KEVIN MARRINAN - home page.



I am a freelance journalist in Manchester, England producing exclusive news and features for newspapers, magazines and broadcast.
Living on one of Europe's largest housing estates - Wythenshawe - gives me a unique insight into the life and culture of the British working class.
Everything from nursery care, housing, education and employment through to youth issues, crime, entertainment and pensioners rights.
My journalism experience also includes writing advertising copy and advertising features or 'advertorials' for a wide variety of businesses and agencies.
I have computer skills including DTP using Apple Mac/Quark XPress.

Some of my work is reproduced here for you to browse.

JOHN LENNON/TALK-SHOW HOST/RACIST ATTACK/HOSTEL/BOOK REVIEW


If I can be of help, please contact me:



Tel: + 44 (0)421 792 066
E-mail: k.marrinan@mcr1.poptel.org.uk




ANNIVERSARY FEATURE: THE DEATH OF JOHN LENNON

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"Do you know what you have just done?" screamed the New York apartment block doorman. "Yes, I just shot John Lennon,".
On December 8th 1980, at 10.50pm, Mark Chapman, a 25 year old strict Presbyterian from the middle-class suburb of Decatur, Atlanta, caused a wave of international grief by murdering the most revered rock musician ever. Whilst a hysterical Yoko Ono cradled the head of her dying husband, John Lennon's assasin calmly threw down his gun, placed his folded up coat on the ground and began to read a book.
As seems to be the case with assasinations, many people have doubts about the official version of events. There are theories of secret plots complete with double-agents and brainwashing. Lennon's previous anti-establishment statements had, it is claimed, marked him down as a potential trouble causer for the newly elected Reagan administration and according to the British barrister Fenton Bresler in his book "The Murder of John Lennon", the evidence of CIA involvement is overwhelming.
Whatever caused Chapman to fire four bullets from a .38 special into the chest of the ex - Beatle on that warm December night in New York, the fact remains that with John Lennon died the dreams of a generation, the hippy generation. The 'peace' and 'free-love' children are now the lawmakers and guardians of morality.
Lennon's killer was supposedly influenced by J.D.Salinger's 'Catcher In The Rye'. This was the book he was reading at the murder scene. In a bizarre connection to the book's plot, Mark Chapman was said to be angry at the way in which the singer claimed to be one of the good guys whilst enjoying the luxuries of fame and success.
In what was to prove to be his last interview, Lennon was philosophical about the future. He gave thanks to God "or whoever's up there" for allowing the world to survive the tremendous changes that had taken place since the sixties and he concluded by proclaiming that his work would not be finished until he was dead and buried. As Lennon's assasin waited in the shadows of the Dakota apartments, John and Yoko were leaving the recording studio to get some food from a local Deli. Once they were seated in their rented limousine they changed their minds about the Deli and decided to travel the short distance home instead. Yoko got out first, and then John with the tapes from the 'Double Fantasy" recording session. A voice from the pavement called out to John. It was Chapman, who by now was crouching down and aiming the gun. Four of the five shots were on target and John died instantly. An estimated 5000 people visited the scene of the crime that night. A tearful vigil of young and old, holding candles and carrying flowers. Yoko stayed in her apartment and asked a friend to make three phone calls to England: to Paul McCartney, to Julian, John's son from his first marriage, and to John's Aunt Mimi. Fifteen years later and the remaining three Beatles have come together to try to re-take the world by storm. But for many, the Beatles without Lennon is like the Lonely Hearts Club Band without Sgt Pepper.
INTERVIEW FEATURE: JAMES STANNAGE - TALK SHOW HOST.


