Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Non-fiction Week! John Peel, margrave of the marshes

In yesterday’s post I tried to attract a better class of reader with a terribly serious review of a PROPER GROWN UP BOOK on the English language.

Let’s be honest, it was a bit ambitious for a blog whose readership consists of barely-literate family members and washed-up, burnt-out industry has-beens.

(It did however did reveal one gem though. It turns out Adland Suit’s Grandad was no less than literary BIGSHOT, the late Robert Burchfield. This is a BIG DEAL. He wrote stuff like, you know, the Dictionary. Admittedly I did poo-poo his revision of Modern English Usage, but it was only a poo-poo in relation to Fowler which is in reality no poo-poo at all.)

So anyway, today I’m lowering my sights a little, with a modern classic that’s accessible to common people.

This is for all those of us who stayed up late (having school next day) listening to the first (and usually last) airing of songs by bands with names like Agraphobic Nosebleed and Serious Drinking.

Peel’s great achievement in this book is perfectly translating his voice onto paper. It’s uncanny, and lovely to hear again. As a homage, I’m thinking of writing my next British Gas bill stuffer in those dulcet Scouse tones.

Sadly, he was only halfway through writing it when he died in 2004. So his wife Sheila picks up the story. As a result, the second half is less delightfully Peel-y but still a worthy read.

As you’d expect, it’s got some cracking anecdotes, like how he wound up at a press conference in the Dallas Police Headquarters the night Kennedy was shot. To prove it’s true, you can see him at 5:08 here.

Now, for your reading pleasure, I include my favourite bit, the fantastically surreal Bay City Rollers appearance at a Radio 1 Roadshow at Mallory Park.

1 comment:

  1. Barely literate? If I knew what that meant, I might be offended.