He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

A Musical Void

Unless I’m very much mistaken, everyone loves music - it’s an intensely personal thing. Our music tastes are influenced in so many different ways, but the preferences we have in our adult life tend to be formed from what our parents liked, the music that was around in our teenage years and our idols. We all have our idols, oh yes - false or otherwise.

My parents were dedicated Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and Fleetwood Mac fans, which deeply influenced my music taste. I still play Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon with fond affection, but ultimately as a teenager I craved something new, original and unheard of by the masses. I actively made a point of shying away from the mainstream.

As a teenager, you make a point of researching new things - it’s all an essential part of forming your identity. John Peel became one of my idols. The discovery of his evening weekend show meant that I could tap into a new resource of unheard music. Whilst my peers were generally getting their fill of bland Stock Aitken & Waterman pap, I was taping Ride, The Wedding Present, Prophecy of Doom and Diblo Dibala off the radio. Even now, a quick five-minute youtube shot of Mr Dibala1 strutting his stuff still manages to put a smile on my face irrespective of mood. Freaky.

Throughout his career, John Peel was an extremely influential DJ. Many bands that he initially championed ended up becoming legends in their own right - Pulp, The Orb, Nirvana, T-Rex, The Smiths to name but a few. As I got older and Radio 1’s schedule changed, I became comforted in the knowledge that at some point in the week, I could tune in to his irreverent broadcasting style and get a few new musical names to research. He played records at the wrong speed, got track names wrong and left big silences in his programmes - but it didn’t matter, because ultimately his passion for all forms of music was infectious.

It would be fair to say that when John Peel died back in 2004, I felt a void in my life and didn’t listen to the radio much for a while. Unfortunately, Radio 1 went on to fill the gap in their schedule with a few people who didn’t really quite fit the bill. Sure, Zane Lowe had some interesting stuff, but it wasn’t the same. I felt the need to start researching alternatives.

I discovered a “closest match” - in the form of BBC Radio 6. Whilst nothing will ever quite sound like Mr Peel, the one thing that immediately comes over is the DJs passion for music, as well as the diversity of their playlists. It’s about as close as one is likely to get.

Unfortunately, there are several reports in the papers that BBC Radio 6 is going to be axed - I’m not entirely sure why. Admittedly, the station only has about three quarters of a million listeners, but as it’s cheap for the BBC to run, I don’t understand how this is such a big deal. It looks positively frugal when you compare it to the costs of keeping the likes of Moyles and Mills running.

I’m really hoping this isn’t the case. I can’t have been alone in my teenage quest to hunt down new, non-mainstream offerings. BBC Radio 6 is the probably the best option for a whole wave of new people to investigate and listen to a diverse range of new music, that unfortunately Radio 1 now fails to offer, mainly because it’s playlists have become so narrow and are largely filled with expensive DJs, who to be honest, don’t inform, educate or entertain as much as they should. In their quest for ratings, they’ve sacrificed a diverse schedule.

I’m hoping that you’re in agreement with me. I’ve made it known to the BBC that I’m dissatisfied with their potential proposal to close the station down and I hope you will join me - before we lose a musical gem that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. As Phil Jupitus said, “The end of 6 Music at this moment in the BBC's history is not only an act of cultural vandalism, it's also an affront to the memory of John Peel and a slap in the face to thousands of licence-payers.”. He’s right.

1 - Yes, all Diblo Dibala’s stuff sounds similar - manically jolly guitar accompanied with an entourage of formation dancing girls. Love it or loathe it, you’ve got to admit he was one hell of a musician.

An Explanation

For those that still ask about Mr Dalliard - yes, you know who you are.

Watch. And learn.

Second video here.


Nearly five years ago, I got rid of my television - a lifestyle choice that I don’t remotely regret. Whilst the item largely sat in the corner of my front-room collecting dust, that was only a minor point - I objected to paying a yearly tax for something that didn’t justify its expenditure. There seemed little point in paying over £100/yr just for a screen to play DVDs and a games console on.

That’s not to say that a certain agency won’t nag you, though.

Over the course of that five years, I’ve had about ten letters from TV Licensing, threatening me with a £1,000 fine if their mind-probe devices ever found TV reception equipment in my house. They’ve threatened me with fines, house-searches and body-cavity searches* if they found any hint of me watching Eastenders at the time that it was actually broadcast, God forbid.

But every so often when the threatening letters turned up, I continued to put a deft finger in their direction and ignore them.

Until my last letter turned up - and that just got me angry.

To quote the offending paragraphs:

Our standard practice is to now visit your address to confirm that no type of television receiver is being used there to watch or record TV programmes as they’re being shown on TV. This includes the use of a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, computer or mobile phone. Our visit should take no longer than a few minutes.

If you are still not using TV receiving equipment at this address, you needn’t take any action. Just expect a visit from us soon.

Does anyone think these guys are pushing their luck here? Not content with trying to tax TV users, anything with a screen would now appear to be suitable prey - and how long before you need a licence just to get internet access? Does that mean we’ll soon need a TV licence to access the likes of iPlayer? (You don’t at the moment). If so, this change is just the tip of the iceberg.

As for me, well I’m going to continue ignoring TV Licensing’s bully-tactics - no matter whether I’m on their database or not. I don’t have a TV, or a device that looks like one - it’s as simple as that. In the meantime, I just hope that the recently instigated review of the licensing authority actually comes to something meaningful, before loads of OAPs have the shit scared out of them...

...but of course, this is nothing new. Just don’t expect to get in my house unless you’ve got a warrant.

On a final note, I recently got a DVD of old public-service broadcasts (remember Charlie and Splink, anyone?) - and I saw this. The criminal bit isn’t the owning of the telly, it’s the watching of Columbo...

* maybe not the body-cavity search, but they’d give it a go if they could.