Firstly, apologies to my Danish and non-UK readers, as you probably won’t have a clue who Motor-Mouth Moyles is, but rest assured this guy played an integral part in my journey to becoming a photographer. And in 2010 I actually got the chance to tell him. Well, actually I kinda got in a bit of a flap with my words and mumbled some bollocks that hopefully he understood, but I’ll get to that bit in a mo.
The backstory of the BBC Radio 1 DJ isn’t relevant to the story, but I started listening to his Drivetime show on the way home from Buxton College in 1998, and it was great. The bus driver would stick the radio on for the 90 minute drive home and my cousin and I would just sit there listening to the programme and laughing our heads off all the way home. And back then the music was alright, too: a bit of early Eminem here, followed by tracks from Oasis’ Be Here Now there.
Fast forward to 2004 and Chris and his team had been promoted to the Early Morning Breakfast Show, and the self-styled ‘Saviour of Radio One’ was attracting regular listeners of up to 6 million every day. Of course, his controversial style and often rude put-downs brought a lot of criticism his way, including the regulator OFCOM, but the early-morning energy and ridiculously funny games, song parodies and general banter were enough to make me want to crawl out of bed in the morning. Which is why I was over the moon when my employer, the internet bank Egg, gave us all an egg-shaped pocket radio to listen to to get through the mundane jobs.
So every morning I would sit and listen to The Chris Moyles Show and just laugh very very hard until 10am, managing to release those all important endorphins that are necessary to enjoy life. And with my headphones jammed tightly in my ears, it meant that I was never distracted by my colleagues and I could just focus on crunching numbers hour after hour.
But then one day my boss took me to one side and gave me an ultimatum: either I stopped listening to the show, or I handed the radio over to her. I stared at her for what seemed like an age, not really knowing what my answer should be. So instead I tried to explain how happy listening to the radio made me in the morning and that it was contributing to my productivity. My previous boss had been all too aware of the importance of dropping tools around 2pm so the team could head outside for a 30 minute volleyball tournament. We came back to our desks refreshed and full of energy and no doubt our serotonin levels were high. We must have been on fire after that.
But my new boss was having none of that sort of behaviour, so instead I promised to try and keep it down a bit when I started pissing myself with laughter.
Of course, it didn’t last, and within two weeks the ultimatum was delivered once again. This time I packed the radio away in my drawer and sat there in silence each day counting down the hours til 4pm and barely saying a word to anyone. At home I pondered how boring life was becoming, particularly at work, where things had been absolutely awesome 12 months previously. So I decided that I no longer wanted to work for a company that gave me a radio to listen to but wouldn’t let me use it, and three days later I quit.
If you’ve read my other blogs recently you’ll know that I picked up a camera and headed to the US for four weeks: travelling and learning photography at the same time. It was pure bliss and I even wrote in my journal how waking up at 5am in the desert was much easier than rolling out of bed at 7am back home. Part of me had to thank Mr Moyles and Co.
Six years later and now back in Derby working for the newspaper, I opened a Press Release from Derby LIVE and read that The Chris Moyles show was coming to town to do a live broadcast. Typically I wasn’t working on the day it was scheduled, but I managed to wang my way in via a contact I had, and the next thing you know I’m photographing the man himself. It was one of those poetic moments where I just wanted to go over and say thanks, but having read his autobiography a few years before I decided that it was best to just keep my distance and let him get on with his job. He was already telling my colleague, Lucy, that he’d had enough of photos.
Moments earlier, McFly had just left the stage after a quick interview (nice chaps, despite being massively hung-over) and Chris drew his attention towards me and my crazy hair style at the time. “I thought McFly had left,” he joked. “Yeah they have,” I replied. “They’re locked in the boot.”
“Only someone from Derby would say that,” he replied.
At the end of the show I took a few pictures backstage of McFly and Chris’s sidekick, Comedy Dave, when the Big Man himself made an appearance. I seized the opportunity to go and say hi, and suddenly realised that I didn’t quite know how to say thanks in the way that I wanted. I could see the man was in a rush, but as we stood there in the stairwell, our hands interlocked in one of those awkward handshakes where neither of you let go, I tried as quickly as possible to tell him how and why I gave up a boring job to become a photographer.
To be fair, he listened throughout as I fumbled my way through a mixture of sounds and words like a Hugh Grant stand-in. And at the end he wished me the best of luck with my career and my life in, and that was it. Job done.
In the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson, the author recommends saying thanks, at least once a week, to someone who has influenced you at some point during your life,. I must say I have to agree with him, though it seems like time is always against us and we never achieve any of the small things that make a huge difference to our lives. But I’m pleased on this occasion I managed to get the words out and just say thanks, face to face. Maybe you should try it too and see how it feels.