Monday, November 25, 2013

Remembering Ray Gosling

The journalist Ray Gosling died last week. Younger readers will know him, if at all, for his prosecution for wasting police time after claiming on air that he had smothered his terminally ill lover. (It should, of course, have been the BBC in the dock, if only for failing to protect an elderly and rather fragile man.) But in the 1970s he and his socially engaged reporting were a fixture on Radio 4.

The Leicester Mercury remembered Ray Gosling with an extract from his memoirs Personal Copy in which he described setting up a youth club in Leicester in the early 1960s:
I remember coming back one night from Oxford, around four in the morning, and as we came in over the bridge into Central station I could see the lights and the open door. Walking down the street and in through the door, the jukebox was playing and there were two dancing couples. 
There had been a good take-in from the till, and the coffee was still good and hot and fresh. There was blood on the floor, and the dirt from a fast night. 
It was an oasis in a city of the dead. The only place open and exclusive; the sort of place where I could feel proud at being a customer.

1 comment:

Phil Beesley said...

Ray Gosling earned his place in collective memory as one of the BBC presenters during democratisation/northernisation of speech radio. He had the ability and luck to find interesting stories shortly after the BBC determined that citizens understand regional accents (cf Coronation Street, Granada TV, 1960). The presentation tricks that he and others developed continue in contemporary broadcasting, to the annoyance of listeners.

I have to challenge your comment about his prosecution for wasting police time. In recent years, the police have been expected to respond to 'historic' accounts of sexual abuse and assault; the police officially record allegations of homophobic or transphobic crime; theoretically, they treat rape and domestic abuse survivors differently than in the past. All of those are good things.

I don't think the police had much choice other than to investigate Ray Gosling following his 'confession'. The challenge, which does not suit tick box managers or tabloid editors, is how police officers and prosecutors use professional judgement.