Another One Of Those Days: Everett True’s July 2000 journal
Fresh from the archives of Tangents. This particular journal entry is written in a much more mundane style compared to others at the time: for all that, I think it might be more revealing. Just over a year after this was written, we started Careless Talk Costs Lives and thence Plan B Magazine.
Saturday July 1
Another of those days. Write 13 album reviews (count ’em – t-h-i-r-t-e-e-n reviews) for amazon and whoever else is passing, while C continues to set up her computer. At least Digitalis man’s wedding reception is in the evening – which kind of forces us to leave the house, and go and pay lip service at the King & Queen, where a really bad covers band is on stage the whole time we’re there.
Stop off in the Free Butt, officially the Hottest Place In Britain tonight, and listen to a few hip-hop types spinning discs for the usual ragbag of students. To celebrate, we invite some friends back to Hillcrest and spend an enjoyable 45 minutes spinning ska discs, discussing kung fu films and mixing increasingly potent cocktails out of my collection of worldwide found drinks.
Sunday July 2
Another of those days … it’s a Sunday. Halfway through, I chat with my ex Alison Withers who now lives with a Good Essex Sort who makes a bunch of money putting out decent records. I know it sounds odd, but there it is. In the evening, I balk at going to London as I’m suffering from inertia. Review Sonic Youth by proxy (and a timely e-mail from Jon, drunk in London). [It was a great review – Ed] The next day, receive a compliment from one editor who was present, and said I captured the mood exactly. Sigh. Watch The Simpsons instead. Because it’s another one of those days.
Monday July 3
After we see Dusty The Musical at the Theatre Royal, we’re both depressed. Not by the songs: Mari Wilson still has a fine smoky voice even if she can’t quite cope with the belters. The plot, though. It’s a middle-aged housewife obsessed by Dusty looking back on her life and missed opportunities, death etc. Whenever I witness art like that I’m going to start drifting and thinking of Kurt and my current situation, and why I’m still hiding hiding hiding. Neither of us sleep very well for wondering.
The trip to the theatre is very welcome, nonetheless. It’s just that right now I feel so trapped, and C does too, I shouldn’t wonder. Claustrophobic, aimless. Going nowhere. Seeing no one. Existing in a bubble of boredom. [I read these words now, in Brisbane, and shake my head with wonder – Ed]
Tuesday July 4
Another of those days … like Monday, I write a load of CD reviews during the day. I believe that this week I clear 35 – and still have 17 waiting for me when I return from Dublin the following weekend. If I get paid, I guess I’m doing fine … I guess. Send a few e-mails, too. People do reply when I write, but what can I tell them? I want a little glamour around my presence: glamour is the last thing I possess right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever recapture that mood again.
Wednesday July 5
To London, where [NME editor-in-chief] Steve Sutherland is still two parts enthusiasm, one part bullshit and five parts inspiration. Right at the start of our meeting about nme.com, he asks me whether I’m just one of those journalists who view the ‘Net as a fast way to make money writing reviews for a handful of sites. What am I supposed to say? It’s my life right now, but only because I don’t have another one. He has radical restructuring ideas for the NME site, which mainly centre around multi-media and the old stand-by interactivity, which also involve ‘Net TV and radio stations. Fine. He wants me to be their indie DJ. Fine. I can cope with that. He seems half the age of me right now, and good on him. Afterwards, another of those eternal, redundant Melody Maker cover meetings to discuss the forthcoming Oasis show. Sigh. I know they mean well … A brief glass of water or two with Ruth Dodson and photographer Patrick in the new yuppie bar next door, then over to Clerkenwell – which’ll always stand out in my memory for two main reasons. First, it was where the offices of pre-Knockabout and Escape magazine Pssst was situated, and a few parties were held. I didn’t travel up to the centre so often those days as to be jaded to my situation. Second (minor), I believe Creation might have been situated round there. Anyway. Nick at Hobomedia seems enthusiastic. Wants to pay based on effort involved, not word count – fuck me, an editor who understands! He won’t last long. Not much to look at in his office, but the bar where I drink tea has giant photos of Brighton-esque Mods on the walls. London round these parts takes on a slightly surreal dreamy quality: not as hectic, but still crowded and dirty. Eternally stuck in a time-warp circa 1980. Back early, and spend the evening writing e-mails to folk.
Thursday July 6
To London again. I review the singles with 50s throwback Mark Lamarr in the conference room next to MM in King’s Reach Tower. (When was the last time they vacuumed those carpets?) He spends too long on the phone downstairs, however, which means we have about 25 minutes to complete those, a mini-interview and a couple of other items of interest, too. A crap crop of records. Absolutely.
