Monday, 26 November 2012

Our Dad, 1943 - 2012

Earlier this year we packed up the car and our three kids and set off on the 250 or so miles from our house to Grandad Turner’s flat by the sea. It was a long, long drive, occasionally punctuated by the usual carsickness and bickering - but they arrived at his door happy, because they got to go upstairs in a lift. And once in his flat they could go out on the roof terrace and see the sea and scare themselves by looking over the side. They lined up all his remote controls on the table and counted them - 22. He had an iPad he let them play on, even a Wii. A robot vacuum cleaner that bounced ineffectually between chairs and walls, bleeping. 22 remote controls! Yeah, Grandad Turner was actually quite cool for an old guy. Of course we never imagined it would be the last time.

When I thought about it I realised nothing much had changed since my brother and I were kids, when the 253 to Stamford Hill, Friday night and back Sunday afternoon, was a decade long ritual. Dad had moved out of our own house when we were little, so I have just the vaguest memory of him coming home from work, and asking if he had any sweets in his coat pockets for us. Is it just in my memory that he always did? Of course we didn’t realise the significance: when we were told he was moving into a flat, our response was, ‘will he take his George Formby records’?


But if you think that coming from a ‘broken home’ - Dad used to jokingly use that term - made for an emotionally impoverished or second rate childhood, stop right there, and think again. To us it just meant that at weekends - any kid’s best days of the week in any case - we had him to ourselves. And those weekends, well, what weekends they were, and what fun we had. Make no mistake, our times at Dad’s were magnificent times.

Dinner was always ham and chips, or egg and chips, or chips and chips, and what’s more, he had a soda stream. There was space invaders on the Atari, football in the park with Dad in goal, weekend long snooker competitions that would end up 63 frames to 39. The spare bed was for tag team wrestling matches. Half a room was taken up by a train set, the network adorned with mountains, trees and tunnels, and of course we set up one head on crash after another.

I like to think Dad put this appalling safety record down to the greedy bosses’ negligence, rather than driver error. Because of course Dad was a socialist and union man. And sure, there were marches to go on, and yes, once he told me he wasn’t too keen on me reading the Beano, as its publisher was notoriously anti-union. But, if I’m being honest, there was a notable lack of austerity around. Like, he had the first push button phone of anyone we knew, the kind you only saw on American cop shows. He had a top-loading video recorder with control levers instead of buttons and a digital watch that I boasted to my school friends about.

And having two homes also meant two lots of holidays, and the ones with Dad were usually the more downmarket kind, which we loved. First the Isle of Wight, hiring a tandem with Dad on the front singing Daisy Daisy give me your answer do, as we trundled down the country lanes. Then the Costa Blanca, all fizzy drinks and blow up dinghies. Later, chicken and chips in Greek tavernas, Dad clicking the waiters, singing Never on Sunday and making us get up to dance.


As the years passed, we would watch every episode of Cheers together on friday nights - Coach was our favourite, then Woody - and more often than not, the next day take three buses out to shabby forgotten suburbs to watch his beloved Boston United lose to the local non-league side. And big matches too, as I joined him in supporting his other team - away games, cup finals, and then standing together as we watched the horror unfold in front of us at Hillsborough. I used to think it was the team I loved, but now I see it was just our way of staying close.

I don’t recall many bad moods or cross words, those weekends. Dad got by with patience and humour and kindness, and now I’m a dad myself I know that isn’t always easy to do. And yes, authority too - not the strict or shouty sort, but the mostly unspoken kind, where the mildest reproach can feel like a stinging rebuke. But the angriest I remember seeing him was when, stupidly, we thought it would be funny to whisper a racist word.

And all the time, every week, the same familiar, repeated jokes. “I’m hungry” would inevitably meet with the retort “oh hello, I’m Austria” and just as surely “I’m thirsty” would elicit “hello, I’m Friday”. Watching golf on a lazy Saturday afternoon - because back then any sport would do - the commentator would whisper, “and this is for his par”, and sure as you like Dad would call back: “what about his poor old ma?” And sometimes it was not so much jokes as downright lies told for his own amusement, like when I asked why Americans spelled words like ‘colour’ without a u, and he told me that during the great depression the government removed unnecessary letters from words to save on ink.


I loved it as well when his friends came round, the rooms turned smokey, the wine flowed freely and the talk turned to politics and the villains of the day. Of course we nagged him about the smoking. “Yes, yes, I know”, he’d say. “Every cigarette means five minutes off your life”, we’d come back. “Ooh”, he’d say, brightening, “Can I choose which five?”

