31 January, 2007
Very. Tired. Today. And my nice lunch with Rachel got cancelled. Well, rearranged. I was very disappointed. I'd even shaved. Knew the good luck bubble would burst. Then found myself having to cancel a lunch of my own with my spiritual sister, Maureen Rice. We've only been trying to organise this for a year now, thought we'd finally cracked it with a date next week. Now that's gone because someone else wants me in for a meeting the same day About Some Work, and when they put it like that I'm too desperate for the dough to say no.
Instead, spent the day putting the bones of a Who feature together that I'm writing for the Planet Rock website. Mark Jeeves, reigning King of Rock DJs, is putting together a documentary on the Live At Leeds album - full of really good stuff, from what I've heard, including a new interview with Pete Townshend - and I'm writing a kind of background feature to it for the site. Or supposed to be. I got to about 4.30pm and found myself drooping, physically and mentally. It's that late night I did on Monday finally catching up with me. That's what happens at my prematurely grey age. You think you're kicking ass just like the bad old days until suddenly, it's your ass that feels like it's being kicked. Then have a feel and realise it is.
Got a nice email from Cookie Vance just now though, wishing me luck for the new Planet Rock show on Saturday. This means a lot as she and I both know that if her old man was still around I wouldn't even get a look-in. It also means a lot because Cookie is one of the few people out there who actually knows the difference between a good rock show and a bad one. God, I hope she's not listening at the weekend...
30 January, 2007
After the fall... the resurrection. That is, today was a better day than yesterday. A better day, in fact, than quite a few yesterdays. Which is odd as I didn't finish work on the Ronnie Wood opus until 2.00a.m. so really shoulda bin fucked all day today. Instead, things just kept going and going. Maybe it's the Earl Grey or maybe it's the weather, sunny and not too cold, the park when I walked the dog this morning totally deserted, just the way I like it. Whatever it is things just went... well today. Someone call a cop.
Did a phone interview in the morning with the Press Association about the new Planet Rock show, a thing called Me and My Car. Renamed for me especially Me and My Jalopy. Nice guy doing the piece - Roger. I hope I come across as easy as Roger does when I interview people. Asked me stuff like who my ideal car passenger would be - Jeremy Clarkson. What the ideal car driving music would be - Jeremy Clarkson-type rock. And what the most dangerous thing I ever did in a car was - couldn't tell him that obviously, so told him instead about following Status Quo around on the road when I was ghosting Francis' and Rick's joint-autobiography a few years back, map on steering wheel, hot coffee in left hand, melting phone in right, steering with my knees as I looked for legendary rock'n'roll venues like the one they played at the end of a foggy pier in Folkstone - a nightmare to get to that they cancelled at the last minute anyway. I ended that tour with six points on my license.
Put the phone down and Music Week called me, asking me to write a piece on the state of classic rock (the music, not the mag, though that will be in there too, along with Planet Rock). First time Music Week - the industry bible here in Britain, like Billboard in the US - have hit me for a story for about three years. I felt suitably honoured.
Put the phone down and checked my email and some sweetheart at Rhino, the coolest compilers of box-sets in the world, was mailing asking if I would write the liner notes for a new collection they're doing on - hold onto yourselves - the History of Heavy Metal. Again, first time I've heard from them for a couple of years. What gives? Something in the stars perhaps? Just luck? (Never underestimate luck, it's a total fucker and will never forgive you...)
Then... well, the day just went on from there. I even had a conversation with Matthew the rock'n'roll bank manager that didn't involve me whipping out a begging bowl and whimpering something about please sir can I have some more. First time that's happened since Music Week was invented.
And tomorrow it's London and lunch with my new best friend at the Mail On Sunday, Rachel, who is treating me to nosebag at Arbutus, the new restaurant They Are All Talking About. (So Rachel tells me anyway.) First time someone has taken pity on me long enough to do that since I was able to wear a ponytail, and if you take a peek at the charming picture of me elsewhere on this site you'll see that that was so long ago now colour photography hadn't even been invented yet.
I feel very blessed. What's the betting the train crashes on the way, or one of the kids develops radiation sickness? Lay yer money down now. It's a sure thing.
