Danny Baker (back row, second left) in the 3rd Year First XI at West Greenwich Secondary School. Front, second right, is his later punk cohort, Mark Perry, with whom he started the legendary punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue.
If you listen to Radio London during the day, you'll know that veteran DJ Danny Baker has recently departed his 3 o'clock slot (but can still be heard on Radio 5)*. Just a month before in October, he also brought out his autobiography, Going To Sea In A Sieve.
Danny grew up in Deptford and now lives in Blackheath. His early years were spent on the Silwood Estate in Rotherhithe in the now demolished Gillam House. But he was born on Crossfields in Congers House, and describes this on page 9 of his book...
"...After years of struggling to make any kind of progress with their lives, they [Baker's family] crossed the Thames – a huge upheaval in itself – to take up residence in a poky flat on the third floor of a pre-war block in downbeat Deptford called Congers House. It was here, in number 51, at 9am on Saturday 22 June 1957, that I was born. I was delivered by Nurse Walkerdene and my dad had to be summoned back from the pub as he was about to set off on a docker's beano – a boozy coach trip to Margate...
"At this point they had three children crammed into one bedroom. Consequently, when I was still a baby – indeed, because I was a very small baby – they were allocated a brand-new three-bedroom council flat on the ground floor of the Silwood Estate with a bathroom and a garden. They simply couldn't believe their luck..."
That's it for any more mention of Congers House, except on page 10 where he recalls that the family lived next door to a man called Jumbo Dray, who everyone called 'Jumb'. Congers House was subsequently refurbished.
Publisher's synopsis (provided by Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
"Born in 1957 in Deptford, south London, Danny's first job after dropping out of school at the age of 15 was in One Stop Records, a small record shop in London's West End, frequented by Elton John and Mick Jagger, a store rather like the one in High Fidelity. His career in print journalism began in 1976 when he co-founded the fanzine Sniffin' Glue leading to an offer from the New Musical Express, where his first job was as a receptionist. Soon after, Baker was contributing regular astute articles, reviews and later interviews to the publication.
"Danny then began making 30-minute documentaries at LWT for the cult series 20th Century Box, and appeared in two television commercials: Daz washing powder and Mars bar chocolate. His stellar career on the radio began on BBC GLR in 1989, then moved to BBC Radio 5 where he presented sports shows including the groundbreaking 6-0-6, which still influences the media's approach to criticism of players, managers and referees. He also worked on BBC Radio 1, back to BBC GLR, Talk Radio and later on Virgin Radio."
Baker joined BBC London 94.9 in 2001 presenting a Saturday show, then later the breakfast show. In 2005 he took over the weekday 3-5pm slot, featuring phone-ins and discussions with his on-air team regarding music and entertainment of the 1960s and 1970s*, and a Saturday morning show on Radio 5. "In May 2012, Danny won 'Sony Radio Personality of the Year' and appeared on Desert Island Discs. Six months earlier he had gone public on his cancer and chemotherapy treatment. This book charts Danny's showbiz career, the highs and lows, and everything in between, including the accusation that he killed Bob Marley..."
*The programme was axed in November 2012 as part of a programme of cuts at the station. Although due to continue its run until the end of the year, Baker announced on air on the day of the announcement that that day's show would be his last, branding his BBC London employers as "pinheaded weasels" for the way in which they cancelled the programme. (wikipedia.org)