Episode Forty-Seven – On A Little Bit Of Douglas Adams With Maynard And Seasons Greetings
Hello to all of you! During what has been a rather difficult December (but honestly, really nothing in comparison to last year), I’ve started thinking about how to do things better for myself and others. I guess that’s one of the things that this time of the year does for people. One way to deal with things to improve myself is to take simple steps – even if it involves just answering unanswered emails.
In that spirit, I’ve sealed an envelope to send a surprise late-Christmas present to one of my listeners in the USA. They asked back in October as to whether or not the Token Skeptic stickers that I have – one is featured on the picture of me and my hat on my ‘About’ page – were for sale.
Since I typically give these away at conferences (I really have to develop a better business sense), I have sent about a handful of stickers in the post, which I hope will reach them after the Christmas postal rush has died down. I hope you’re having a good holiday, Howard, and I hope you enjoy them.
As for everyone else – well, this is the best present I can send to you today. It’s a tiny part of a larger interview that Maynard, of http://www.maynard.com.au, conducted with Douglas Adams, back in December 1990. From Wikipedia:
Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English writer and dramatist. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a “trilogy” of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film.
How come this audio is available? Well, firstly, I met Maynard in Sydney, earlier in the year, and mentioned that I kept on one of my audio tapes this very interview for about twenty years. If you want the full story, just click here.
It’s with the late (and much missed) author Douglas Adams and this is only a part of what the interview has to feature – it goes for about five minutes? The whole interview, however, goes for about twenty to thirty minutes in total and I’m certain that Maynard will feature the whole thing on his show very soon. He’s already put a few teasers online via Twitter, and you can find his account at MaynardComAu. Please listen to his show and send him your support, as you do my show.
Thank you Maynard, thank you to all of the listeners to this show – again, it is incredibly appreciated and I hope you’re having a good break or at least a good rest. Thank you especially to the Digital Cuttlefish, who has been particularly supportive during this time and to all of the members of the Young Australian Skeptics podcast.
What follows is the full story of how this audio came to be on Mp3:
Next to me on the table (and, in fact, in the photo you can see in this blog-post) is an audio cassette that is twenty years old. Audio cassettes were a significant part of my teenage life in the late 80s and early 90s.
I would start recording JJJ radio early in the morning, around 5 or 6am, in order to catch as much music as possible. I still have nightmare-like reactions to the tune of Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s ‘Mercy Seat’, because one particularly early morning I fell asleep listening to it over my economics homework that was due that day and left unfinished the night before.
Before school started, I would listen to Maynard’s Breakfast show – and then hit record again on the other side of the tape as I left to go to school, in order to get the rest of it. My recording would also get much of Angela Catterns’s programming as well. I remember listening to the likes of Tony Biggs and Tim Ritchie, and became a fan of the interviews of Richard Kingsmill. I listened to as much Helen Razer and Mikey Robins as I could get away with, as my elders considered their content ‘too graphic’.
What made the radio station particularly unique during that time was the unstructured playlists, which were greatly influenced by the choices of and the ‘personality’ of the DJ on air at the time. On Maynard’s show it wasn’t unusual to have KC And the Sunshine Band played next to the Happy Monday’s ’24 Hour Party People’, then be listening to some virulent and offensive (and incredibly catchy) TISM track and then suddenly be blasted by some long-forgotten Village People hit. All of this while Maynard’s producer Simon appeared to hang on with his fingernails to the earphones as people calling in would either complain or praise the eclecticism.
I ‘Dobbed in a Dag’ as a birthday present for a friend, resulting in them being humiliated nationwide for their ABBA record collection. I learned about comedy in Melbourne, about AIDS/HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, about horrific disco venues in Sydney and the power of Hawaiian shirts.
I have never been to Newcastle, but a part of me still believes that it is a town built on castanets and loud trombone solos.
What made the JJJ Breakfast show particularly enjoyable was the occasional interview with a range of people – and one day in December, 1990, Maynard interviewed Douglas Adams. From the very first quirky question as to whether he was a ‘big Sinatra fan’, Adams went along with the flow and seemed to really enjoy the experience of having genuine fans of his work phone in to quiz him about why the ‘junk mail’ was a vital part of solving the computer game of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or even to bemusedly answer ‘WHY???’ as to his creation of the Dirk Gently Detective Agency series.
Everyone at my school was a fan of Paula Abdul, Roxette, Bon Jovi and nauseated me with endless ‘Unchained Melody’ by the The Righteous Brothers – but I had stacks of bootlegs featuring The Cruel Sea, TISM, Doug Anthony All Stars, Morrissey, The Church and Single Gun Theory. All mixed in with random tunes that would not have been out of place at either the Haçienda or a gay bar in Kings Cross.
For one year I had my listening schedule completely cut off from me, as I worked on a remote farm doing an Agriculture degree, far away from the broadcasting range of JJJ. No matter how often I would stand on top of the caravan I lived in, desperately tilting my radio in every direction trying to get anything that wasn’t:
a) Country And /Or
I failed miserably.
During that time I spent away, the music changed. I would no longer hear Thomas Dolby, Guru Josh, New Order, 808 State, or even the Hoodoo Gurus singing about ‘Miss Free Love’ when I returned to the city. Everything became grunge – everyone appeared to be ugly with checked-flannel shirts and incredibly monotone while they were at it. It’s taken me some time to revisit that particular era and find some appreciation of it, because I was so disappointed and biased. It was only when BritPop came into fashion that I started to listen to the radio again. By that time, the JJJ I loved and listened to had changed forever, with all the quirk I loved ‘blanded-out’.
But I still had my bootleg tapes with days of radio recording. I also had that one Maynard F#Crabbes interview with Douglas Adams, kept carefully labeled and with the tabs cut out, to prevent my recording over it.
I would play these tapes (and the few that I had purchased that weren’t recorded off the radio) endlessly while driving during the 1990s and I occasionally play them now. I didn’t see the point in getting a CD player for the car, since I had more than enough on the radio if I wanted and plenty of cassettes that brought back good memories. Even now, I’ll switch between a tape and my iPod plugged into the system.
When I met Maynard in person earlier this year, I mentioned this interview and only now, post-TAMOz, have I found the time and a quiet place to record it onto Mp3 and send it onto him. Many thanks to Maynard for being a part of that long-ago time that I still revisit – and for conducting an interview with Douglas Adams that I kept for exactly twenty years this month, because I thought it was that brilliant, funny, insightful and fun.
Maynard’s site is at www.maynard.com.au.