Today will pass most people by and why not.  25th October, so what?  I wouldn’t have remembered the date exactly unless I’d looked it up.  I only remembered it was the month of October. 

It was one of those ‘where were you when JKF was shot?’ moments.  Me, I was working in a kitchen in Edinburgh.  25th October 2004, probably listening to BBC Radio 2.  If I remember correctly it was during a typically uneventful lunchtime service and the news came on.  ‘Radio 1 DJ John Peel has died’.   So what?…..again I can hear you say.   Well, the reaction to his passing so suddenly said it all.  Here was a man who had marked a generation artistically and culturally.  To me he was someone who opened the door to a wide and almost limitless diversity of music, and who played a significant part in widening my horizons generally.

Going back to about 1974/75, the music scene was getting pretty bland to say the least.  On the one hand you had had a number of years of teen bands and the hubris of Abba mania and on the other super groups and stadium rock with 10 minute guitar solos and moog synth’ sounds dominated the airwaves.  Then it all changed.  Punk came along and Peel played it.  My first recollection was ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ by the ‘Damned’ and it still sounds fresh 35 odd years later.   

For a number of years after I was an avid Peel listener, 10.00pm to Midnight, Monday to Thursday and it wasn’t just punk, Ivor Cutler, John Cooper Clarke, Culture some Two Tone tunes too.   But bands like The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ramones were main stays for a while.  His all time favourite tune‘Teenage Kicks’ will always be associated with Peel because like the Undertones who wrote it, he was largely responsible for so many bands and performers getting the oxygen of publicity that led to their success.

When I became lapsed listener, Peel moved on continuing to unearth and promote new talent, styles and musical forms.  I did pick him up again years later on his Radio 4 show ‘Home Truths’.

So, standing in that kitchen and hearing the news on the radio, it hit me.  I either carry on here for a few more years or I take the plunge and do what the intention of my becoming a chef was in the first place…to be my own boss.  Life was way too short and here was a man who had simply departed before his time. Thus followed chats with Goretti and the decision of as to whether we should have a guest house in Scotland or Catalunya. 

So six years on and that is where we are today.  John Peel thank you.   My being here in Catalunya is partly down to you and the windows and doors you opened for me.

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