Archive for March, 2010


by on Mar.29, 2010, under Life

Life is an amazing thing and its only truly enhanced by the people you meet. Some people are just fleeting aquaintances, some are the people you befriend, and some are the people that make an impact on your life, even shaping your own existence. The latter are the rarer of course, but once in a while you are truly blessed by these encounters.

I met John through his brother, my dear and close friend Alan and it became immediately apparent through this meeting why I liked Alan so much as there was a lot of John in him. It was an innocent evening where we just went for a curry but I cannot remember ever meeting someone who made me laugh so much about the most daftest of things. I was a lot younger then and tales of grandkids would not have been on my top ten list of things of an evening banter, yet John had me in tears of laughter of tales of bedwetting – boy he could spin a yarn and I remember leaving the restaurant in genuine pain in my sides.

But John was a selective man and chose his friends wisely. It was a long process for him to accept you into his bosom – he was a careful man who relied on trust probably more than anyone I knew and he was incredibly selective about who he let into his life. I saw him though on and off for years before I could finally be accepted into his inner circle of aquatintanceship and then friends, and whilst some would see this as hard work, I for one was glad of this effort to become acknowledged, and once in my life was seriously blessed by his friendship.

John was the definition of cynical – he spoke so strongly of his mistrust of those in power (he had his reasons) yet talked so passionately of the things so important to him – namely his family. Of course he moaned about how much of a pain in the arse they all were but with such passion and made it so obvious how much he loved them all. He could wax lyrical about politics, current affairs and allsorts and it was always a genuine pleasure to spy him in the pub of a night as you knew you were in for a genuinely interesting evening. With John, it was never ever a boring night.

But John was sadly afflicted with an illness that was not his fault but that of the British Government and he was infected with something that took him away from us far too soon. He was ill for a long time and whilst always critical of those responsible, his bloody mindedness ensured he lived well beyond the life expectancy the medical people said he should. He drank, smoked, but what is more – he truly lived – and defied everyone who put his life expectancy far lower than he achieved – always the man to stick a two-fingered salute to anyone who told him different.

Yet it was this day, a year ago that he finally succumbed to what had been afflicting him and he sadly passed from this world. It was quick (which is what he always wanted) and he was with friends and doing something not only he was a genius at but something he had passion for. I think he went, if our last proper conversation was a guide, of how he wanted to leave this place – not a real burden and in a peaceful environment – sure he could have been surrounded by those he really loved but he didn’t want them to see him like that – better the memory of the man who lived, not the man who died. And that is how I shall always remember him – someone who truly lived and spent their short time on this planet and made the absolute best of it.

Today those who loved him met for a Sunday roast at O”Reillys in Amsterdam, much like he would have done on any given Sunday and just had a damn good lunch, just like he would have done. There were no real moments of sadness, but it how he I think would have wanted it – friends together, a roast, a pint of guinness and people being around those who are special to them, and nothing could be more befitting for a memory of such a great friend that we all miss so much.

One final word – Vinnie, a dear mutual friend and I were outside having a cigarette with a few other members in attendance and I got to meet his outspoken, cocky and likeable daughter and I commented on how she was so much her fathers daughter. Julia, daughter of John asked me the same of her, and never had I meant it so much when I said she was. And not just her but in everyone he left behind, I see him and smile. A man who truly left behind a legacy.

John, like many I miss you so much and I feel truly honoured that I knew you – my life can only be better for having known you and on this day of your passing a year ago, all I can say is thank you for blessing me with your presence and letting me in. It certainly is an emptier place without you.

RIP, my friend, and like so many I miss you so much. But above all, thank you for just being my friend.

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6 Music – the battle continues

by on Mar.04, 2010, under Media

So since the news has broken about the planned closure of 6 music, this undiscovered little gem of a station has suddenly been thrust into the media on a huge scale. Public outcry and response has been amazing – a facebook group with just shy of 130,000 members, many of whom seem active and vocal and are busy complaining to anyone with an ear (myself included) which I am sure simply reflects the type of listener to 6 – a station hosted by people who genuinely love music (see how many are actually musicians themselves – Lauren Laverne, Guy Garvey, Huey Morgan, Bruce Dickinson, Tom Robinson and Jarvis Cocker for starters) and who play to people who are genuinely passionate about music.

In a way, this whole debarcle has brought out something wonderful – I am reminded of a rather daft film called airheads where the lead guy from the bands outs himself as a nerd in front of a baying crowd, whereupon many also admit to their geekiness (including a wonderful cameo from Lemmy who admits to ‘editing his school yearbook’) and thus a unity is discovered and being different is cool. 6 Music is just like that – we are all the musical geeks with more CDs and Vinyl than sense should permit, we hurl abuse at ‘chart shows’ on the TV (I once threw my Pizza at the TV as I was so disgusted with the banality of acts on Top of the Pops) and we tend to go to ‘gigs’ and not ‘concerts’. We are the uncool kids who could quote lyrics ad-infinitum, who study every album sleeve on purchase and the people who can love a piece of music so much it hurts. And 6 Music is our home – a place we are accepted and a place we can unite – and that makes us – and it – cool.

