2019-09-16_The_Big_Issue_UserUpload.Net

(Jacob Rumans) #1

18 | BIGISSUE.COM 16-22 SEPTEMBER 2019


Presenter,musician,author


letterto my


younger self.


Mark

Radcliffe

hen I was 16 I was living in Bolton, and I’d just
finished my O-levels at grammar school. I was
the singing drummer in my band and that was
my only hobby; I loved it. I was quite a clean-cut
teenagerthough,I’ve never looked very rock’n’roll. I drank cider like
everyone else but there were a few guys keen to experiment with
drugs and I wasn’t one of them. I was quite studious and bookish. I
never grew my hair long like the rest of my band. I look at old photos
of us now and it looks like three guys in a band next to a man who
collects library fines.

I never considered any kind of job in the media when I was young.
I was going to be the drummer in a big rock band and that was it.
I left university with no idea at all what I wanted to do, other than
wait for my inevitable big break in music. Such was the extent of
my lack of planning that I applied to be a sales rep for Avery grocers’
scales, because the job came with an Opel Kadett estate car. And
I thought, I could get my drums in that. I also made a deal with
myself, and that’s one of the things I feel most proud of my younger
self for. I remember vividly saying to myself, you’ll be working for
a long time – go for something you enjoy, rather than chasing the
money. Try to get enough to get a semi-detached house and a
hatchback car, but don’t become a businessman and end up with
a life you don’t like. In the end, it all worked out slightly better
than that.

I started working at Piccadilly Radio, the radio station in
Manchester in 1979, when Factory Records really started happening,
and Manchester had a big, thriving scene. I ended up presenting,
probably thinking of myself as a sort of junior John Peel. I was very
measured. I’ve heard tapes of those shows and I sound like a
manic depressive. Then I moved on to present a show on the old
Radio 5 called Hit the North, once a week for £60. I thought, this is
a good hobby.

Some people say that Marc [Riley, Radcliffe’s previous on-air
partner] and my breakfast show was the best one Radio 1 ever
had. But I don’t think I agree with them. It never really felt like us.
Having a sudden idea then wittering on about it for half an hour,
like we had done on the graveyard shift, just didn’t fit into the fast
pace of mornings. It felt like a very big deal at the time, taking over
Chris Evans after he left so dramatically. The change was front-page
tabloid news. We were in the full glare. That wasn’t our world and
we weren’t ready for it. I think back now – a little part of me thinks
perhaps we should have moved to London, maybe we should have
just embraced it all and maxed out that opportunity. But on the
other hand, I think maybe I’ve benefitted in the long run by never
being a big flavour of the month star. We know now Radio 1 had a
shortlist of two for that show – us and Ant and Dec. Why on earth
did they choose us?

I’m releasing an album of electronic music this month [as part of
the duo Une] and the funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever accepted
that I won’t have a career in music. I still harbour that dream, the
one I had when I was 16. I know there’s a 99.999 recurring chance it
won’t happen, but there’s still a 0.000001 chance that Quentin
Tarantino will hear my album and put it in a film. The only certainty
is, if you don’t try it’ll never happen. I don’t think I’ve ever lost
that hope.

There are things I regret about getting divorced. I’m a very happily
married man now, and I’ve had two more children, and I’m very
close to all three of my children and they all get on. And I get on
with my ex-wife. With the passage of time it’s all fine. But when you
get divorced you have to really hold your nerve and that can appear
quite cruel, because you’re doing a very selfish thing. I look back at
that person and I do have regrets about that.

I’m not as self-contained now as I once was. I’ve noticed that
happening to me. When I was young I went off on holiday on my
own quite a lot but I don’t relish being on my own the way I once did.
Perhaps I got bored with myself. Perhaps as you get older you crave

W


2007 Drummingup
interest inhisband
The FamilyMahonein
Wolverhampton

1996 A-OKwith
theBoyLard,
akaMarcRiley

2019 Radcliffe is
one half of Une, with
electronica tech head
Paul Langley

Photo:

Hayley Madden/Shutterstock

Photo:

John Bentley / Alamy Stock Photo
Free download pdf