Thursday, June 08, 2006


I'm reading the aborted autobiography of dj John Peel "Margrave of the Marshes". Belatedly, you might say, given that it came out last year, but I waited until it appeared in the library.
They say "Margrave" was the favourite Christmas gift to give a middle-aged man this Christmas past. Understandable, given that middle-age encompasses, roughly, 40 to 55, which means those of us who are middle-aged now were teenagers in the Sixties and Seventies, when John was rising to fame as the purveyor of quality raw-boned independent music, first from the hippie era and then from punk.
A lot of b***s*** has been written about him since he died, a lot of overly sentimental, dewey-eyed rubbish that John would have found acutely embarrassing; but it did seem that he was always there, even if most of the time you didn't listen to him--a touchstone of integrity and stubborn guardianship of vision in a world where everything is inclined to compromise. I remember checking the radio schedules periodically through the years in whimsical coffee moments just to see that he was still there, at 10 pm on any given evening, keeping Radio One on the righteous path, ready to break the new rock wood for the betterment of everybody.
It's probably fatuous to say "We shall not see his like again" --his like are undoubtedly with us already, only in some form unrecognisable to me. But John is not, with his particular ear, his wit, his language, his artistic vision. He looked like fun. This book at least preserves a fraction of that fun for future generations.

1 comment:

domestic empire said...

Late but by no means the latest. I've not yet started the book myself.

In fact, and despite my up & downloading of Peel recordings, it is only very recently that I've been able to face listening to recordings of the old man without it hurting.