Sunday, December 26, 2004

so hard to beat

It's surprising how deeply John Peel's death has touched the national psyche, and how it continues to affect people and be a topic of conversation. Seems like we all thought he was a hero but somehow also thought the rest of the world thought of him as an old duffer who played bonkers music, often at the wrong speed.

After so much idle recreational grief at celebs dying, and all that sickening tripe about how Reagan was a good guy (let that make us forewarned and forearmed against anything other than vengeant jubilation when Thatcher goes), and how Diana was 'one of us', the aftermath of Peel's death is so very different.

There's something tremendously heartening to know that what he did and what he stood for meant so much to so many. That people really got it, they loved and respected him out of a real understanding of what he was about. I feel like it's been proven that my compatriots are kinder, more intelligent, more humane and more weird than I gave them credit for.

Even excruciating Radio 1 morning DJ Chris Moyles who is a reliably arrogant and boorish egotist - if you imagine Steve Wright as cocaine then Moyles is ketamine and Special Brew consumed on a heavy dirty comedown - was affected. Receiving a text asking if the mourning shouldn't be lifted after several days he simply told the author, on air, 'go screw yourself'.

Most weeks since Peel's death I've had a DJing gig, and I've made a point of putting Teenage Kicks into the record box. Most times I've played it someone's bounded up euphorically shouting 'JOHN PEEEEEEEL!'. Always celebratory, never maudlin.

At Aspire's superb all-nighter on the 11th I played an extended set in the Radio Savage Houndy Beasty room due to the rest of the Beasty boys misjudging their intake somewhat (one of the team urgently needed to dance and stroke people, the other two just sat there for several hours, wide-eyed and exhaling loudly through pursed lips).

After spinning Teenage Kicks I left a gap before starting the next record and shouted 'let's hear it for John Peel!'. It got the best enthusiastic cheer I've heard since the bit in Paul McCartney's Glastonbury set when he asked for a cheer for another John.

Speaking of which, Glastonbury Festival, the cultural barometer of Britain, has renamed the New Bands stage in Peel's honour. Though it was always a bit of an odd name anyway for the place that put on 'new bands' like John Cale, Spiritualized, Ian McNabb and Patti Smith.

Glastonbury's site is also one of the many places that have a touching personal eulogy.

Radio 1 had a commemoration night on 16th December called Keep It Peel, and the BBC have set up a special Peel page full of links and archive material.

Meanwhile here on the funksome streets of Leeds 6, he is commemorated in several ways.

Within a couple of days of his death, a stencil-spray appeared on walls, pavements and roads around LS6.

The front window of a house in Brudenell Street wishes that the simultaneous Bush and Peel news stories were reversed; PEEL FOR PRESIDENT, BUSH FOR UNTIMELY DEATH

And then at the corner of Hyde Park there's the statue of Robert Peel, godfather of the Conservative Party and inventor of the coppers. He's been sporting rather natty England face paint for several months now, but this week his plinth has been amended to suggest that we commemorate an altogether better class of Peel.


scarletharlot69 said...

so, since Peel's name was John, it is not in right order to call the fuzz bobbies. the correct term for peelers is "Johnnies" lol!

blessed be

Bluebell x

Anonymous said...

glad u like my stencil :) rock on peel!

Anonymous said...

Nice pics, im from LS6 myself and i spotted the stencils and statue, not the house though (?). I assume you didn't know JP once called LS6 the most musical postcode in Britain? Well, you do now.