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Alert the authorities! There is a revolutionary anarchist broadcasting hippy propaganda five nights a week across the North West of England.
"I am an anarchist" says Manchester's answer to Johnny Rotten. " I believe that people should have complete freedom to live the way that they want to without interference from anybody else."
Sounds good to me. But don't anarchists riot and swear and frighten old ladies ?
"Anarchy means freedom with responsibility. We should have the freedom to do anything we want, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else."
The dictionary defines anarchy as 'general lawlessness and disorder, usually resulting from an absence of government', but the way James puts it sounds a lot nicer. Anyway, I'm not about to disagree with the host of the most popular radio phone-in outside London - if you've ever listened to his show on Piccadilly 1152 then you'll know that this man will quarrel with anybody about anything.
"I don't set out to argue with the callers, but I do try to get the best out of them. I don't want to spend four hours each night getting bored and I'm sure the listeners don't".
There are many words to describe the James Stannage show, but 'boring' is definitely not one of them. On an average night there will be debates on such topics as sex, politics, religion and the latest news stories, sometimes in great detail, usually with passion, but Stannage never allows it to become dull. The fact that few of the callers appreciate the skill needed to keep the whole thing flowing is a testament to his expertise. I wondered if he ever listened back to tapes of the show for in-depth analysis.
"Oh no, I never go home and check what I've said. I never wish I'd said this or asked that. It would be impossible to do the job if I worried too much about every conversation."
Despite the growing competition, Piccadilly 1152 listening figures are as strong as ever, the James Stannage show in particular seems to attract the size of audience that others can only dream about. But the man himself is modest.
"We have a large catchment area, so I'm starting with a good base. Also, it's the quality of the callers who make the show what it is. Sure, some of them are a little strange, but that's the appeal - such a diverse collection of opinions."
In 1974, when Piccadilly Radio was born, James was employed as a general dogs body by the station bosses. He made tea for the presenters and acted as a stand-in whenever one was off sick or on holiday. Now, a machine makes the tea and Stannage has built himself a reputation in the business as a no-nonsense professional broadcaster. At the ripe old age of 46, this divorced father of two grown up boys has never been happier.
"Yeah, I'm having a great time. You see, really I'm just an old hippy, a flower child. I don't let life get me down. Everybody was the same in the sixties, we had 'peace' and 'free love' but there's not many of us left"
"Music back in the sixties was good, but my all time favourites are Steely Dan. If I have a couple of hours at home, I won't turn on the radio or TV, I'll listen to Steely Dan '72 and I think it's brilliant. But there's lots of good new stuff about as well."
Originally from Middlesborough, James is now a committed Mancunian. He says he loves the city and it's people. But one of the greatest attractions for the man who describes himself as fat and balding is Manchester's superiority in the sports department.
"One of the best things about the job I do is that I get to meet lots of people who I really admire; cricketers, footballers etc, and when you're as big a fan as I am, then talking sport on radio is like a dream come true."
Any dreams that haven't yet come true?
"I would love to have seen Steely Dan (hippy group) perform live. Also my ambition to act is as strong as ever. When I was eighteen I came to Manchester to study drama. I could go to the top - maybe playing the Godfather."
He follows this with his Brando impression (at least I think that's who it was, I didn't like to ask).
"I would love to have seen Steely Dan perform live. I would really have loved to see them in all their glory."
So it's peace, love, freedom and Steely Dan. As I left the Piccadilly 1152 studios I had a quick look around the car park expecting to see an old hippy van with psychedelic paintwork and a 'ban the bomb' logo, or maybe a 2Cv with flower pictures and a 'save the whale' sticker in the back window. But of course, I was wrong. This self confessed big mouth uses public transport to get to work. Yes, he's one of those - there's usually one on every bus.


NEWS FEATURE: HOSTEL CLOSURE.


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Jim's mum got upset when she saw him on the tv, so this time he's staying anonymous. "Don't take any pictures of my face. I don't want to be identified." Being a reluctant star isn't an easy life, but to Jim it is very important. If he gets his message across to enough people then they're bound to do something to help. Aren't they?
"I'm just a normal person. I've worked for years, paid my taxes and looked after myself and my family. But one day things started to go wrong." A succession of events in Jim's personal life has left him homeless and trying desperately to cope with the emotional fall-out that comes when your life falls apart.
At the Union Street Hostel in Ardwick, Manchester, Jim found a lifeline. Here he could get the help he needed to sort out his life. He was given advice on getting somewhere permanent to live again and he received professional, medical treatment for his emotional problems.
But now, all that is set to change. the City Council in their wisdom and the hostel's own management have decided to close the 30 bed Direct Access Hostel along with another in Moss Side. This will mean around 40 redundancies, a drastic reduction of the quality of service available to the most vulnerable single homeless men and women in Greater Manchester, and for Jim and others in his position, the removal of that link with society that provides hope and self-respect. The only real alternative for the 253 people who the Union Street Hostel accommodated last year, will be sleeping rough, bed and breakfast (a more expensive option than the hostel), or squatting.
"All the other hostels are full so before I found out about this place I was staying in a squat in Hulme" says Jim. "There was about twenty of us living in the condemned deck access flats. Somebody would re-connect the power supply so we would have electricity to use, it was dangerous but worth the risk."
As a last ditch attempt to save the hostel from closure, the staff have occupied the building and the court has given a 28 day stay of execution from the eviction order. A public campaign is putting pressure on the City Council whose withdrawal of funds is cited as the main reason for the closure. Meanwhile, the 5 - 10 people who turn up each day for accommodation are having to be turned away. Not the ideal situation for a hostel that was set up not just to offer people somewhere to stay but to give them a stable platform on which to rebuild their lives. Most of the people who stay at the Union Street Hostel have a drink, drug or mental health problem which makes survival on the outside even harder.
Jim is full of praise for the staff, but with a pessimistic sigh he says, "If it does close then everything I've worked for in the last few weeks will be lost, that can't happen. It's unthinkable."

