Genuine Affection Breaks My Heart
I'm in work early today (because it's Friday and I want to play GTA : San Andreas tonight till my fingers drop off). I was walking to the garage in the pitch dark this morning, when I saw two figures down the street. My natural wariness of street urchins meant that I will always be on my guard, but there was something odd about these two figures. The taller one looked like a man but had a really bad limp and was lurching up the street. I couldn't make his face out as it was dark and he was still about 50 metres away. The smaller one was walking ahead, and would seem to walk quite hurriedly, then stop and turn round before walking off again.
Now, I can't say that the thought didn't cross my mind that maybe the dead had risen overnight. In fact it didn't so much as cross my mind, as break out a sun-lounger and have a good old sit down in my brain.
So I got the car carefully out of the garage, the slower limping one wouldn't be able to get me but the smaller one looked like a rage filled zombie. As I reversed out, they were gone out of view. I wasn't being fooled, I knew they were about to jump out from the top of the garage.
They didn't though. I drove off as normal, catching up with the two "zombies" at the shop round the corner. The limping zombie was actually a tall young man. With a limp. The smaller female zombie seemed quite annoyed that the guy was taking so long. Which was a bit harsh AS HE HAD A LIMP.
So, no zombie apocalypse today then. I felt slightly disappointed as I drove up Plungy.
Then again I always feel slightly disappointed on Plungington Road.
Over the last couple of days I have been reading a lot of tributes to John Peel. I do this because I am sad that he is no longer with us, but also as a lot of the tributes come from bands and people that I like. Radiohead, Blur and Pulp all said really sweet things; I also found what was written on The Delgados website quite touching.
When I read this by Mark Radcliffe last night though, I had tears in my eyes (and maybe a stray drop or two down my face. But don't tell anyone. I'm a toughie. Grr!).
Mark Radcliffe isn't a sentimental man (sentimentality is something I possess bucketloads of, which you'll notice if you ever read this blog), but his immense fondness of his friend was evident to see. Genuine affection from one person to another will always break my heart
I wrote a couple of months ago about the collective grief people had for Princess Diana, and how I didn't 'get it'. I didn't understand how people could feel such a profound loss for a staggeringly privileged woman who wore fancy dresses at parties and who seemed to get so much enjoyment out of playing the put-down victim. Maybe they envied her lifestyle; that of a princess with access to fancy clothes and lots of money. Oh yeah, and she knew Georgios Michaelopolos.
Yet, it's hard to see how she had a concrete effect on the life of any of us plebs.
With John Peel, I do 'get it'.
A lot of people who never met him have been saddened by his death. The tributes from his friends, colleagues and bands that he promoted have all been touching, yet I think the grief from all those who liked hearing him on the radio is also valid.
There are so many bands who got to where they are due to association with John Peel. The Smiths, Joy Division and Pulp are just three of the bands that John Peel championed on the radio. Anybody who likes music has to celebrate the life of a man who has helped bring bands such as those into our lives. I could sit here all day listing many more.
There are millions of people in this world whose lives have been touched in one way or another by this man, and the grief at the loss of a man who they felt was a friend they'd never met, is both sweet and moving.
I saw a brief tribute on VH2 last night, in which John Peel talked about some of the records that had changed his life. The sheer passion with which he talked about music marked him out as one of 'us'. The fanaticism with songs and bands that he adored meant that anyone who also obsessed over music could feel a great affinity with the man. In a world of increasingly commercialised music and narrowing choice, one of our ambassadors has gone. Of course, the interweb allows us greater access to music, but without exposure by somebody like John Peel, a great deal of it will go unnoticed.
All the tributes, especially the VH2 one, showed up something I already knew from listening to and seeing the man on TV and radio. His laconic and dry wit, the love for his family and pride in his children, the twin-obsessions of music and Liverpool FC, the warmth, friendliness, and thorough decentness of the man; all these shone out.
It's hard to be nice, it's far easier to be self-centred and to treat people as being less important than yourself. We only get one shot of this life, and sometimes we feel that time spent making somebody else happy at our own cost is somehow a waste. It isn't.
We all try to do decent things (well most of us; some people just like to lie to themselves about how lovely they are, whilst others genuinely don't give a shit). Altruism does exist, the selfless act is possible in the 21st century. I think it'd be nice if we treated people better; the world lost a seemingly very nice man this week, we need more of them.