Nick Ahad: '˜Music is more than just a collection of notes'

In a recent interview with the Radio Times I was asked about my favourite radio memories.
Christmas TVChristmas TV
Christmas TV

I confess poetic licence when I spoke about listening to carols on the radio on Christmas Eve with my family – although in my defence, the interviewer also used literary licence: I’m positive I said during the interview that the memory was of listening to ‘music’ at ‘Christmas time’. Although the image of family Ahad gathered around the wireless listening to carols as the children listened for the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof is one I particularly enjoy.

I have always loved this time of year. The sounds of Christmas music, pop songs, carols, the lot, is something that makes me feel particularly festive.

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I remember a Christmas, probably in the mid-80s, when me, my brother and my cousins were all at our nanna and grandad’s house and we directed our own music video to the sounds of Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone. We didn’t have a video camera (we were poor, but we were ’appy, etc) so the only audience for this early Ahad masterpiece were immediate relatives forced to sit and watch.

Another memory bound up with the sounds of the season is listening to Jona Lewie’s Stop the Cavalry while working behind the counter of Wilson’s Fish and Chip Shop in Keighley. Steve the fryer was manning the hot oil, while I was wrapping the hot battered teas of Keighley folk and we found the oompah of the trumpet early in the song inordinately hilarious every time we heard it. Our laughter sits at odds with the message of the song, I know now.

Tomorrow morning I get the honour of playing BBC Radio Leeds’ first festive song of the season on my radio show. It’s a running joke at the station that I start my campaign to have the first BBC Radio Leeds Christmas tune of the year played on Little Nick’s Big Show, the show I present on Saturday mornings, sometime in August.

We all know that the greatest Christmas song is Fairytale of New York (although one listener emails every year to tell me she hates the song and switches the radio off for four minutes every time I play it. No accounting for taste).

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Whatever song I play (sometime after 9am), it’s a lovely reminder that music is more than just a collection of notes. Songs transport us through time and space. The trumpet of Jona Lewie will always put me back behind the counter of Wilson’s Chippy with Steve the fryer and Shakin’ Stevens jingling bells will never not remind me of making that music video with my cousins.

Here’s to a wonderful, musical festive season.