I had to use it somewhere. John Peel, the Mystic Peely, Margrave Of The Marshes, King Of New Music, Living Legend. All of the above apply, and are undisputed. His book is now readable, but was it ever going to translate to the written word? After all, wasn’t the significant part of his charm the very subtle nuances in his deadpan introductions, the eclectic and baffling range of music he played, and the charm and genuineness with which he produced his programmes from home so that links could include telling his daughter to get off the pool table?
You Joey, was there ever any doubt? John Peel and Sheila Ravenscroft appear to both have the gift of adding a poignant charm to even the most ordinary of situations, while the beauty and comedy found in the mundane that made Home Truths so popular, shines through in every word here. It’s tempting to believe, and very much feasible, that a biography by anyone other than these two would have glamourised John’s celebrity connections, his hectic lifestyle, etc etc. This memoir/biography glories in the small things, the little, seemingly irrelevant passing observations that make life what it is.
I could go on, in my usual manner. Suffice to say, this is not an exhaustive catalogue of John’s exploits (there’s a rough list of things he wanted to cover as an appendix, and a whole pile of them remain enigmatically untouched). It’s not a long list of name checks and thank you notes – as he says himself, any such endeavour would end up simply as a paean to Sheila. It’s not your standard biography basically, it’s a read which shows his good points and his bad points, which tells you about his life not out of his desire that you should know, more that he was a genuinely open person and thought you might be interested or amused. John Peel is basically your ordinary bloke with deep-seated passions (Liverpool FC gets as much of this as his music) – it’s just that he got an opportunity to share his passions with a wide audience, which most of us don’t have. A good chap, is our Peel.
I’d happily give the book 5/5 or whatever simply because of the subject matter, but the fact is it’s such a good read that I’d give it 10/10, 100%, 28 asterisks, whatever, it’s that good.
Thanks for listening.