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Author Archives: Paul

Jukebox Jimmy.

Whenever I’m in Bethnal Green, I call in at Pellicci’s cafe. Ideally at around 12.45 on a Friday to share a table with a local character known as Jukebox Jimmy and his friend, Mel the cabbie. Jimmy and I struck up an instant rapport because we were both obsessed with 50s and 60s pop music. […]

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A new job at 82.

82-year-old Gillian Reynolds has just started a new job as radio critic of The Sunday Times after more than 40 years at the Daily Telegraph. I sat next to her once at an awards dinner and she was fabulous. About 75 at the time, she was bright, funny, contemporary and curious. She made me unafraid […]

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Finest hour.

Last night, I finally got to see Gary Oldman playing Churchill in Darkest Hour. It was possibly the finest performance I’ve ever seen from any actor in anything. How this skinny bloke from a Deptford council estate transformed himself into Winston Churchill is almost miraculous and it’d be a travesty if he doesn’t get an […]

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Australia Day…..

…was yesterday and I very nearly spent my life celebrating it as a naturalised Australian. When I was about three, my mum, dad and assorted aunts, uncles and cousins were all set to emigrate en masse from NW2 to NSW. My mum was always cagey about why we didn’t go but I’d guess it was […]

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The Fallen.

Mark E Smith died yesterday. He was the founder and only constant member of The Fall. Since forming the band in 1979, he sacked about about sixty members, which is why The Fall were once described as “Mark and whoever he hasn’t fallen out with”. Famously difficult, he never compromised about anything. He genuinely didn’t […]

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Arms and the man.

The last ten years have seen the unstoppable rise of the “man hug”. It has quickly usurped the brisk handshake, yet I distinctly remember the man-to-man embrace being strictly the preserve of the criminal fraternity. When I was DJ-ing back in the 80s, most of the London clubs where I worked were owned by gangsters […]

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Nice one, Cyrille.

Black armbands and a minute’s applause at all Premier League grounds this weekend to honour the great Cyrille Regis, who died this week, aged just 59. Cyrille was plucked from obscurity in 1977 and suddenly found himself, alongside Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson at West Brom. Affectionately nicknamed The Three Degrees, they were three of […]

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Short Stories.

I have a soft spot for songs that tell a complete story in around three minutes: A Boy Named Sue, Harper Valley PTA, Leader of the Pack, In The Ghetto and Stan are particularly good examples. However, with The Gambler, Coward of the County and of course, Lucille, Kenny Rogers is probably king of the […]

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Funerals are a bit like musicals. Discuss.

To St.Joseph’s Church in Wealdstone. My friend Pat Callanan died just before Christmas and I was there for the old Irish tradition of receiving the body into the church on the night before the funeral. St. Joe’s is right next to my old school and it felt odd to return to everything I’d left behind. […]

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John, Paul and George may have performed the music but Ringo was the music.

Last year David Hepworth wrote and presented “It’s All About The Drummer, Stupid” a brilliant episode of The Essay on Radio 3. In it, he contended that Ringo Starr – often dismissed as the least talented Beatle – was always scandalously underrated. According to David – and indeed to producer George Martin – The Beatles […]

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