NEWS FEATURE: RACIST ATTACK.


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In a week in which the Tory MP Winston Churchill made a speech about immigration and racial tension, one Manchester family were experiencing the problem first hand.
The council estate on which Paul and Gayle live with their three daughters has the same problems as other estates in Britain. High unemployment and youth crime means a life of fear for many residents who close the front door and determine not to 'get involved' in the goings on outside on the street. With little else to occupy them, young lads and girls often congregate outside the parade of shops close to Paul and Gayle's house and spend the evening drinking and shouting.
On Monday night Paul decided that enough was enough, the gang had been making so much noise that his youngest daughter could not get to sleep. She was frightened and kept asking her dad to 'tell the boys to be quiet'. Paul went outside and politely asked them to have some consideration for the residents.
"I only wanted them to quieten down a bit. I never said that they should go away or anything.
"One of them swore at me and then the rest joined in - laughing and swearing and telling me to go in before I got hurt."
Minutes later, after Paul had gone back into the house knowing that his request for consideration would be ignored, there was a knock at the front door. Fearing trouble he asked the caller's identity before he would open the door.
A voice replied, "open the door paki" and then they started to kick the door. Within seconds the glass in the door was smashed and the door was open. Unable to fight back Paul, who is disabled, was beaten and kicked and his wife was also assaulted. The gang fled leaving both Paul and Gayle lay on the floor and all the front windows of the house smashed. The children were screaming upstairs.
"During the attack the youths were shouting things like 'die paki' to me and 'paki lover' to Gayle. I thought we were both going to be killed. I could hear my girls screaming."
Despite the viscousness of the attack, both Paul and Gayle are united in their determination not to involve the Police as they believe this would only exacerbate the problem. As Paul explained.
"The last time we went into the Police station and told them about the lads shouting threats at us, the Police said that until we were attacked there was nothing they could do. Anyway, we'd only be attacked more for grassing"
Paul and Gayle are hoping that the council will soon move them out of their house which still has boards covering the broken windows. But they are under no illusions as to where they might end up.
"Unfortunately racism is everywhere." Says Paul. "Ever since me and Gayle got together we have had to put up with this. One day we will all learn to live together and not fight each other but with so much ignorance around I can't see it being soon."
As to the speech by Winston Churchill, Paul thinks that the MP has got it all wrong. "People like him stir up tensions that aren't there. It's easy for him to say that we're to blame for all the problems but he isn't being attacked by thugs. The country's in a mess because of his government but he isn't going to admit that, he'll just blame anyone but himself."
For Paul and Gayle, life must go on but they are worried by recent developments. "I fear for my family." Says Gayle. "The racists seem to be everywhere. Why can't they just realise that we've all got to live together and get on. If they get rid of all the black people who will they pick on next when they are still unemployed?"

BOOK REVIEW - HIDDEN HOLOCAUST by GUNTER GRAU.


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The persecution of Jews by the Nazis is well documented but what is less well known is that other smaller groups also suffered at the hands of the fascists. One such group was lesbians and gay men who faced re-education programmes, castration, electric shock therapy and ultimately the evils of the concentration camps.
Gunter Grau has used previously unpublished documents to tell the story of the Nazi treatment of lesbians and gay men and how the office for the 'combating of homosexuality and abortion' was used to try and eradicate homosexuality.
With unfortunate similarity to present day opinion amongst some sections of society, the Nazis tried to promote the virtues of 'the family' and 'motherhood' - which ultimately meant the eradication of 'abnormalities' such as homosexuality. Propaganda was used to turn public opinion against a section of society who until the Nazis came to power in 1933 were well established in German cities and even ran their own newspapers.
Stormtroopers were used in constant raids on gay bars and any material thought to promote homosexuality was removed from bookshops and libraries.
Hidden Holocaust not only provides the reader with a chilling insight into Nazi treatment of lesbians and gay men, but it is also a lesson on how lies and propaganda can be used to influence a frightened public.

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