At the end of last season, as we trundled along from a nice lunch at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush along to the Rangers Stadium in South Africa Road, my friend Joe Boyd – record producer, writer and source of much information on all things London and the late 1960s (he was there) – introduced me to his companion Davia.
As we strolled she asked me if I knew anything about Eel Pie Island. I rattled off a few facts – R&B club of the 50s and 60s in the heart of the Thames Delta, Rod Stewart first spotted on the train station playing the harmonica, 2d to cross the bridge and Colonel Barefoot’s Rock Garden – and apparently impressed she asked me if I’d like to be involved in a piece on Eel Pie Island she was putting together for National Public Radio (NPR), the US’s public service radio network roughly equivalent to BBC Radio.
Davia Nelson is one half of the Kitchen Sisters, independent producers of radio content mainly for NPR for which they have won a sackload of Peabody Awards. NPR is syndicated to over 900 stations across America and its flagship show All Things Considered regularly gets 20 million listeners.
I said yes.
So on a rather stormy evening in May – you remember May, in the Spring, poured down every freaking day – I went over to Joe’s flat in Little Venice and chatted to Davia for an hour or more over a glass of wine. I consulted my notes and she held the microphone. What a great combination and she seemed very happy with what I’d come up with.
And I thought no more of it, heard no more from Davia but fast forward to August and she emailed to say it was on All Things Considered on August 13, where I would hear it for the first time. It’s a terrific piece, incredibly well researched, about 13 minutes long and I rub shoulders with a number of other contributors including Eric Clapton and Anjelica Huston, who one forgets mainly grew up in London (and went to Holland Park School).
To listen to the story of Eel Pie Island, click here …