Finding myself in the centre with time to spare – commence drinking with Lucy Scott-Harris and then the new Staff Writer, a 23-year-old from Sunderland. Can’t remember her name, but pointed out to her that we could come to an advantageous deal whereby she supplies me with the transcripts of her Maker interviews (after article is written) and then rewrite and sell them on to a variety of places, for a cut. Could work. Depends whether she gets cold feet or not. Anyway, three pints there emboldens me sufficiently to phone Rich Jensen, a little tearful because he sounds so full of life and I know that I would be too if I was back at The Stranger, or somewhere else fun. Talk of cats, and Modest Mouse, and futures. A party invite for another music web site place is procured, and so we knock back champagne and whisky in very large quantities in salubrious surrounds … I say hi to Kevin Shields, try to convince him to accompany me to the Mouse, doesn’t, but he updates me as to the movements of old dancing partner Geoff “The Postman” Stoddart, none of the details of which I remember the following day. Sigh. Speak to Dick Green, congratulate him on Wichita. Speak to that guy promoter Steve, who is at every damn after-show and party I’ve ever been to (certainly in the last couple of years, including Melbourne and probably Seattle). Whirl around madly for a few seconds, then catch a cab to the Garage where I rush backstage to congratulate Isaac and the boys, and stand around at the show – maybe speak to Simon Williams and Rob amazon – and let the tunes swirl round my head some more, before departing extremely drunk and missing my train by minutes (not that I noticed) and falling asleep drunk on the train, head on seat, to bed in Brighton. Finally.
Friday July 7
Of course, the next day is an utter write-off. Fortunately, I’m still able to write up the singles, and that’s about it. In the evening, the very lovely people at Komedia believe my bullshit about writing for The Times, and so we get to see Autoboosh for free. The lads are a little more self-indulgent [than at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival a few months before, where I was a judge – Ed] and not finished this time round, but still perplexingly strange and warm enough for us to still feel we should be there, not elsewhere, even if we both are tired.
Saturday July 8
… so I’m stuck high up in the rafters at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road international football ground, freezing my fucking fingers off, chatting to Dave Simpson about the stupidity of editors and the rise and rise of PRs in the music business industry (why, some of them even are my editors now) and how it’s impossible to do anything for the London-centric media if you’re not based with the rest of the aristocracy there … and all I can think of is home, is of seeing Supergrass in Melbourne, everyone all excited and it’s cosy and warm, the night lights twinkling even though we barely knew anyone and even though it’s nice that everyone starts singing along with ‘Moving’ as we take our 30 minute trek round the stadium along the river’s edge because the police and organisers are plainly incompetent, there is no escaping these grey skies, there really aren’t, and I would rather be anywhere than here today… and I’m stuck up in the rafters, watching this rock’n’roll band called Oasis act like they could give a fuck, and all the kids are singing along so loudly and proudly and with no cynicism whatsoever to ‘Stand By Me’ and the wonderful ‘Look Back In Anger’, it’s all I can do to stop myself from wondering what time bed is and whether there might be food somewhere at the end of the rainbow and how is it OK for Terry Hall to treat me like shit despite the fact she’s known me for so long professionally (or is it just an indication of how far down the ladder I’ve slipped)… the show’s great, as I tell five different websites and MM the following couple of days, but who gives a fuck about that I just want to pull the covers over my head and slide away, never to think about anything again… the after-show is faintly ridiculous, the man from The Sun recognises my name and someone buys someone a drink, we talk to a couple of kids with strong Dublin accents and the sky is still absolutely crap … afterwards I wander the streets with a lady from a website and a MM photographer and I wonder how I could have lowered my standards so much to be in this position, maybe I should fucking DRINK DRINK DRINK and fuck shit up but I don’t have the energy any more … maybe the energy, but not the inclination, also I can’t be bothered to waste my talents on fucking nobodies … the show was fine, honest. It’s almost as good as the expensive Indian curry we eventually tracked down.
Sunday July 9
No, I didn’t bother writing my report before retiring. Arrogantly, I assumed I didn’t need to – something I regretted the following day, especially when I dropped my laptop computer onto the wet tarmac trying to board the plane. Sigh. The batteries ran out minutes after boarding, and the journey back to IPC was faintly ridiculous – the dumb-ass journalists (actually, James Oldham from NME seemed quite nice) deciding to catch the fast train then a taxi to King’s Reach. Net result, I’m 15 quid poorer and we get there possibly five minutes earlier. Cause MM great consternation over my Vox Pops. Good. Maybe they won’t EVER ask me to speak to ‘The Kids’ again. Review is finally written in the very inspirational surroundings of King’s Reach Tower. The journey back to Brighton seems to take forever.