29 January, 2007
One of those infuriating days where every time I get started on something writing-wise, either the phone rings, the email pings or - most often, today anyway - the fucking door opens and there stands wife / kid / dog / Martian telling me something I don't want to hear, don't care about and would really REALLY rather not know - not right now anyway, who said what to whom and why surely being subjects that can wait till LATER.
But no matter how much I yell I just can't quite get this message across. Friends often ask me how on earth I ever manage to get anything done working from home, and usually I laugh it off, explaining how that after 30 years I'm used to it. Then comes a day like this. Now I've had enough. The vibe has simply... fucked off. Thank you, loved ones. Thank you, family. It's been real. Like a two-ton heavy thing. On my head. Up my arse. Both.
28 January, 2007
Long, bright, sunny, cold day. Not the end of the week, though. Not for me. This was the start of the week. Work-wise anyway. That is, I was trying to get something done that should have been done at least a week ago. With me?
Ronnie Wood's the name, chain-smoking ciggies and gulping expressos' the game. Ever since he got out of rehab last September, the scarecrow-like Stones guitarist has been living on nothing else. And yesterday, there I was, trying to write about it. Or rather, about him. Weird one for me, as I was such a big Faces fan as a kid, but a nice change from the sort of heavy metal plonkers I made my name, such as it is, writing about 20 years ago. Not that I didn't - still do - like a lot of those guys, but Woody, as all his pretend friends know him, was actually someone I used to pin pictures of on my bedroom wall, back when... you know...
Anyway, today was the day the Story was Going to Get Done. And did it? Did it fuck. I got about halfway through, noticed it had gone dark outside, and gave up. A bad case of losing all interest at the crucial moment. A very old mannish thing to do. Which was bad as wife had been good enough to take kids out for the day in order to give me the space I needed to Do It. Sometimes I think I've forgotten how. That can also happen when you've spent most of your life riding the same tracks, trotting this stuff out.
Did have fun chatting on the phone to Ross, though. Ross is currently living proof of what happens when you haven't got enough work on - you end up going to record fairs and entertaining yourself with weird bootleg DVDs and esoteric Oriental films starring scantily-clad lady-boys. Actually, listening to him I got jealous. There is nothing right now I'd like more than to find a day where I had nothing to do except gander at a few old rock vids and slaver over a few strange (very strange) films never seen before this side of the yellow moon.
So... tomorrow it is then for me and Ronnie. Better hurry too, as this is a big week coming up. I'm nattering to John Mayall on the phone on Tuesday, then getting ready for four shows in a row for Planet Rock - Thurs and Fri night sitting in for Nicky. Then the Big One (Two, actually) on Saturday and Sunday. Oh yes, the all-new Mick Wall show starts here. Bet you can hardly wait...
27 January, 2007
Another day, another trip to the hospital. I kid not. I swear, they're going to name a ward after this family soon. We're still less than a month into the new year and we've already been there twice. Not the old lady this time, the boy. Eight o'clock this morning, there we were, having a Brady Family moment, all in bed together, the whole tribe, giggles, cuddles, sweet Saturday morning vibe. When suddenly...
The three-year-old girl decided she must RUN to the toilet. The one-year-old boy decided he must FOLLOW her, crawling at top speed. The result, the door being shut on his little finger. Cue: screams from baby! Cue: SCREAMS FROM WIFE!! Cue: a voice inside my head going, No, not the fuck again...
An hour later we're running into the hospital where I have phoned ahead to warn them they will need two beds - one for the boy, who is already over it and gurgling, if still cradling a badly mushed finger, and one for the wife who is still screaming hysterically.
Many hours later we are home. Boy's finger, having been X-rayed, prodded, pulled and kissed to death, still a bad colour but rapidly springing back into shape. Wife still in throes of hysteria. Me, dead from the neck down. I mean, dude, I hadn't even had a shit or a cup of tea yet and by now it was the afternoon. No way to start the day.
Consequently, all my grand plans for steaming into the laptop today to make up for the last couple of weeks doing very little because of wife's bad back have disappeared to that dark nameless place where the rest of my life resides most of the time. Obviously, I'm here now, doing this, so yes, I did get to the machine eventually. But I was so tired by then all I could manage was to sort through my email - like weeding an over-grown garden full of man-eating plants - and, um, write this.