Of course we didn’t care much about his work in those days - what child does? The only thing that impressed me was that as a young reporter he’d once reported on reserve team matches. Oh, and one other time, when on a cross channel ferry and he told the captain he was the editor of the shipping union paper to get us on the bridge and a go at steering. Later, he held my hand as I threw up over the side of the boat.

But as I got older I became proud of his career, one which burned so brightly so early. And years ago, when saw I him described in a book as ‘assiduous and indefatigable’ they became my favourite words. Now I can read his articles on the Tribune archive online - front page feature articles, smart, authoritative, principled, and all written before he was even 30. At 30 I was still trying to figure out what to do when I grew up. And of course he was still there if I needed, on the end of the phone, never critical, always ready to offer good advice, or a timely cheque.


Well, maybe we grew up, but to us Dad never changed, not really. To us he stayed reassuringly the same, even if as the years pass you begin to see the person, not just the father, vulnerable, with flaws and hopes and fears just like yours - sometimes very like yours, too much. But still there was the dry wit, never dulled. And if he was outwardly cynical we all knew it barely hid a sentimental streak a mile wide. His affinity for the underdog and sense of fairness never wavered, either; as if to prove it he kept taking on mediocre football teams around the world until, by the end, it seemed he had one on the go in most countries. More than ever, he bought gadgets, just out and still too expensive.

And the final act in my life: the way he took to the role of Grandad with grace, and pride. He just as generous with them as he was with us way back when, and they loved him back. Of course he couldn’t do what he used to when we were young - no more games in the park - but nothing could stop him making them laugh. But if I can allow myself one regret it’s that my kids didn’t see him enough, and that they won’t know him as they get older, and learn to get his jokes.


You don’t really know about loss until you lose someone, and nothing prepares you for the jolt of losing your father. Suddenly you realise that he’s always been with you, however hundreds of miles away he actually is, that you’ve been subconsciously consulting him, seeking approval for your actions. So it’s hard to come to terms with the strangeness, the disbelief, the downright not-rightness of thinking that you’ll never talk to someone again. And although on the face of it you seem to be progressing through the normal stages - shock, turning to profound sadness - you still don’t really believe it, not really, that it’s not some sort of elaborate prank and he won’t call tomorrow afternoon and demand to know why you haven’t been in touch.  

When he was in hospital, still just weeks ago, I asked if I should come down. He said ‘Good god no, I’m not dying!’. So I said sorry to him - finally - for the time, on holiday one year in France, or was it Spain, he was in a table tennis competition and we thought it would be funny to support the other guy. He hadn’t forgotten.  

So if I’ve already said sorry, and it’s too unreal to say goodbye just yet, maybe I should just say thanks. Because, not everyone is lucky enough to get a good dad. So thanks for the millions of jokes, and for showing me how to be a father. For the dislike of hierarchy and ceremony and authority, except of course the authority of dads. For the love of music, especially the more obscure sort. For how to do a cryptic crossword and the difference between less and fewer. For the Turner good looks, and for showing us that every single person is as precisely as good as every single other person. For teaching me young that all red wine is good red wine. Thanks for the football teams but you can probably have them back now, because they’re no good to me now. For the wrestling and for the soda stream. Thanks. Thanks for being our dad.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Reviewed: Justin Fashanu - The Biography

Justin Fashanu: The Biography
Book review

When Justin Fashanu was a young professional, just out of the youth team and still wet behind the ears, a journalist asked him how he’d like his life to progress. His reply? ‘I’d like to get richer and more famous’. As Jim Read points out in his gripping, long-overdue biography, this wasn’t what eager young professionals were supposed to say. They were supposed to say they wanted to improve, learn from the older pros, win a regular place in the first team. But then, back in the grey, macho world of early 80s football, Fashanu wasn’t much like anyone else. Opinionated, flamboyant and (we now know) gay, he must have seemed like he’d come down from another planet. Football had never seen anything like him. It still hasn’t.

This was just before the moment that would change his life. Playing against Liverpool with the Match of the Day cameras watching, Fashanu had received the ball on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal, flicked it up with his right foot, turned, and volleyed it past the Liverpool keeper with his left. As Read points out, Fashanu didn’t normally score such spectacular goals; normally he was all elbows. Some team-mates even uncharitably put it down as a fluke. No matter - it looked sensational, and it was duly voted goal of the season. The problem was living up to it.

