The last show of 1991, and the end of an experiment which was never repeated again, allowing Peel to pick his favourite records and sessions across the year. He saved the best for last, I was lucky enough to make my choices from a near 2 and a half hour recording in which very few tracks failed to impress me enough to make my cut. Of the ones I chose, only one is unable to be shared:
The Pied Piper - Dreamers (Lucid Dream Mix) - After all that fuss about I Say Yeah too, I am so bummed out that this isn't available for sharing. A piece of lovely breakbeat filler featuring a sample of someone saying "We are the music makers and we are the creators of dreams."
You can ponder on the ones that didn't seduce me by having a look at the tracklisting.
Christmas 1991 was a bit of an end of an era for my family. We had had our Christmas Days wrecked over the preceding years by sharing them with my father's elderly uncle and auntie. She was sliding into dementia and he, never a kind man in his youth, was not able to deal with it. They rowed incessantly, I think they may have stayed together for the good of their daughter who was born with learning difficulties and was an unlucky pawn in the middle. She would play quite a part in my family's life until long after Peel had died. The three of them came over that Christmas as always and we dreared through proceedings, I escaped upstairs after dinner, coming down only to watch that overextended Only Fools and Horses episode set in Miami. I knew we were in trouble when they dropped the laughter track. Elsie, Cecil and Beryl left at 8pm with Elsie claiming that Cecil wanted to kill her; Cecil looking like he would carry out some sort of painful retribution when they got home and Beryl telling us that she was going to live us when both her parents died. Needless to say, when my dad got back from dropping them off, he and my mum went straight to the whisky so they could get their Christmas properly started. We were one less person round the table by Christmas 1992....
I enjoyed Christmas of that year though, mainly because Ipswich Town started to put their indifferent start to the season behind them and put together three consecutive victories against Charlton, newly minted Blackburn and Port Vale, two years to the day that they helped Town greet the new decade by putting five goals past them. Something was brewing in Suffolk, as though the team had been keeping their powder dry while I tried to get a girlfriend in those inconsistent autumn months and now that I had failed, they were ready to ensure my devotion to them again with a promotion push. Peel noticed it as well. No longer able to get to Anfield to watch Liverpool, he had started accompanying The Pig and his youngest son, Thomas to watch Ipswich play at Portman Road. He thought that they looked ready to make a serious push towards the imminent Superleague as it was quaintly called back then and he wasn't altogether happy about the prospect of them being there. Perhaps he foresaw how negative we would become once John Lyall moved upstairs and Mick McGiven took over.
One of the unexpected bonuses of these recordings is catching moments of the Radio 1 outside of the Peelverse. In 1991, the station was still populated by names to whom Matthew Bannister was but a voice on the wind and nothing for them to be concerned about. Before cueing up the first track from Nirvana, Peel pondered aloud, "Does anyone in 1991 still regard the promise of gags as an inducement? We shall discover." before playing a trailer for Adrian Juste's New Year's Eve show which sounded like the very thing to get anyone not otherwise feeling desperately lonely if not at a party on that dreaded evening, feeling even worse. (God, that's an appallingly constructed sentence. Looks like something Jay Leno would have read on his Headlines slot). Bannisterisation is still a long way away from this blog's remit and despite Juste's caustic putdowns of those who came after him (particularly Danny Baker), a listen to that trailer shows just why it had to happen. "Let us provide the music, you just have to put out the nuts!"
Like Peel, I spent my New Year's Eve, "Staring out of the window, blankly". No, I spent it watching the BBC video of one of the great classic Doctor Who stories: The Deadly Assassin. Peel was
tempted by an invitation to a fancy dress party held by The Sausage Machine venue in Hampstead, which promised free entry to anyone dressed as Dave Hill from Slade.
Peel was in fine form in this show. And he ended it with the type of story I loved him for. Before playing an appallingly cloying track by Ed's Redeeming Qualities, Peel dedicated the track to a bloke he had seen in a cafe earlier that day, "Obviously off his head, who spoke at great length, most eloquently and at the pitch of his lungs of his enthusiasm for masturbation." A nut that even Adrian Juste might have turned his nose up at.