Friday, August 10, 2007

Anthony Wilson 1950-2007

Well, he never made it. I rang Anthony Wilson this afternoon to say hello, because I was going on HIS radio programme this evening, he didn't pick up the phone. But the show went on. HIS programme. It always will be, with all respect to Andy Buckley, who was standing in so well tonight.

A sports programme on BBC Radio Manchester has to be opinionated, to have attitude, to slag off London and its Olympics, to get that spark going between City and United. And the reason it is so is because that is what the media in Manchester should be. And the reason the media in Manchester has to have that edge over anywhere else is because of great journalists like Tony Wilson who died today.

When I got to the studio at 6.30 I heard he'd been read the last rites earlier today. But be bold and do the show. Everyone has been expecting the call all day, but it's HIS show. And Tony, I hope we did you proud. We probably didn't. Had he been listening he'd have called me later and said - you wanker!

The facts can be read here, but they don't tell you what a warm and affectionate friend he was. What a supportive and passionate journalist he was. He always teased me about living in Marple, where he grew up, happily, living on Strines Road, so he wouldn't fall in with bad guys in Salford. Now, there's an irony.

Every meeting with him was a joy. A flurry of inspiration and ideas and wonderful stories. I'll never forget an otherwise workaday meeting at the offices of the Mersey Basin Campaign where we were co-authors of a forthcoming book about the River Mersey. Some of the other writers were asking about "tone of voice". The voice of Tone intervened, and this is accurate: "When Sid Vicious was asked if he wrote for the man in the street, he said "I've met the man in the street and he's a cunt." Write for who the fuck you want."

He did, and you will be able to read it later this year. His mark is on my bit too, but I pushed myself knowing a fine writer like Anthony Wilson was also contributing and I couldn't let the side down.

He always pushed me to think differently about things: Lancashire, Marxism, Catholicism, Islam, and music (where he utterly failed to get me to like some of his awful hip hop and rap).

Whenever we did shows together he always dragged up things to get the conversation going. He was a broadcasting genius. There will be a great deal written and spoken about Tony Wilson over the next few days and all of it will be true, because it was what people wanted to think about him. But he always maintained, even when there were film posters for 24 Hour Party People, bearing the legend Poet - Genius - Twat, he said his public persona had nothing to do with him. But it did. Even in the last sick few months he used his position as the faintly ridiculous "Mr Manchester" to rail at the injustice of the postcode lottery over his medication. Not for him, who had pals who funded his relief, but for those in Manchester who could not.

He was wonderfully close to Yvette, who I feel so bad for tonight.

He was a truly special person who I was honoured to count of as a friend. I will miss him, but his spirit will never be forgotten. All of us in media, and I dare say music, will feel the same.

1 comment:

Nick Morrell said...

To me, Tony Wilson's passing away is on a par with John Peel's. He was that important to the music and culture of our country. Often seen as arrogant and conceited (according to my dad years ago!), in reality he was a visionary, a real genius. RIP Anthony H Wilson.