Monday July 10
Unbelievable. It still takes me another full day to recover from something as trivial as that. God, I seriously must have fucked myself up, drinking all those years. Someone please give me my life back. In the evening we take in some Italian opera (La Boheme), courtesy of Samantha at the Theatre Royal. My first exposure to opera isn’t as intimidating as I’d been expecting – although you don’t get the intricate details, the broad sweep of the story is quite apparent, and the comedy scenes are really quite funny. Plus, one character looked a lot like Stephen Sweet if you glinted and squinted and blinked a lot. C’s favourite moment is at the show’s end, walking out on the street, some budding Hooray Henry mimicking the voice of the male star bewailing his lover on her deathbed. (The next day, she rescinded. Said she enjoyed it more in retrospect.) Walked through grey, rain-soaked streets to find a pub where Fat Ian was enjoying a handful of birthday drinks and regaling the assembled company of rogues and scary tattooed ladies about how his fishing trip earlier in the day had been a complete wash out. Caught one tiddler, drank a bottle of vodka. The pub is too boomy and I can barely hear a word. Still. It’s nice to be out again. And a full day’s expedition to look forward to …
Tuesday July 11
Five reasons to go see the Millennium Dome before its untimely and obvious demise.
1) The press doesn’t want you to. This is always the most important reason to do anything in London. If the self-centred, arrogant, dull media think something is boring or wrong it invariably means that it isn’t merely that (a) there aren’t enough freebies involved, and (b) people from up North might like it. (Usually the media can ignore the fact there’s an up North altogether. Not when the Dome is transparently so popular with the common herd.) We like the Dome. It’s an outlandish and monstrous carbunkle, complete waste of public and private money … but hell there are any number of aspects of modern-day life which are far worse offenders. It’s easy to reach, it promotes public transport, it glows in the dark. It has an awful New Age Peter Gabriel centrepiece and a truly dire Blackadder time travel film, but I never said it doesn’t have imperfections. The branding of the sponsor’s names everywhere is so blatant, it nearly becomes high art – or what passes for same in England 2000. The Dome is basically EuroDisney for people who still like to exercise their own limbs, and sing along with gay Welsh male choirs at Australian Football League games. It’s unashamed fun and should have a place named after it NOW (like Crystal Palace.) Among many and varied highlights are:
2) The Self-Portrait Exhibit, which contains some of the nastiest, most vituperative and scaly sculptures it has ever been my pleasure to witness. How British! Right in the heart of an exhibit of images celebrating everything grand about Britain 2000 (The Spice Girls, cups of tea, football, deck chairs, Lidos, Tony Benn, multi-ethnic DJs) are a handful of Ronald Searle pieces celebrating everything dark and seedy about Britain 2000 (racism, corrupt judges, corrupt MPs, sloth, indolence, TV culture). For several minutes, I was somewhat proud to be from this country. Really.
3) The Living Island, which preaches green politics in the heart of atrocious, unforgivable waste. (The building itself which one assumes isn’t bio-degradable when it eventually gets torn down; the lack of recycling facilities for the crowds; the lack of drinking fountains, etc etc.) Seaside attractions and games preach how to be green, but in a fun, childish way. (Who cares the motives behind whoever sponsored this. What matters is whether it’s fun or not.) Like, there was some ridiculous statistic about the amount of water wasted in dish-washers. This I kind of knew all along, but it’s good to see others noticing the fact too.
4) The much-trumpeted Body is a minor letdown. No queues, just loads of happy people, a walk through some intestines and eyeballs courtesy of those lovely people at Boots The Chemist … all that was lacking was a little imagination. Journey, on the other hand, had tons of futuristic designs for trainers and cars and Heathrow Terminal Fives that even the most grown-up and earnest of us couldn’t resist. Just as well we visited it towards the end of our eight hours, when the place had completely thinned out of boisterous children and tired-looking teachers.
5) Outside, you can see the Thames. Unrecognisable, but still one of the greatest rivers in the Western world. We didn’t swim, but we did race round the Spiral Of Invention, pressing every speaker button we could find. The topmost Invention was some sort of New Age colostomy bag that indicates a subtle sense of humour, if nothing else.
6) The Man In A Suit With A Stuffed Duck Under His Arm. If you happened to glance his way, he held up a small sign that said “Quack”. This was – notwithstanding such delights as a journey around the miracle they call “human life” on Planet Earth and over-priced pasta and taking part in a 22-a-side table football match – our favourite exhibit of the day. We departed, foot-sore and considerably poorer (admission charges are outrageous) for Brighton in the deepening dusk. It’s a grand day out, in the tradition of Wallace & Gromit, to be sure.