After two explosive seasons at Norwich, Fashanu was sold to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest for £1m, but a disastrous spell gave him a reputation of an expensive flop from which he never recovered. He spent most of his career moving around the lower leagues, attempting comeback after comeback, injuries scuppering his chances of ever recapturing his former glories. Read’s meticulously researched book charts Fashanu’s extraordinary journey from Barnardo's home to the big time, then onward to his lonely death in a Shoreditch lock-up. There is a dizzying array of clubs and characters along the way but in Read’s able hands the story is never less than gripping.

And symbolically Fashanu still matters: remarkably, more than 20 years on, he remains the only top-class player to come out as gay. A childhood in care, black, gay - it’s almost tempting to see Fashanu’s life in cartoon terms, as a crusader - Mr Diversity, perhaps - taking on prejudice wherever he finds it, seeing off isms one by one. But while Read rightly draws attention to the prejudice he faced at the hands of rival fans and atavistic managers - in particular the monstrous Brian Clough - the Fashanu he gives us is as flawed as he is admirable.

Because while he vividly demonstrates Fashanu’s breezy charm and winning personality, Read is far too honest a biographer to gloss over the less appealing aspects of his character. Always a lover of money and the limelight, the young Fashanu showed the almost touching naivety and carelessness that can come with early, unexpected success: driving around Norwich parking wherever he pleased, amassing hundreds of fines that he thought he was too famous to have to pay. And as the demands of his extravagant lifestyle began to outstrip his earning power the story becomes darker, with Fashanu using his charm to exploit friends and admirers alike. And while we shouldn’t underestimate his bravery in coming out while still playing, Read reminds us he that did so by selling his story to the Sun for a huge sum at a time his career was floundering.

While Fashanu often spoke out eloquently against prejudice, he was too unreliable too, unpredictable, too torn to ever be a reliable spokesman for the gay community. For one he was never able to reconcile his sexuality with his religion, and at times even tried to go back into the closet. And a string of tawdry tabloid stories in which he falsely claimed to have had affairs with Tory politicians then with his (soon to be former) friend, the actress Julie Goodyear just made him seem desperate and ridiculous. It was this confusion that enabled Justin’s brother John to be able to claim that he wasn’t really gay, just mixed up - a dubious attempt to rewrite history. Read, without ever descending into prurience, does the truth a favour by providing plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Read is also adept at encapsulating social history within the space of a few paragraphs, elevating the book way beyond the average sports biography. One particularly strong section details the way that the black community reacted to Fashanu’s coming out, in particular his appalling treatment at the hands of black paper The Voice. Here, Read offers a potted critical history of African and Afro-Caribbean attitudes to gay people, putting the affair neatly into context. And it’s a trick that he pulls off again and again.

More prosaically, but just as importantly, the book counters the still commonly held assumption that it would be virtually impossible for a top player to come out as gay. Indeed, it is to Read’s great credit that he consistently refuses to fall back on lazy assumptions about bigoted sportsmen. Because while his teammates were somewhat bewildered by Fashanu on occasion - one telling scene sees him turning up to training with his own masseur in tow - even after he came out they mostly rubbed along pretty well, and they thought rather highly of him.

Of course it helped that Fashanu had intelligence and disarming charm to spare, and was fluent in that staple of footballers’ communication, banter. At the Scottish club Airdrie, a player calls Fashanu a big poof. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, Fashanu breezily replies. If anything, his fellow professionals seemed to enjoy the campness, and Fashanu to play up to it. Read cites one joint television interview in which Fashanu and a teammate unleashed a string of double entendres: ‘And I’ll try to get hold of his long balls from the back’. But it wasn’t just camp jokes. When Hearts fans protested at Fashanu’s impending arrival, the club captain wrote to the local paper in his support. And when a former teammate’s brother came out as gay, it was to Fashanu that he directed him for advice.

Read also nails a few long-held myths, such as the self-serving story Brian Clough told about Fashanu. In it Clough has himself asking the still closet-dwelling player where he’d go if he wanted to buy a loaf of bread. A baker’s, Fashanu supposes. And where we would he go if he wanted a leg of lamb? A butcher’s, Fashanu shrugs. So why, asks a triumphant Clough, do you keep going to those bloody poofs’ clubs? This exchange has has been repeated so many times it has become an accepted truth, but Read shows conclusively what we should have suspected all along: that the conversation was entirely a product of Clough’s alcohol-fuelled imagination.