So tomorrow it is then for catching up on two weeks work - before it all kicks off again on Monday. That is, unless one of the kids does something else stupid or I trap my head in a door. Actually, I feel like I already did that...
25 January, 2007
Went to London today - my second favourite place after hell. A worthwhile trip though, as I was treated to lunch by that nice Scott Rowley at Classic Rock. Being two old married men, we spent the first half of it gassing about our kids (we have six between us, enough to turn anyone's hair grey) before we got onto the so-called more important stuff - about bands and records and writing and all that malarkey.
We talked about a couple of stories Scott would like me to do - all very hush-hush, of course, being very important etc etc - then got onto the real juice: gossip, stories, those things you can't decide to laugh or shit over and so end up doing both. It was gone four o'clock by the time we left the restaurant so whatever the hell we were talking about it must have been good. Enough to make me nearly an hour late for my next appointment - with some TV 'people' that, amazingly, like all TV 'people', honestly don't have any money or budget or spondoolics or whatever, you know, honest, so how about I just bend over backwards for them out of the sheer pleasure I will get from seeing my ugly mug on TV. How about I don't, I said, and toddled off.
By the time I'd got on my train they were ringing me on the mobile, leaving messages asking me to call, because - miracle of miracles - they had managed to persuade some higher being that there might actually be some money available for the pitiful likes of me after all. I didn't phone back. Fuck 'em. I was still too full of Scott's lunch. Sat there on the train, chuckling over it. It's funny seeing someone going through the same struggles you once did, though it has to be said I think Scott handles it all a lot better than I did. That is, he doesn't appear to threaten to kill anyone on a daily basis. A true pro. And very little sign of insanity yet. There are a few editors I can think of could learn a lot from him...
24 January, 2007
Very little work getting done at the moment, what with wife still officially out of action. The trouble is, two-weeks in, you feel you can't keep bothering neighbours and friends for help, so it's down to Poor Old Daddy to take care of school runs, shopping, and all the other hundreds of daily nuisances that POD's normally don't have to worry about - on top of all the things I do have to worry about.
Didn't even get to check my email until about 6.00pm yesterday, only to find that up the creek (again). No idea who might have sent emails that haven't got through but enough to worry me. Then in the evening I had Aynsley Dunbar on the phone again, topping up the interview we did before Xmas for a couple of other things I'm (supposedly) working on.
Anyway, can't stop, the baby needs feeding then I'm off to pick up middle-child from pre-school. Oh, and the main kids-and-dog wagon is broken AGAIN!!!! So on top of everything else I had to drive that through the snow to the garage this morning. Should only cost "a couple of hundred" to fix, said Andy the mechanic.
What does he mean "only"? I thought the whole world knew how broke I am. But then, mechanics don't care about stuff like that. They know you will gnaw your own arm off to get your old jalopy back on the road. Really, the old thing needs dumping and a new wagon purchased, but then there's about as much chance of being able to afford that at the moment as there is of me being able to write one of these blog entries without mentioning moaning kids and broken-down wives. Maybe I could get a deal somewhere on all three...
22 January, 2007
Someone once asked Quentin Crisp what it felt like to grow old. He was about 70 at the time and he said the only real difference it made was that he slept more in the day. Well, by those standards I must be fast-approaching 90 because lately I've been keeling over into unconsciousness at the drop of a TV remote button. I was trying to watch the football last night, which started at 10pm. Caught the beginning, then woke up in time for the start of the next programme at 11.30pm. OK, not so heavy duty when you're tired and you've lived the kind of life I have (ooh, hard). But how about this morning, returning from the school run to munch a bowl of cereal - then find myself somehow, miraculously, floating upstairs to B.E.D. I really had no say in the matter, the old bod had simply taken over and done what it considered best.
Could have stayed there all day, but Still Stricken Wife invoked a serious mid-morning intervention and I found myself being hauled out of my warm dark nest again in order to drive her to the doctors'. Some hours later, I found myself sitting in the car, having semi-completed the homeward-bound end of the school-run, while wife and daughters launched a fresh attack on Sainsbury's. Only me and The Boy in the car, both of us asleep within seconds of The Others leaving.
Bliss. Then suddenly the awful jolting sound of car doors slamming open and shut again. Like gunshots to the head. I nearly jumped through the windscreen. The Women had returned. Great joy indeed as I sat there while they took the piss out of my creased old face, drool hanging from my unshaven chin, eyes like boiling red onions.
Home, finally, and the safety of my office, where for the first time all day I braved the inbox of my email. A TV company want to interview me for a documentary they are making about Freddie Mercury. But of course the only fee they can afford is my bus fair and a pint of wallop. I very politely explained that it would have to be two pints at least. Then someone wanting to know if I want to write about some amazingly fantastic band I've never heard of but are really REALLY fucking amazing, I mean really. I didn't even bother to reply to that one. Someone else offering advice on where to place my head following some comments attributed to me on some doubtless quite magnificent Guns N' Roses website run by human dildos. Ignored that too. Someone else asking me where my 'copy' is and why I am 'officially late' with... something else. Am I? Shit...
In other words, the usual sort of day. No wonder I am falling asleep so much. I'm off now to cook some lamb cutlets and ingest some medicinal Irish cider (over ice, as per the rules) while Poorly Wife recuperates in front of Eastenders and Evil Children run amok upstairs, jumping on beds and screaming at the top of their voices, ignoring my increasingly voluble threats. Yawn...
21 January, 2007
A full weekend. As wife was officially feeling A Bit Better, we went out on Saturday. Not far, only to the local shopping mall, but the biting wind did the kids good and of course we did our usual thing of buying loads of stuff we probably don't strictly need but bought anyway cos it cheered us up. Everyone got new shoes, even me, and like every Irishman of a certain age I went without shoes until I was in my thirties. Also bought the girls Lazy Town outfits. If you don't know what Lazy Town is, don't worry, it's a kidz thing. And got the boy a nice woolly hat.
Then we went to Sainsbury's where we spent so much money on food and more food my card wouldn't cover it. Wife was embarrassed but not moi, having spent years being embarrassed by far worse things than that. Just thrust another bit of wacky plastic their way and on we went. Ho bleeding hum...
Came home and while wife and kids went crazy trying on all their new clothes Daddy retired to the kitchen where ample doses of Radio 2 and bottled Magners (over ice, natch) was enough to inspire him to make one of his more interesting roast dinners. The only black spot the discovery that The Boy had destroyed my new Beatles Love CD by covering it in melted chocolate. Naturally, I made him pay heavily. He may only be one but that doesn't excuse that sort of hooliganism, obviously.
Then today I've been working again. For half of it anyway. Got to type up that Ronnie Wood interview I did for Classic Rock. Worst part of the job, actually listening back to the interview and transcribing the shit. I've had enough now though. Anyway, the boy and wife are both here now, looking at me funny and waiting for me to cook their dinner. And one of them has stinky pants. Clearly I am needed elsewhere...
19 January, 2007
What a week. No time to shit, let alone pontificate over blogs. The only reason I'm writing this is because the kids are being looked after for a couple of hours by various friends I have press-ganged into service and the old lady is so drugged on the painkillers she doesn't know I've left the room, which, by the way, is fast resembling the ward of a hospital. I wouldn't mind but where are my drugs? Don't these doctors ever think about the real sufferers in these situations - i.e. the poor sap fathers/husbands/boyfriends whose job it is to put up with all the side-effects of these so-called accidents, like child- and wife-care AND trying to keep the work side together at the same time. Give me something to PICK ME UP and KEEP ME GOING, please doc. PLEASE.
While I'm here though, a quick mention about those things I have been able to do this week - like the afternoon I spent in London on Wednesday, being interviewed by the lovely Rachel Griffiths for one (three, actually) of those best-selling rock DVDs she produces. In this instance, I was Acting Expert on the 'War' album by U2, the 'golden years' of Iron Maiden and a long, rambling bit of something to do with Lemmy and Motorhead. It's weird, when you get to my saintly age, to consider the things you are formally considered an 'expert' on. If ever I went on Mastermind - and I'm just waiting for the call any day now - my specialist subject would have to be something like Whitesnake: the Post-Neil Murray Era. Or possibly, Def Leppard and the Immutable Influence of Mutt Lange.