Wednesday July 12
My sleep is disturbed again upon receiving two items of writing in the post. One is physical, a new book by John Robb on the 90s (What The Fuck Happened?!). This depresses me because John is so overtly boastful and ridiculously so in the introduction, talking about rock’n’roll like it’s a war zone. Is that what I was like? Maybe I’m just unhappy because he’s still alert of full of energy and I feel the opposite. I like the fast pace, the fact some chapters he clearly dreamt up and wrote in under 20 minutes, and the fact it’s brilliantly inconclusive. Like life. The other item is electronic, an e-mail forwarded by Mr David Stubbs detailing a Have I Got News For You out-take, featuring Sir Jimmy Saville in the villain’s role.
Thursday July 13
I have this evening marked down as a Free Butt DJ night, but that never happened. I don’t know if it’s because Will has realised I’m (a) no longer famous, (b) bring no one extra with me, or (c) not very good at DJ-ing, but I haven’t DJ-ed there for a month now. Sigh. It seemed like fun, too. The reason probably isn’t that sinister. It’s almost certainly (d) he’s unintentionally letting it slide. Tonight, for example, the band booked were supplying their own DJ. Sigh. I have nothing down for this day: I can only imagine that I passed it the usual way – by playing Minesweeper for several hours and in a desperate fit of remorse, writing a handful of CD reviews. What excitement.
It was around this time, I stumble across an old interview with Chan Marshall (Cat Power) on the ‘net. In it, she talks about the first time she met me (at that communist squat in Spain) in fine detail, even down to the fact I was wearing on black leather glove when I first shook her hand. Both Charlotte and Jon (begrudgingly) think it indicates she has a crush on me – ha! I can’t resist mentioning the fact to Jon several times over the next few days, especially considering (a) he’s the good-looking one out of us, and (b) he has a crush on Chan. [I reprised this interview for the Plan B cover story I did with Chan, much to many people’s annoyance. On reflection, I don’t blame them for being annoyed – Ed]
Friday July 14
Charlotte drives a hire car all the way to Ford Motors in Essex. We’re expecting to buy a new Ford Ka there, utilising her grandfather’s special Ford discount privilege. Instead, we’re given the run around by a slimy smarm of a salesman who thinks he has it in the bag by the very fact we’ve driven all that way to see him. He ridicules the price C has been told to expect (by Ford themselves) and tells an outright lie by saying it’s too low. Stupid slime. Afterwards, we visit C’s parents. As ever, I’m awed by the sheer size of their kitchen.
The night is spent at my sister’s house, myself first taking the wise precaution of obtaining a couple of extra cushions in case our guest bed is still too small and soft. It is, and I pass a reasonable night on the floor. Oh, finally I see the Everett True 1927 collection that I bought on the Internet before Christmas. It looks great, and finally inspires me to come up with the comic strip idea I’ve been looking for, ever since hooking up with Peter (Bagge) in Seattle. The Modern-Day Outbursts Of Everett True… do I need to explain more? The character must be out of copyright by now. Simplicity itself, and the idea had been staring me in the face for years now. Eric (Reynolds) has already agreed to draw the strip for me.
All we need now are some takers. Three magazines, and we’d be sitting pretty on a little nest-egg that could eventually be reprinted in book form and hopefully gain cult credibility. I must know three cool editors, surely.
Saturday July 15
This is a depressing day, family reunion.
Sunday July 16
Garden centres always feature in bad jokes about suburbia and men travelling along timeworn paths from cradle to grave. Guess where we went today? Still, it broke up an afternoon spent writing a Coldplay biog for music3w [Jesus! – Ed] – bastards still didn’t pay me on time! – and a day that otherwise would have been indistinguishable from a hundred others since our return. Sigh. Once more, I miss Melbourne. If nothing else, we could always wander the city streets. That always cheered me slightly.
Monday July 17
In my far-off dreams, every day is like this.
My builder makes me get out of bed early. This means I can enjoy the day writing a Royal Trux biog for music3w – the bastards haven’t paid me on time for that either! – and enjoy a day that is (shudder) sunny. Possibly.
In the afternoon, I decide that I should finally buy that iMac I’ve been promising myself ever since my return to this miserable, misbegotten country. Of course, I have to buy several accessories too – a CD burner, a floppy disc drive, a Zip Drive (later exchanged for a groovy colour printer). Date of delivery is Wednesday, amazingly. (Later several problems transpire which mean that even two weeks later I still don’t have the floppy disc drive and can’t transfer any files because my CD-Rom is knackered in my laptop. But that’s enough boring mechanical stuff.) Writing a cheque for £1700 is always quite enervating.
In the evening, I meet Andrew Mueller in the West End and go for a very reasonably-priced pasta meal near Soho Square while we both whinge and gripe about soulless editors and editors who don’t understand and can’t do their jobs, and editors who are bloody useless. It’s good to see the old feller again: life seems to be one long series of finding people who can relate to the situation you’re in, and Andrew can relate. I guess. Having moved the other way across from Melbourne. (Hold on. I haven’t actually moved anywhere. Sigh.)
