Network: My Technology: A spin doctor's friend

John Peel on the little bit of plastic that's always in his pocket

WITHOUT AN insignificant-looking, tiny piece of plastic, I wouldn't be able to play many of my most-liked records. The small, circular gadget slots into the centre of the record and makes it the right size.

It's the only thing I take with me everywhere. It's a bit of a joke, really. I always say it's like being a doctor, and you take your stethoscope everywhere. I like to imagine an "is there a doctor in the house?" situation with a DJ. If it ever happens, I will be there.

It's one of those things, like the back of your knee, which seem to have no name. The reason why a lot of records have holes too large is partly because of the jukebox; the record would have a big hole punched in it so that it could fit this different type of turntable.

An individual one is called a "spider", and is a very fragile little piece of plastic that can be put in the centre of a record permanently. There is the big central column that the record rests on, and it fits on the middle silver bit that sticks up, and fills the hole. There are quite a few turntables that circumvent the plastic circle and have one that's built into the turntable, and pops up if you need one.

Of course, my favourite bit of technology is deemed unnecessary because so many records are transferred on to CD these days. The CD sound is a deconstructed and reassembled sound; it is bright and brittle and too glossy. I think you lose out, particularly with old 45s, and a lot of records that are ex-jukebox, because they were originally recorded with that medium in mind. I think of the surface noise as battle scars honourably won, patterns on a painting. Suffice it to say, I go out of my way to buy records, and always check to see whether something is available on vinyl. It's cheaper, too.

But the plastic hole-fill was essential when I used to do DJ gigs. These days, with the personality DJs, all of their records are transferred to Mini Disc, so they don't handle the music. But I often found myself plonked in front of a turntable that didn't have the pop-up piece in the middle. Nightmare. So from those days I have carried one around with me. It's always in my right-hand trouser pocket, so now you know what to do if ever there is a case when I am unconscious and a record must be played.

I have tens of thousands of records that are put wherever we can find a space. There is a sort of a system, but the sheer volume of stuff coming in means that it breaks down quite regularly.

At home, I have industrial-strength equipment. Obviously, I am not looking for something too sophisticated, because of the sheer volume of work it has to do. You can't have fancy gear when you are using it for 12 hours a day.

We have a little studio in the house, and it's where we do live programmes for Radio 1. It would not be identified as a studio, it hasn't got sound proofing or anything, and looks like a rather elaborate home stereo system. I don't know how to use it - my grasp of technology is zero. I know that Broadcasting House dials a number and if they have done it correctly then the light flashes and I am on air.

John Peel's Radio 1 programme can be heard on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10.10pm

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

booksReview: Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments