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Peel

27 October 2004

Ooh, that was a long silence. Sorry, but Iíve hardly been able to get near the computer this last ten days or so, and when I have thereíve been other priorities than the weblog. Shock, horror! But I am frustrated by the way my writing-time is suddenly encroached on, pent up, cribbíd cabined and confined, all of that. Sometimes you just have to bar luxuries.

And such a busy time Iíve been having of it, too. I think this is inherent: that when Iím doing interesting things I canít take the time to write about them, and when I have spare time to blog itís because thereís nothing happening worth talking about.

So Iíve been to London, Henley and Huddersfield; Iíve eaten brains and roasted marrow and chitterlings at St John in Smithfield, which has been an ambition for a while now; Iíve given lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and readings; Iíve been in conversation with Iain Banks; Iíve got drunk a lot, and trodden (expensively) on my glasses. Betweentimes Iíve been chipping away (when allowed to) at the young-adult fantasy, which must be about on its fourth draft by now. Still trying to tune in the tone of voice, itís been twenty years since I did this and my agents think Iím asking too much of the target readership. I just think kids have got dumber, or publishersí expectations less demanding.

This week, Iíve also had to deal twice with the death of an icon. Charles Shaar Murray reviewed Banksieís new book in ĎThe Independentí, and mentioned en passant Ďthe late Brian Aldissí. Which was a shock, as Iíve been reading Brian for thirty years or more, and talking to him on and off for twenty-five. Interestingly, I never did believe it; as soon as I read the words, I assumed it was a cock-up, and a quick e-mail confirmed that.

Alas, though, John Peel really is dead. It was the lead story in all the media all day yesterday, and theyíre still talking about it today, in a busy week of news; I think heíd have been quite shocked. Like every decent right-thinking radio fan in this country and beyond - planet-wide, indeed, what with the World Service and the internet - Iím beyond shocked. I never did subscribe to that mass hysteria that sweeps through this culture when a celebrity dies, but Peel wasnít a celebrity, he was just this bloke we listened to, ever since we first got a radio and a set of headphones. In my case, again, thatís thirty years or more; I have friends whoíve known him longer. I used to hate half the music that he played, but he was still and always the only DJ worth listening to on the BBC, a genuine and independent voice against the plastic playlists of his colleagues. Now heís gone, I guess the plastic will subsume that last little corner, because who else is there to take it over? I detest nostalgia as a principle, but some losses are irretrievable; thereís a thread broken that cannot be replaced, and the world is measurably poorer for it.


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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.