The Go-Betweens at the Kashmir are as… I don’t know. Mind if I talk about nostalgia here. The reason the new Go-Betweens album is so wonderful – and it is – is that it manages to recapture the spirit of their second and third records. Stripped-back, Grant and Robert are aware of their situations with a bitter sweetness that is a delight to hear, with incredible riffs carefully played for our enjoyment. There are intelligent, thoughtful and funny lyrics. But I doubt whether I would love it so much – and I do – if it didn’t precisely recall a feeling I used to feel in the 80s. I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong.
Live, the duo are as reserved and magical as you’d want. (I wanted them to have a full band accompaniment actually, with Sam from Quasi and half of Sleater-Kinney, but maybe I’m greedy. Also, I would have preferred a show that wasn’t in front of the London music media. Sigh. My life is in a bubble and I can’t break free of the suffocating fumes.) Robert introduces every song with a laconic aside, and no one cheers when he says Elliott Smith isn’t on the record. Apart from me, that is. And I wasn’t even too drunk. There’s a final song from Robert’s solo album that talks about dead friends, and – hey, guess what? – hearing The Go-Betweens makes me want to be in Melbourne again. Great album, though. Serious. My enjoyment is increased through meeting a handful of old Maker bods – Stubbs, Lester hamming it up as ever – and afterwards, bumping into the former Paul Platypus, a friend I haven’t seen for over 15 years.
He says that he’s been reading of my whereabouts via Tangents and momentarily makes me feel like I do exist. Somewhere.
Tuesday July 18
Re-hash my Melbourne interview with Mick from Supergrass for local magazine The Latest. It takes me 20 minutes and earns me £60, so I suppose that’s fair. (I agreed to do it, because I want the magazine to give me a column where I can write about theatre. Otherwise, Samantha might well stop letting us in free whenever we like. A year later, and the magazine still hasn’t paid me – absolute fucking wankers.) There’s an annoying set-to with my insurers at Nationwide, after Network Professionals advise me that any damage caused to my laptop computer should be covered. Nationwide disagrees and brutally decides not to even send me a claims form: this bothers me somewhat. In the afternoon, Jon paints the bathroom and does a reasonable job. Charlotte decides not to apply for the Tunbridge Wells council job.
Wednesday July 19
My iMac is delivered, and it’s a wonderfully sunny day (as are the following days) so to celebrate I decide to waste £70 in the arcade plating a Simpsons fruit machine that I can’t figure out. Sigh. At least I walked out of there with £20 in my pocket, and lost so fast I didn’t have time to become too depressed. It’s one of those days.
We see Passport To Pimlico at the Theatre Royal in the evening. It’s a rather bad stage adaptation of the old Ealing comedy starring an impotent Ian Lavender and Kate O’Mara. Lavender, of course, played Private Pike (“stupid boy”) in Dad’s Army and is enough of a reason never to venture near the theatre. O’Mara tried hard enough, but couldn’t save the lacklustre script and deflating feeling of playing to a half-empty house. It’s a post war-time spoof about how an unexploded bomb in the venerated London district leads to all sort of immigration problems … ah, go see the film if you’re that interested. I’m told it’s actually not bad at all.
Thursday July 20
Nothing happens. C’s application to go on MBA training is turned down by some slime at the council who actually bucked the system to go on it himself. C also calls up several Ford dealers and discovers that the odious creep in Essex was indeed lying when he said he couldn’t go any lower on the Ford Ka price. Dave Bennun comes round in the late afternoon, excited by the prospect of helping to set up my new iMac. We’re soon thwarted, however, by the lack of software accompanying the shop-opened hardware. Dave is a puzzle to me: I’ve never figured out either his personality or how he makes a living beyond knowing that he writes wry, amusing articles for men’s magazines and The Guardian Guide. Oh. I guess that is a living. Right?
Friday July 21
The day is a wash out, not surprisingly.
The evening is fine: old flatmate Jamie Sellers turns up at Brighton station and the three of us go for a Caribbean meal along Queens Road. The place is far too noisy, but the food – particularly the fish – is fine. For once, I enjoy eating out. We chat about music, comics, football, travel, computers, jobs – J works for a company that supplies amazon.co.uk among others with their raw data, and reviews DVDs all day. I’m startled and not a little gratified to find a friend who is actually interested and not ashamed to admit it in the same stuff as me. Now I remember what it’s like having people I can relate to. Afterwards, in the pub, we continue talking – mostly about our mutual lack of creativity. This is the first time in 18 years or so that Jamie hasn’t been in a band. He wants to move down to Brighton with Jackie, and hell I’d like that. A few more people like Jamie around and I’m sure I wouldn’t feel quite so alienated. No wonder we shared a house for so many years … although it occurs to me now that I was probably quite domineering, like with Jon, and that’d be why my best friends eventually fall out with me. Continue drinking back at Princes Rd, some surprisingly potent cocktail. J says odd thing when we get back: “Where’s the music?”
Saturday July 22
This is a great, old-fashioned day in Brighton. I spend it wandering around the North Lanes with two people who are interested in the same stuff as me – Jamie more, obviously. In and out of comics shops, s/h stores, book stores, teashops (where we share a cup of Cha with Jon looking astonishingly hungover). C buys several videos for my belated birthday present – the second and third series of Reggie Perrin, that film I saw just before leaving Seattle which reminded me so poignantly of my situation, Metroland, also an Almodovar. I buy a couple of old superhero reprint compendiums – X-Men, both old and new. I have nothing to say about those, except that life seems to be a constant search wherein one tries to recapture a feeling when it was worth feeling. C falls down in the road: fortunately no bus is coming. C puts up some Melbourne photos on the wall – Flinders St station, the ‘Batman’ building, the weird Planet Of The Apes-style library sculpture, a mid-town tram – and they look great. Even is I do feel that my life is being reduced to a series of neatly compartmentalised lists. J buys one of my old Dansettes for 10 quid and departs.
We spend the evening watching Friday night TV. Indeed, sometimes I think that TV is the only chance for our mutual happiness, but perhaps that’s just because we watch so little of it.
Sunday July 23
My life isn’t exactly glamorous nowadays, is it? Although why there should be anything remotely sexy about drinking loads, hanging with great bands, flirting with women (and men) and waking up feeling turned inside out, only to do the whole thing again the following day, I don’t know.
Today, for example, I didn’t drink.
Oh hell. We went to a car boot fair, and I bought a couple of crap records and a Have I Got News For You book for 20p. We walked round to C’s sister Vic’s afterwards and gazed at her baby Joseph who is now crawling everyone and not drooling quite as much as I remember. Both are bonuses to the proud mother, I’m sure. Vic drove us over to Ford Motors, where the salesman there blushed bright red and kept repeating the phrase “How does it feel to beat a car salesman up?” over and over again in response to the low price C had managed to obtain. Back to Princes Rd with Joseph. I fell asleep on the sofa while C painted the bench (green, with the arms silver). In the evening, we saw MI2 starring Tom Cruise. It was as ridiculous and action-packed and unbelievable as we could have hoped. That’s right. I didn’t drink today, either.
Forgive me if I sound harsh. Aren’t memories made of this?
Monday July 24
This is a crap day. Another Monday, another week to try and struggle through … and what for? It’s not like I’m actively looking forward to the weekend. I would imagine that the majority of it was spent playing Minesweeper on my new iMac – and I know I e-mailed all my friendly PRs to inform them of how I’m wasting my life by doing loads of crappy reviews of meaningless CDs for dull websites. Um, sorry. Scratch all the pejoratives in the above sentence. Of course, I’m very honoured to be given the opportunity to work for such interesting places … and, as many people have reminded me, it’s certainly better than getting on a tube in London during rush hour and working 9-5. Although quite why anyone would want to do such a moronic thing is beyond me. [I lost most of my work writing for websites shortly after these journal entries appeared online. I have no idea why – Ed]
(Every word I type I can feel my glamour escaping inch by inch. Soon I will be less than zero.)
Ian Gittins phones to point out that my book really should be flying his way now. Indeed, he requires the cover artwork in the next couple of weeks. Sigh. Sooner or later I will gear myself up for this task – who knows, I might even enjoy it. Grunge, The Everett True Years. The story that absolutely no one is interested in.
After Jamie’s visit, resolve to tidy up the spare room with all the CDs and comics. I also resolve to start rising earlier, and leaving the house before 10 am. It’s the lack of structure – ANYTHING – which are making these weeks seem so long.
I sell another Coldplay interview on, this time a Q/A to amazon.co.uk. This, frankly, is pushing it even for me, but fuck. I might as well make some cash. In the evening, we see the extremely fine The Browning Version starring Edward Fox at the Theatre Royal. It’s great. A fine tale, humorous tale on manners of impotence, set in an English public school in the early 20th Century, Fox playing the part of a fully reserved schoolteacher alarmingly reminiscent of my father. There are moments we almost cry at the cruelty of it all. I’m also impressed at how little public schools have evidently changed from then to my school years. We take intermission in the room with all the 1920 film posters on the walls, and afterwards return for a rather brazen, light-hearted 25-minute sketch by Barrie (of Peter Pan fame) that considerably lifts the mood.
Oh, one more thing. We’re having milk delivered now. Two pints a day. Skimmed.
Tuesday July 25
Today is an improvement. I guess.
I don’t go back to sleep after C leaves for work, but am down the market (where I spend 14 quid on some lovely-looking fish) and Jessops and Nationwide and back inside by 10.30am. It’s a beautiful morning, too. Unfortunately, I then play Minesweeper for a couple of hours, but things pick up when I start reading my X-Men comics…
Hey, how sad is this, when I consider even the basest of acts like reading my comics compendium an improvement?
In the late afternoon, I hurriedly put together a Coldplay interview for amazon. It has all of my heart and soul in it, of course. No, really. [Jesus! – Ed]
Wednesday July 26
… and so I find myself drinking cheap industrial-strength red wine by the bottle on Brighton beach with Jon and that boy who helps run Melting Vinyl promotions in town and a drunken obnoxious Japanese friend of Jon’s and one other that I cannot name … and I’m boasting about Seattle exploits and Melbourne exploits and how much I despise and loath this country with a crimson clarity … and it seems that once more I’m living, once more I have glamour around me even if it is only the cheapest of cheap glamour, purchased for three quid in an all-night off-licence … and I wander off to piss under the pier, and others wander off to piss there too … and I’m remembering the evening, how Maslam (the local hopefuls who one person had compared with PJ Harvey) were so dreary and meandering, the girl probably possessing an interesting voice but she had laryngitis, and the rest of her band are certainly art-school wankers … and I’m remembering the evening, at how I needed to drink beer and chat with Anna, the other half of Melting Vinyl promotions, and also the small one from Ninetynine, the Melbourne band who so deliciously reminded me of all my cherished Northwest bands while I was in Australia and dispossessed … and Ninetynine sounded so brutally alive, the xylophone sparking sounds of fury and that boy with the crazy hair leaping up and leaping down and singing in ridiculous falsetto like I remembered … and later me and Jon fought in the streets of Brighton, walking back from Andru’s flat in the later wee hours of the morning, all emboldened by the knowledge that at least we were having experiences that were unique to us and millions of other drunkard s… and all evening I was as cruel as I could be, because that is the only defence … the concert made me want to race round town, trumpet my art from every roof and rafter, even when we were briefly queuing outside the Pavilion Tavern before we all came to our senses and realised that perhaps House music isn’t what we were looking for to keep our senses heightened …
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It made me want to slip, retrace my steps, recapture that elusive feeling which I seem to be disallowed to feel nowadays … even the day was good. I rose early. I bought Melody Maker, as embarrassing as ever, I paid cheques into Nationwide, I read comics. I started sorting through the spare room, as promised, with Jon’s help. I even did a fast phone interview with a very tired Kathryn Williams, just nominated for the Mercury Music Award. The Newcastle-based singer said one great thing, about how when she was originally asked how it felt to be included among the nominees she replied that “she was extremely happy”, but that after 14 hours of continuous interviews she just wants a big hug and to go to bed.
It was the best of days. It was the worst of days.
Thursday July 27
Of course, after all that, Thursday is a write-off. So much so, that shivering with nausea and sweat, I find myself unable to meet up with Theatre Royal PR Samantha for our pre-arranged lunch, and leave it too late to warn her. So I hope I haven’t buggered up our arrangement. A phone call from Lester to my deathbed at 2pm, commissioning some Uncut reviews in a very patronising manner, wakes me up in enough time so I just catch Martin James in Borders. That’s nice. The fellow gives me another editor’s e-mail address, brags about his present-day situation as Managing Editor of five titles (I don’t blame his slight boastfulness, incidentally) and says he’s gotta run … attend to his family. Good sort. Oh, and he also mentions a syndication company he’s setting up, selling on interviews to 25 web sites worldwide. Sounds very good indeed. I already had a similar idea, not that I’d ever act on it.
Buy Maxim, my favourite men’s magazine. (The American version, of course. The British one is inexcusably sexist and homophobic, and dull – even for men’s magazines. Only Front is worse.) Later, C remarks upon how the girls look gross in PVC on cover. She complains that pictures of girls in PVC seem to be everywhere in Hillcrest right now. I wish. Two points – (a) it’s not PVC they’re wearing on the cover of Maxim, it’s leather and (b) it certainly doesn’t look gross.
Late in the evening, we see Steven Berkoff’s Graft which is a very fine one-man play. This is true, despite the fact it (i) dragged on for far too long (it overran by half-an-hour), (ii) had a rather obvious downbeat ending which unbalanced the whole play too much, and (iii) was another damn play about actors. The actor was superb, his levels of energy alone. Made us feel tired and even started us yawning, anyway.
Friday July 28
It was another good morning. I didn’t sleep very well, but still rose upon C’s departure for work and mucked straight into sorting out my CDs in the spare room for a surprising length of time. I was there for over three hours, and thought it was one. Elsewhere, I scrabbled together another Coldplay interview (for playlouder.com) and interviewed some very affable fellow from Fun Lovin’ Criminals on the phone, our chat spoilt only by the fact I could only hear every other word. I don’t go up to see Sleater-Kinney in London as part of an agreement with Charlotte. It means I can go see them in Brighton on Sunday with Jon (who actually goes down there without me). The compromises we make.
Saturday July 29
The following nine days are suffused with a sense of foreboding: Mr Gittins is becoming increasingly worried about Live Through This [My first ‘proper’ book, now unavailable from anywhere – Ed], although he is never less than nice about it. Plus, I have over 40 albums to review. Plus, I need to sort out all my missing freelance payments, and do something about the piles upon piles of books on the living room floor. And initially I do nothing. Sigh. Instead, I wake on Saturday morning and immediately write a pleading letter to Tim Keck (The Stranger/Onion publisher) asking him to take me back to America. Please, doesn’t someone over there have something they could throw my way … a morsel? Maybe it was speaking to Nicolle and Steve and Steve’s girlfriend and Portland Mercury lady Julianne on the ‘phone which reminded me of how far I’ve strayed. I opened an old Stranger and discovered a lecture I’d written on how “I could so easily be writing advertising copy for the web” … ah, how the mighty have fallen.
There’s a Gay Pride march in the centre of town (which we miss): that makes me happy. It reminds me of Seattle. By the time we go out, there’s just time to buy a Sun Millennial Headlines (similar to The Onion, oddly) book, a Peanuts 50th Anniversary Book and a sarcastic English travel book/rip-off of whatisname Bryson. These all make me happy, as does my ability to still write semi-decent live reviews (of Ninetynine) and continue working, even though my dullest hours.
The evening is enlivened by X-Files (once more). There’s also a program about 1971 featuring the Banana Splits and spacehoppers. I’ve never watched X-Files before, but I love their copious use of shadow and light. Oh, and for the characters’ ridiculous, dated interaction.
Sunday July 30
Finally write my journal. That takes some doing. All morning, in fact. You know how much effort I’m taking, writing up details of my supremely uninteresting life? (I checked some of my old e-mails from a couple of years ago – the escapades! The thrills! It’s no wonder no one bothers replying to any of my e-mails now.) In the afternoon, we take a stroll down to Brighton Pavilion in the brilliant sun, so we can check out one of the proposed sites for our forthcoming nuptials. (Some time this decade.) It charges local residents too much during the summer, so instead we admire all the useless and insipid promenading on the pier, like their lives have some relevance aside from helping to make a privileged few happy and rich. There are bank machines in the arcades now, and no deck chairs because there’s no room for deck chairs. The donuts are still as sugary, and C spills a whole load down her front, making for sticky excavation. Our rambling takes us as far as the Odeon, where the new Nick Parks cartoon film Chicken Run is starting shortly – again, we miss the adverts. Sigh. The movie’s OK but lacking any strong central character, and also off to a slow start. Of course, we appreciate the use of English regional accents in an American film. And, of course, we like the Cockney rats. On the bus back, we espy Jon on his way back from London, going the wrong way – ie: to the Pavilion, not to Hillcrest which means I have to pluck up the courage to go there myself.
Sarah Kestle is at the Sleater-Kinney show. That’s unusual. The only time she makes any impression on me is after she’s left, and me and Jon and Leigh and Leigh’s squeeze are on the beach long afterwards knocking back gin and beer. Jon remarks that Sarah was pissed off, cos I intruded when she was about to speak to Mary Timony … like DELETED. It’s not my fault I’m memorable. Jon’s in love, of course (with M), so the two of us break ranks and go searching for her and Carrie Brownstein backstage after the show and swipe chocolate and BEER. And hold court, too. The show is fine, mostly notable for the way I order two beers, then two beers and a whisky, then swig from my 90% proof liquor bottle, then drink more. A lad from Portsmouth exchanges pleasantries, as does Scots Lorna (me main man Bagge’s e-mail pal). Timony is dull, the place is sweaty, and Sleater-Kinney are super-fine but don’t connect with me the way they did both times in Seattle (and even in London) perhaps because I’m old and decrepit. There’s little to report on the beach scene: I’m tired and leave early. A grand night, anyway.
Monday July 31
Another Monday bites the dust. I watch Leonard Rossiter’s Reggie Perrin. (It seems very appropriate right now.) I read Hunt Emerson’s compilation of foul-mouthed feline funnies Firkin. (It seems very funny right now: as funny as ever.) I shop at Sainsbury’s, Lewis Road. (It’s easier to buy fruit there right now.) I speak to Jon a little. (He seems quite the lad right now.) I discover e-Bay. (It provides a welcome diversion right now.) [Soon to rule my life for several years – Ed] Basically, I do everything but WRITE! Damn it all.