Chapel FM – Writing on Air


Yesterday I was ‘on the wireless’, the very excellent Chapel FM, based in a beautiful converted Methodist chapel in east Leeds. I was being interviewed as part of the Writing on Air Festival by James Moran, a young writer himself and fellow cyclist, about how I started as a poet.

As in all the best interviews I found out stuff about myself that I hadn’t processed at any conscious level, helped by the fact I felt utterly comfortable with Zoe and James [yes, another one, there were three James people in the studio] the technicians, and my old chum Peter Spafford keeping a wise and experienced eye on the proceedings.

So it was just like therapy and all for the cost of a taxi fare from home.

What did I discover about myself? Well a lot of things about early influences both musical and literary, helped by the fact that I was asked to choose three musical tracks to be played during the programme.

I talked about me as a young gay man growing up in west London, listening to Billie Holiday’s recordings of the thirties, forties and fifties and finding something in her music that called to me. I talked about being given a copy of Joni Mitchell’s album Blue in the early nineties after a second marriage collapsed and how the album found words for the turmoil I was in.

I realized, as I talked, that writers and musicians have often found the words for me, and in my turn perhaps I was trying to find the words for others.

The thirty minutes we gone in a flash, the interview was over and a lovely bond had been forged in the radio studio with the folk there; one which I hoped extended to the listeners.

You might want to listen again! Go to the Chapel FM website

PS: My final track was Esther Phillips singing, ‘And I love him’, a glorious piece of sixties Atlantic soul from another of my favourite singers. This last was just pure indulgence…..