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A Book in 2 Sessions
on 1 December 2011
I listened breathlessly to the early 80's broadcasts of Peel on Radio 1. The main reason, it is not surprising, was the music he played: Always new, always unknown and always great. Peel's understated sense of humor appealed to me. And it did it again.... at least in the first part. The following is the case. The first part of 'Margrave of the Marshes' is by Peel himself; the second part by his wife Sheila.
Peel died halfway through the completion of his autobiography at the age of 65, and Sheila completed his work. The latter has done it with incredible love, and she occasionally uses even the same writing style, but the last 100 pages is one great ode to her husband, with 'special' anecdotes listed in an obligatory way. Who can blame her for that, and I will certainly not, but it makes reading at the end one dimensional and predictable.
Peel did the first part of the book: in a loose writing style, humorous observations and a lot of intensity. In particular his time in America appealed to me: about his first radio show, his meeting with Kennedy and his first sexual contact (one Session where I was less interested in).
A final note: this is a book about Peel the person and less about the music he played. Ofcourse: The Fall is mentioned, his friendship with Marc Bolan ditto and sometimes a special Peel Session. But it is mainly about Peel, or rather John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, which is his real name.
I got a glimpse into the life of Peel, but after almost 500 pages, I would not dare to say that I also got a look into his soul.