Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Get Well Soon Candyman.

"English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water, nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete, bold flag-bearer, lotus-fed Miss Havishambling opsimath and eremite, feudal still, reactionary Rawlinson End.

Danny Baker, inventor of the football phone-in? Radio broadcast genius? A font of all knowledge on popular (and not so popular) culture? Punk rock pioneer? One of the greatest music journalist's this country has ever produced? Or as he would maybe put it 'Joe Shmoe from Kokomo' fighting cancer?

I'll go for all of the above if pressed.

His absence from our afternoon and Saturday morning airwaves had already suggested that something was amiss health-wise with Dan yet when the news broke on Monday via an extremely witty and moving message posted on his Star Garter Facebook page that Dan was fighting cancer, it still stopped me in my tracks.

Now don't get me wrong, i don't know Danny Baker at all personally, yet when I'm out and about most weekday afternoon's and Dan is weaving his spell on BBC London 94.9, i feel like i do. It's an odd sensation. It's almost like sitting in your local boozer chewing the fat with a mate you've known for years.

Some of the most astounding and genuinely funny shows have involved trying to tempt Bowie out of retirement via his 'The Dame At The Dome For A Dime' campaign, or listeners phoning in about burning 'off colour' magazines in a dustbin and the half burnt pages blowing across the neighbours gardens' or Dans tale of how his dad woke him with a cuppa the morning Marc Bolan died with the soothing refrain " 'ere boy, that popstar fella you liked? wossisname with the hair and the make up?" "Marc Bolan?" Dan replied, "yeah him he's planted! Gorn!". It was as if you were eavesdropping on a private moment between Dan and his old fella!

Then there's the music, oh that sweet sweet music. To slightly more snootier ears than your average Danny Baker listener his choices may seem absurd but to the listener it makes sense. Why not start with a spot of Danny La Rue then onto a spot of Tonto's Expanding Headband, then onto some classic Beatles segued into some Anthony Newly (singing Dan's 'Candyman' theme) and then back to a spot of Kenneth Williams or The Bonzo's. A magical assortment of tunes that more often than not hit the spot.

What most people outside of his daily group of London based listeners will know Danny Baker for are his long standing radio football phone-ins which are worth an article on their own and something i couldn't possibly do justice to in just a few hundred words. If you've never heard any of his stuff then i heartily recommend you head to where a lot of the early Radio 5 606 shows with Dan and Danny Kelly are archived and available to download. If you've got a spare ten minutes then i advise you to track down the show with the caller from Dundee who's father made him a massive plywood bow tie in Dundee colours for him to wear to matches. The tie was so heavy he had to take a broomstick to games with him to prop it up as he wore it! Fifteen or so years later and i still can't make it to the end of the call without tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks.

So to add to the avalanche of get well soon wishes that have been sent Dan's way i'd like to send my own and hope Dan beats this 'mouldy diagnosis' and is back on the radio soon with a rainbow round his shoulder and his hat on the side of his head delivering a Pip and a Dandy of a show for us faithful listeners. If positive vibes were a cure for cancer then he'd have it licked already.

Get well soon Candyman.

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