Whilst it is unjust to place judgement on the listeners of Radios 1 & 2, I do get the impression that surely a large percentage of their audiences are the more unenthusiastic and surely less discerning. Certainly with radio 1 to an extent, it is a station akin a canteen where you are fed whatever is on the menu that day – aka the playlist – not of course ignoring that 6 has a playlist also but the difference is 1 abides by its playlist, almost depends on it, whereas 6 has a more relaxed policy – just a few tunes played sporadically throughout the day and virtually no repetition. So thus we can maybe deduce that listeners to 6 are likely to be more radical, free thinking, adventrurous and enthusiastic whereas possibly your radio 1 listener is more happy to accept what is given, more obedient perhaps?

In light of this talk of a public demonstration are rife with many offering to attend. Many are also spending their time making logos, planning action, spreading the word which is all good stuff and I am quietly confident should a planned demo go ahead, just by the nature of the average 6 music listener (if indeed one should exist!) that a strong turnout could be achieved. I guess the passion the listeners have for music they have for the things they hold dear so could be the very thing that makes this campaign successful – I certainly hope so.

Anyway so far so good – just be interesting to see how strong the support is after the weekend, though I hope it remains as strong as ever. Also great is that this publicity is suddenly bringing in a boat load of new listeners which can only do good!

Just a last observation of 6 music listeners – passionate, adventurous, loyal, enthusiastic – I guess that makes us better lovers too!

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Save 6 Music – a proactive approach

by on Mar.03, 2010, under Media

It has been well publicised that Mark Thompson of the BBC has proposed as part of their cutbacks to close down BBC 6 Music. Now for any of you out there that understand even the slightest bit about my love for real music and haven’t come accross 6 Music before you are missing out on probably the most perfect station there is and something that is part of my daily life. I’ll not go into one of my passionate monologues about why this should not happen, but instead will attempt to offer something for the many people out there who are against this travesty to do something constructive.

Now what I will not do is claim credit for any of the first ideas but just iterate them to maybe a new audience – most of this information has been gathered from the facebook page dedicated to the cause set up by Tracy and Jon Morter, so credit to them for starting it and the 100,000 + members who have contributed.

  1. State your views to the BBC Strategy Review Comittee or mail them directly
  2. Sign the Petition
  3. Get all your facebook friends to join the facebook group – visibility of numbers will count a lot and is being reported all the time in the media at the moment
  4. Especially if you have never listened before, tune in using your computer to 6 music – the more people listening, the more the BBC will realise the popularity of the station – plus I hope you will discover this little gem and thank me!
  5. Complain to the BBC directly
  6. Support the early day motion in parliament

All the above is well and good and will do a lot to help the cause, but I also believe a more visual and well planned demonstration would certainly get excellent media coverage, gain further support and show how strong we believe that this heinous crime to culture is not permissable. Several people on the facebook group have mentioned this and I believe a couple are planning to demonstrate as early as today, but to make this effective it needs thought and proper planning with the authorities.

Things that need to be considered

  1. Timing – We need to pick a day – people have mentioned 6th of June (6th of the 6th) – significant to the cause, but too late – the decision will be made by the trust on the 25th of May. To allow time to plan properly and gain enough participants I suggest the 15th of May – a Saturday and 10 days before the decision is made. Also allows enough people to plan to get there (like me as I have to fly back to the UK for this!)
  2. Location – a march to BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Square makes obvious sense, but a small route to march would be better for gaining support. However all considerations should be made for avoiding problems with traffic – we want to win support, not gain enemies
  3. Although we are effectively supporting the establishment we need their support too so full cooperation with the Metropolitan Police is obligatory. A form 3175 needs to be filled out and more information can be found at the dedicated page on the Metropolitan Police Site
  4. Make placards, banners – there are plenty of resources and pictures available again at the Facebook group for this
  5. Absolutely this must be a peaceful protest – any aggro and the station will be dropped and lose valuable support. But I am sure we are all too nice for that!
  6. Get Support of musicians and other high profile people – if we can get them to participate, we’ll get more media interest

What else can be done?

  1. Your favourite band forum – if you discuss anything musical on the net, post to gain support – especially if its a band you have ever heard on 6 and would never hear anywhere else (and by my reckoning, that’s a shedload of bands).
  2. Mail your favourite band members and ask for their support – I wonder if we could even organise a benefit gig to tie in with the demonstration?
  3. Flyers – if you have access to print flyers, go hand them out on a Saturday and gather support
  4. Badger your local MP to address this in parliament
  5. Get all your mates and relatives to sign the online petition – it’s my birthday later in the week and I’ll be asking people to do this instead of buying presents for me – best birthday present I could wish for anyway is 6 music not dissapearing

– and I am sure there are many more things that can be done, but for now I hope this sparks some inspirations in people. This obviously needs discussion and a focal point for it all, and the facebook discussion place is great but may alienate non-facebook members, so maybe an independant discssion forum could be suggested?

Feel free to comment on this page if you think its a good idea, and thanks for reading. And Save 6 Music!!!

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