Finally, of course, there is Fashanu’s tragic, self-inflicted demise. Wanted by the American police, he hanged himself while facing dubious charges of sexual assault against a young man (not, in fact, as the author assiduously uncovers, technically a minor). He left what must be the chirpiest of all suicide notes, taking this final chance to look back at his career (‘What a start’) before defending himself against the accusations, and finally thanking a long list of people. Betraying barely a hint of depression, it reads more like a Oscar acceptance speech than a suicide note.

So right to the end the enigmatic Fashanu refuses to reveal his true self. But then, was there a ‘real’ Fashanu? He was rarely the same person two days running. Devastating in front of goal then tripping over the ball; couldn’t do enough for people, or would only do anything if there was something in it for himself; fearless on the pitch yet so timorous he’d beg, weeping, to be substituted; irrepressible and gregarious then distant and withdrawn; a highly moral, religious man who readily exploited those around him for money. He is always just out of view, leading the author a merry dance, resistant to Read’s valiant attempts to pin him down.

Friday, 1 July 2011

This Sunday I will attempt to run a marathon, despite possessing no apparent sporting prowess. In fact, it would be fair to say I am to athletic ability what Edith Piaf was to regrets. I signed up for the event a sadly typical casualty of modern living - high blood pressure, a bit overweight, dodgy knees – and my (highly unscientific) training programme has emphatically failed to reverse this sorry state of affairs. Perhaps the problem has been my habit of celebrating the completion of every training run with an alcoholic drink. But then I've always been rather too fond of a glass of wine or two (often followed by a few beers, cocktail hour, a couple of nightcaps then one for the road). So, with the big day almost upon me, just how worried should I be? I decided to attempt to ascertain whether running a marathon is easy, or in fact hard, and my painstaking research took me in some unexpected and intriguing directions.

Running a marathon was once seen as the ultimate athletic achievement. In ancient Greece, the seemingly arbitrary distance of 26.2 miles was actually carefully calculated (by Copernicus) as the furthest a man could safely run without being in danger of falling off the edge of the world. Even by the time the London Marathon was launched in the early 80s the event was still seen as something special, only to be attempted by the foolhardy or the athletically gifted. But now the damn things are everywhere; if you look out of the window you'll probably see one going on right now. These days, those looking to really stand out run 'ultramarathons' or 'iron man' events in which contestants run through fields of landmines before being mauled by lions and finally nailed to a burning cross. For charity. In comparison, ordinary marathons can look a bit, well, weedy. You can't really blame people for thinking that 26 miles just isn't as far as it was back in the day.

But perhaps it would be a mistake to dismiss the event so lightly - because in reality marathons can be, quite literally, lethal. Around 10 people a year die running marathons (admittedly fewer than the number accidentally killed changing the bag on their hoover, but still). It is of course notoriously difficult to know whether to attribute such deaths to the act of running itself and the toll it can take on the human body; perhaps they were all run over. So marathons. Easy or hard - how can we know? It turned out that to shed some light on the matter I needed to delve deep into popular culture.

I first looked at the curious case of the man responsible more than any other for destroying the mystique of the marathon, Eddie Izzard. To recap: in the summer of 2009, Izzard ran 43 marathons in 51 days. With five weeks training. And no significant experience of running. The question was understandably asked: if a middle aged comedian best known for his passion for the AV voting system can run 43 marathons in a row, can it really be that difficult? And back came the answer loud and clear: no. Already notorious in countless ways, Izzard – who ironically competed under the first past the post system - became something of a bĂȘte noir to marathon runners who found they no longer commanded the same respect.

So far so good - all the evidence was pointing to marathons being easy. But what if Eddie Izzard is no ordinary mortal but in fact a rare and remarkable physical specimen, an outlier? Because when I looked at two other notable cases, the picture began to change drastically, taking on a significantly darker hue.

The HBO drama series In Treatment follows handsome, brooding pensioner psychiatrist Paul Weston and his roster of patients. One is Alex, a physically imposing fighter pilot recently returned from a mission in which he personally bombed and killed a whole bunch of Afghani schoolchildren. You must have been very badly affected, broods Paul. Nah, says Alex, it ain't keeping me awake at night any. Alex, we infer, is one tough dude.

