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The man who new the underground, taken away far too soon. If only he could see the legacy he's left and the brilliance of U.K. underground music at the moment. Currently playing his Fabriclive, an outstanding collection of music showcasing his eclectic taste and his all time favourite track: the legendary Teenage Kicks with a lyrics that now adorns his tombstone.
Most that can be said about him has been said but there will always be little stories that surface of his humour, his humble nature and downright incredible knowledge of music: the only man who could get away with telling a man that the band he was looking for never existed; that's knowledge.
One of my friends met John Peel when he was 10 at a party. His mum was chatting to the man about a rare L.P. they had of a band which contained a limited edition poster now worth more than everything in my house. They're slightly drunk, including Peel getting slightly red-nosed from the alcohol sweats. Then my friend walks over and his mum says: 'this is my son'. Peel then bellowed 'Son!' and bear hugged my friend.
The news of his passing hit the music world big. On the underground circuit we're talking John Lenin territory of loss. The man who raised Mary Anne Hobbs into the pioneering DJ she is now, still carrying his torch for the masses, along with every artist touring the U.K. underground circuit today.
Saturday mornings mean different things to different people. For young children it is the time to watch cartoons on TV, for teenagers it is the time to lay in bed and moan and for adults it is the time to catch up on all the jobs and chores that have been accumulating during the week. But there is an alternative that may well appeal to adults, no not that! On a Saturday morning between 9.00am and 10.00am is a programme on BBC Radio 4 called Home Truths. This is hosted by John Peel and is a very pleasant way to pass an hour either relaxing in bed or sitting in your favourite chair (away from the cartoons and the moaning teenagers). John Peel seems have always been on the radio and there is something very reassuring about hearing a familiar voice on your radio. He has a very distinctive voice and I am sure his character and appearance has not changed for years. The programme is a collection of contributions and stories from listeners that are related in a very informal way, but very clearly and concisely put together. Although each programme can stand on its own merits, you will appreciate the show more if you listen for a few weeks running. Little themes continue from week to week, as well as new items being introduced each week. Some of the stories relate listeners experiences that I am sure they may have kept secret for years, but John Peel seems to have a great knack in getting people to open up and tell their stories as if they have totally forgot that they are being recorded for national radio. To the listener it seems almost as if it just a chat over a cup of coffee, or a pint in the local village pub. You almost feel at times as if you shouldn’t be listening, as these are private or family stories, but you are enthralled by the interesting tales. I love the programme. Often you can relate to the stories from experiences in your own life and it tends to put things nicely into perspective. Every Saturda
y I find myself thinking OK I have a lot of things to do now, so I will just listen to the first few minutes, but an hour later I am still glued to the radio. If you want to read more about the programme you can look on the BBC web site at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hometruths/ Also if you miss the programme, or want to listen to it at a different time there is a link on the web site to listen to the programme. If I miss the show on a Saturday I have to find a pair of headphones on a Monday and try to look intelligent whilst working on my PC as I listen to the programme. I feel that John Peel is like an old friend, although I have never met the man. I know that his children are William, Alexandra, Thomas and Florence and his wife is Sheila, although in recent years he does use her name much more, whereas he always used to just refer to her as The Pig. Perhaps he is mellowing as he gets older, like the rest of us. The programme relies on people contacting it and this is made easy by a whole collection of contact methods including: telephone, fax, letter, text message and e-mail. If you can spare an hour on a Saturday morning then do give it a listen. You won’t hear any pop music, no adverts, no plugs for books. Just interesting people, telling the rest of us about their lives. I can highly recommend it.
It's not often that I get up early on a Saturday, if I'm not going to work. I'm a lazy bugger and love my bed and being able to lie in it. But, there is one thing that tugs at my dreams on a Saturday morning. John Peel's radio show on Radio 4 called Home Truths. I assume Mr Peel was offered this show as a direct result of his very funny columns that have appeared over the years in the Radio Times, in which he discusses his family, their viewing habits and, well everything really. Nothing seems to be sacred. I'm sure had he been my father, I would have disowned him years ago for telling the world every little thing that I did as I was growing up. Actually there is virtually no chance of that happening with my dad, as he has trouble recalling my birthday, let alone amusing anecdotes regarding my mis-spent youth. In fact, it's a good thing my brother and I are so physically different otherwise I'm sure our names might be a problem for him. I digress. Home Truths is a radio show where members of the public write in, phone in, fax in - and of course in this day and age, e-mail in and relate things that have happened to them and their families. All linked beautifully by John's wonderful dryly humourous, but terrifically empathetic voice. I have often been reduced to tears by this programme. Firstly of the laughter kind when listening to the fantastic tales of obsessed fathers who drag their families out on the day before a holiday, to time (with a stop-watch) how long it takes to get from the house to the bus stop and then from the bus depot to the train station complete with the empty cases they will be carrying next day, but forgetting that they will be filled and might slow the progress down. Secondly of the heartbreaking kind, when you hear a story about a mother who is having to rush a marriage, because the bride is dying of cancer and they want to make sure it's the happiest day of her life. <
br><br> Often the things that they feature in one show will spark huge debate in the next show and other people will comment on similar things. It's probably one of the easiest shows to put together as the public do all the work for them, although I'm sure someone who works in radio could point out the error in that statement. When the show first started it created a huge wave of complaint from listeners, saying things like "Not the sort of thing Radio 4 should do!" I couldn't agree less. It's wonderfully at home on Radio 4 and I often phone my dad after listening knowing that he'll have had the radio on and we discuss the things we've heard on the show.. Just what Home Truths is about really. I actually recommend putting it on your clock/radio alarm on a Saturday so you wake up to it. No matter how much you like your sleep, you'll become so involved that you wake up gradually and not just wander the house grunting at everyone and the cat and demanding your first cup of coffee before you can function. I usually get up and am nice to my partner after listening.. It's even better if a loved one brings you a cup of tea in the middle of the show. But, be careful of it, we don't want you choking on it during a funny bit. Give it a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. In fact, you can actually listen to the show or read all the tales after each program on the Home Truths page on the Radio 4 website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hometruths/people.shtml