Until earlier that year, I had been in a tiny indie band. After the Statistics paper in my ‘A’ level maths, a paper which I failed miserably and completely, I took the unhappy uphill walk back to the 6th Form Centre. It was already clear that my life was going to take an unwanted turn into failed exams, interrupted academic paths and so on.
Back in the Centre a friend of mine gave me a cassette. “You should listen to this,” he said, and I put in into the tape player. The last few bars of “Gold Mining” played and I turned around to Simon to say a few short words about how I didn’t need the mickey taking on that day, of all days.
And then, the sound of John Peel’s voice: “… that was The Visitors, and rather good too…” He’d played it the night before, when I had been trying to revise.
It’s not much but it brightened a horrible day that day and I’m still grateful for it. And no-one before or since would have bothered playing that song, off a flexidisc given away free with a fanzine. As far as I’m aware it’s the only time that song was ever played on the radio. He followed it with another song, “The Orcadian” by an earlier Visitors I’d never heard of before. It was amazing.
That, I suppose, was John Peel for you.