It then emerges that Alex had recently gone through a near death experience. He'd been out running and, perhaps propelled by the demons lurking within, carried on way past the point of exhaustion. And, despite every bone, every sinew, every cell in his body screaming at him to stop, he just kept on running and running. Eventually, his shattered body simply gave in, and he suffered a near fatal heart attack. And how far had he travelled by this point? 22 miles. And this a fighter pilot in the US armed forces trained to the very peak of physical fitness. You may have guessed where I am going with this. If this highly trained, physically imposing child-killing machine couldn't make it past 22 miles, what chance do I - a poorly trained, confrontation-avoiding wimp who has never so much as (seriously) maimed a defenceless child in his life – what possible chance do I have to make it 26? 26 and a freakin' bit, mind you!

The picture darkened further still when I learned of the plight of Ricky Wilson, the singer from the Kaiser Chiefs. Earlier this year, Ricky ran the London Marathon, laudably raising many thousands of pounds for charity. But towards the end of the race he too began to feel the effects of exhaustion setting in. Yet Ricky also ploughed on and on, driven, perhaps, by the haunting failure of the Kaiser Chiefs' third album. And every man, every woman and every child was screaming at Ricky to please stop; to cut his losses, prevent any more damage, just please stop releasing records. Finally, with just over two miles to go, Ricky's poor battered body simply gave up the ghost. Like Alex before him he collapsed and had to be raced to hospital, where, with the nation holding its collective breath, he thankfully made a full recovery. But my point is this: If this highly trained, quick witted hit-making machine couldn't make it past 24 miles, what chance I?

Alex from In Treatment and Ricky Wilson off the Kaiser Chiefs: almost faster than I could take it all in, terrifying evidence of the (near) fatal effects of marathon running seemed to be mounting up. I began to panic. But I thought to myself, well, Ricky was probably too busy to train properly anyway. And then I realised that Alex is actually a fictional character and, strictly speaking, has no place in any serious forensic analysis. Finally I thought of Izzard and decided to pour myself a nerve-calming drink and toast the man and his exploits. My first choice was beer, but in the spirit of things I thought it only right to take my second, third and fourth preferences into account.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

In the late eighties, when I was a teenager in London, pickings were slim for young music lovers like me. Radio 1 was still firmly in the grip of Simon ‘our tune’ Bates and Gary ‘young, free and single’ Davies; we did have John Peel, and treasured him, but sometimes yearned to not have to sit through sessions by, say, Extreme Noise Terror to get to the good stuff. There was no internet, of course, and albums, even on cassette, cost the best part of a tenner. You might find this hard to believe, but we didn’t even have Spotify. We did, though, have no fewer than three (broadsheet!) weekly music papers - known as the ‘inkies’ - and it’s no exaggeration to say I read about music a lot more than I actually heard it. So when a lively little radio station called Q102 popped up out of nowhere it offered a ray of hope to us music starved young pups. It wasn’t particularly legal, and it came and went sporadically in the fly by night style of other pirate stations. But it was a far cry from the sort of pirate radio that blasted out of minicabs crossing the Thames; it was more like the NME in radio form. Indeed, Steve Lamacq from that organ was an early presenter, a vastly enthusiastic, shambolic presence who seemed to love all indie music equally. A few years later Q102, now fully legit and above board, relaunched as XFM. For a while, all seemed well, but this is not a story with a happy ending. Just look it now, and weep with me: owned by something called Global Radio, tied to dreary playlists and staffed by obnoxious presenters, it has become the unloved purveyor of landfill indie.

I relate all this as a salutary tale and a riposte to those who claim that if our beloved 6 Music were to be closed by a timorous BBC, as has been widely reported, it could be easily replaced by the commercial sector. After all, it’s only pop music, right? And a company called Absolute Radio have said that they would buy 6 Music from the BBC and run it better and at half the cost. Now, we don’t know what their idea of running it ‘better’ is, but I somehow doubt it will include the esoteric delights of Jarvis Cocker ruminating at length on Camus, breaking off only occasionally to play something by, say, Suicide. Just a wild guess.

