I just got a call from my best friend that has shocked me deeply.
So many things flood the mind; first, the disbelief; then the regret of never actually writing to him;
of never getting round to sending that CD of some obscure band that you felt sure he'd love.
Then guilt follows, knowing that you haven't listened to his rich voice - that
life-affirming voice (that's it, life affirming that's why the news of his passing
knocks everything else out of kilter).
Knowing you had the chance to listen once again to his unique observation on life;
to share in those small details of his life at work and at home.
But you didn't .. something else was more important.
He made you feel happy, good about yourself.
Sat close to the radio listening to his instantly recognisable voice; it was like being
part of an exclusive group.
You smiled to yourself when he played that record too slow or too fast.
Mmm, he would say, "It appears I'm playing this at the wrong speed."
He enjoyed his work. He turned you on to all kinds of music.
Here was a man who played junglists Slipmat alongside Mixmaster Morris then followed with
some strange African or Chinese group you had never heard of and wouldn't have done had
it not been for this great man.
Every week I would read his column in the Radio Times hungrily; little stories about
his life, big stories about his ideas.
I also remember he played some amusing track called The Box right in the middle of a
Laurent Garnier session; pure genius.
He shared the pain he went through when his wife was ill.
Then the delight when his youngest daughter Flossie joined him one year on his Festive 50 show.
When his son passed his exams and went to university, you could feel his joy.
He was also a great listener.
On his Radio 4 Home Truths show he would listen to tales of ordinary folk's lives.
Stories that were heart-warming or tragic, funny or just strange would never fail to touch you in some way.
He had a passion for the absurd and revelled in the peculiarities of life's wefts and warps.
He spent weeks on the topic of snails, I remember, or was it slugs ..
Oh how incredibly awful to think the world will move on and you wont be able to turn the
radio on and hear his warmth and humanity.
In this awful world he was a beacon of honesty in the broadcasting world.
But more than that, he was a part of your life - someone to appreciate and aspire to.
He had a place in your home and then your heart.
You could share this special feeling with friends who understood the beauty and intimacy of the man.
You felt he was always pushing the envelope, breaking new boundaries, never one to stick
to the restraints of custom and convention; a pioneer of music and of life.
He managed to create a comfortable niche at the heart of the establishment without
becoming like the sycophantic suited charlatans all around him.
Maybe it was because he lived without adhering to fashion, music trends or without
jumping on and off bandwagons, that he has always felt like one of us.
Today is a sad day for everybody whose life was touched by John Peel.
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