it was when I then mentioned my favourite band Cardiacs. She loved Cardiacs, had their flower logo on the back of a coat and a t-shirt with their iconic “A little man, a house and the whole world window” graphics. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t like cliches but to use the modern vernacular…. “Who knew“**

If I’m sitting in front of my laptop working, I like to have something to listen to. Whilst you may think I spend my time listening to MP3s on my machine, or even my iPod, it’s actually the BBC’s website that provides most of my listening. Rather than music, I prefer to listen to Radio 4 comedy shows, and sometimes plays, that are available via iPlayer. As well as shows that have been aired over the last week or so, they also feature a number of classic series (and some which should have been) such as Dad’s Army, Hancock’s Half Hour, Round the Horne and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue (no, that’s a show… not a note of self-expression!). I do scour the site to see whether there are any episodes of my favorite show, Old Harry’s Game*** and one that I’ve recently discovered and is now a close second “Cabin Pressure”****.

Having exhausted all episodes from the Beeb, I had a quick scout around their website to see what else might be available and discovered an absolute treasure chest that will keep me occupied for weeks if not months – Desert Island Discs. First devised by Roy Plumly, the first program was aired in January 1942, featuring the popular Viennese comedian, actor and musician, Vic Oliver; over the years most of the “great and good”***** have appeared on the program and there are now some 2895 episodes available online, half of which are available to download. With so many available I was a bit like a kid in a candy store.. though presented with a search box, I was taken aback for a minute of so, whilst I tried to think who I’d want to listen to if they had been on the show and it was available to listen to. With music being such an integral part of who I am, I’m interested to see what other people choose (more marketing of course Dear Reader, as these people will be conscious that the songs they choose will reflect who they are as well as how people will judge them) and I’m not really interested in musicians either, I can guess a lot of their influences. However, there is of course one person associated with the music industry who I do want to hear and whom you will have guessed already, the late great John Peel. I’ve downloaded the program and look forward to listening to it tomorrow… I’m sure I’ll get some Teenage Kicks^ out of it.

*They’re giving out bracelets which light up at specific points of the night, and which uses some rather cool technology (and as we know, cutting edge technology always comes at a price).
** I absolutely hate this phrase, along with “literally”, “yay me”, “whatever”,”Legend”, “for the win” and top of the list “genius”. If and when I do use these phrases on here, Dear Reader, it is with a heavy heavy dose of irony (or aluminiumy or any other metally that is available).
*** Written by the incomparable Andy Hamilton, it stars Andy in the part of Satan and his interaction with demons and “customers” alike… very very funny stuff.
**** I first picked up on this show as it stars Benedict Cumberbatch who has risen to stardom through his portrayal of the modern Sherlock Holmes which I’m a huge fan of (I’m actually a huge fan of the original Conan Doyle stories, as I’ve mentioned before, though I’m not blind to bad portrayals of the detective genius)
***** Another dreadful phrase… “great and good” at what… and how judges as such. To me, most of it looks like just good marketing (this is a phrase we use at home all the time, everything boils down to marketing whether corporate or personal (cynical mode switched to OFF)).
^ As mentioned before, Teenage Kicks by the Undertones was John Peel’s favourite single.

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