Actually, I can’t imagine much of the output of 6 Music finding a home on other stations. At a push, Adam and Joe might get a slot on Radio 2. Otherwise, I fear if closure is allowed it will truly be the day the music dies. Because sometimes 6 just seems too good to be allowed to carry on. Today, for instance, I switched on 6 and the very first thing I heard was John Cale’s timeless Paris 1919. For those of us who have grown up listening to pop radio, we’re just not used to this kind of quality from our broadcast media. As many have pointed out this week, the 6 schedules are filled with knowledgeable, passionate presenters playing music they really care about. Even the playlist is reasonably unobtrusive. I’m talking about people like Lauren Laverne, Stuart Maconie, Tom Robinson, Jarvis, Marc Riley – and not least Steve Lamacq, having come full circle and finally sounding in his element on 6. It’s easily enough to forgive them for Liz Kershaw. Even the highly unsavoury George Lamb serves a purpose, which is to encourage us to become more fully rounded people by listening to Radio 4 for a bit.

Best of all, though, is the peerless Gideon Coe. I have ‘Gideon Coe’ moments all the time, which is when he plays something that I thought only I liked, or that I loved as a teenager but haven’t heard for 20 years. It might be something by Neutral Milk Hotel, or the Monochrome Set, or Miracle Fortress. I often look up at the radio in surprise. Is he really playing this? And he introduces me to about five things I like that I’ve never heard before - every night. The closest antecedent is probably Mark Radcliffe’s old Radio 1 evening show. Radcliffe, great while he lasted, was derailed by his ambition. It’s something you can’t imagine ever happening to Gideon.

Of course even my precious 6 isn’t perfect. It will occasionally submit me to musical horrors, and sometimes even to the Horrors. Just the other day Collins and Herring, without warning, put me through the ordeal of listening to an entire song by U2. If I tune in during the daytime there’s a good chance I might be subjected something unpleasant by Florence and the Machine. And there are probably too many musical celebrity DJs, Jarvis of course being an honourable exception. Yeah, that means you, Huey Morgan. But we put up with these things from those we love.

So what on earth are they thinking? The proposal to close 6 is included in a leaked report ironically titled Putting Quality First, authored by a Tory goon called John Tate. The accusation is that stations with low audience and low public recognition make for poor value for licence payers’ money. Only 20% of people surveyed had heard of 6 Music, they say. The average listener age is 35, they say, as if there’s something wrong with that. My response would be: so what? Putting it bluntly, if someone hasn’t heard of it, they’re probably not going to like it anyway. I don’t think the average man on the street would jump at the chance to hear Brazilian psychedelia on the Freak Zone on a Sunday afternoon, if only he knew it was there. Anyway, audience figures of 700,000 don’t seem so low to me, for an under-promoted digital only station. I also find one in five a surprisingly high figure and the annual budget of £7m a drop in the ocean, come to that, but maybe that’s just me.

As many have reminded us this week, the BBC’s founder Lord Reith stated that its purpose was to ‘inform, educate and entertain, to enrich people's lives’. We can only assume that this is what Mark Thompson had in mind when he commissioned Snog Marry Avoid for BBC 3; or when he courted the Pope to appear on Radio 4’s odious Thought for the Day; or when he thought it might be a good idea to close down a rare shining jewel of broadcasting excellence whose loss would leave a massive music-shaped hole in people’s lives. But we should not be surprised if Mark Thompson does not always display sensitivity and good judgment. After all, this is a man who was once forced to formally apologise to a colleague after biting him on the arm during an office dispute (his victim unsportingly ‘took it the wrong way’ and complained). I think we can conclude Mr Thompson is probably not a big Belle and Sebastian fan.

I’m an optimist, and my feeling is that 6 Music will survive, at least for now. What the station has on its side is a base of highly articulate and passionate fans, and my guess is the scale of the backlash will take the BBC by surprise. Protest groups and campaigns have sprung up. People like me have been inspired to complain to the BBC for the first time ever. This is what 6 Music does: it inspires devotion. There have also already been a deluge of articles in its defence, eloquently presenting the case for survival. One notable exception was the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis, who unhelpfully pointed out that the output often sounds like a ‘student indie disco circa 1989’. Thanks Alexis. And your articles often read like they belong in a student newspaper. In 1987, at a polytechnic. But I digress.

6 Music is for people who still love music, but have reached a point in their life where they don’t necessarily have time to seek it out like they used to. And what a luxury it is, to be able to turn on Gideon and hear Can and the Ronettes and Animal Collective and the Staple Singers and the Zombies and Yo La Tengo and...yeah, you get the idea. 6 Music is our constant companion and the soundtrack to our lives. Unfortunately the BBC doesn’t seem to cherish it like we do – and the only place it can exist is within the BBC. After all, just look what happened to XFM when the money men got their claws into it.