I don't mind, though. Considering I was over an hour late (thank you, once again, Great Western, for lengthening my days and shortening my life) Rachel was uncommonly welcoming, delivering the tea and homemade Afghan biscuits (the smack of mega-choccy biccies) quite literally on a tray as soon as I staggered worn-out and poor-me through the door. Nathan the cameraman also made my day, waving around a copy of Star Trippin' and telling me how much he's enjoying reading it. A lie, of course, but thoroughly nice of him to tell it. Rachel also had a copy, which she asked me to sign. Unfortunately, I made an arse of it by writing something supposedly funny (like you do) which of course... wasn't. Sorry, Rach.
I've also been going through the edits on the Axl book. Ingrid is such a great editor the book should actually look quite good when it comes out. Of course, by now I can't actually remember what I was thinking when I did it but she seems to have made sense of it all somehow. Get your orders in now, cos it's gonna be "explosive." That's what Ingrid says anyway, and she's the boss.
Then today I actually snuck out for a tres pleasant lunch at ye olde village boozer with Trevor from Planet Rock. It seems that premature senility has finally overtaken the poor chap as he's actually offered me the chance to do something "regular" as he puts it, and not just that thing I do in the deep dark of early mornings when only I am looking (along with a good book). No, it seems that I am going to be "appearing", as we old radio pros say, on Saturday and Sunday nights, doing what can only be described as "my thing." What that is exactly only Trevor knows really, but by the time we'd munched our steak-and-ale pies and quaffed our country beer he seemed pretty certain it would work.
Of course, if it doesn't, that will be entirely my fault, but as Trev says, "that's showbiz - now shaddup and get me another pint." He's my new hero (after Ross, natch). The show starts on Saturday Feb 3, at 8.00pm, but you can get an idea of what it will be like when I sit in again for Nicky Horne on Thurs (Feb 1) and Fri (Feb 2). Listen by all means, but remember to only send emails to the station saying how much better I am than anything else you have ever heard in your life on the radio.
OK, that's it. Apart from a quick thank you to Ali from Glasgow who sent me a nice email saying how much the blog made him (her? he/she didn't say) choke and spit coffee all over his/her keyboard (because he/she found it funny). I'm glad somebody's laughing. I'm certainly not, and nor would you be if you now had to go and pick up the obligatorily screaming kids and wrestle the still-hobbling wife away from the medicine cabinet.
17 January, 2007
As one or two of you may have noticed, there has not been any blog for you to pore over for a few days. The reason is very simple - my wife did her back in, popped a disc, and I've had to devote every waking (and supposedly sleeping) hour since then to trying to help the poor woman. Which, it goes without saying, has nearly killed me. As anyone with three small children will tell you, no book or magazine article or whatever is anything like such hard work and plain all out mental as running around after three small kids. Christ on the cross never had it that hard.
So here I am now, throwing this down quick quick quick before I collapse in the sack, just in time no doubt for the baby to wake up (AGAIN). Would love to entertain with some witty bon mots and all that but, fuck it, man, there's no time. I just wanted you to know I hadn't fallen off the edge of the world. Or rather, I have, but hopefully, I will be back. When wifey is better or the kids grow up, whatever comes quicker.
Oh, and Ross Halfin and I have decided to do a book together. After receiving many kind emails from plainly mentally disturbed people out there complimenting us on what can only loosely be described as our 'work', most especially, his hilarious diary and my own pale imitation blog, it got us thinking. Maybe... you know... a few stories and previously not allowed to be seen pictures from the well-fucked-but-rarely-told-past-we-have-shared... including several names you might recognise, though not as you're used to seeing or thinking of them... well, whaddaya reckon? Is it a goer? Being modest by nature we've decided to call it Bigger Than Jesus. Or possibly Everyday Stories of the Privileged People. Or possibly about 210 other equally sensible suggestions we just pissed ourselves on the phone laughing about.
Meanwhile, I must return now to my pinny and scrubbing brush. The dog has been sick and my wife is nodding out on the painkillers, and when I came downstairs at six o'clock this morning, laden with babies and hobbling women, I found our front door WIDE open. Standing there in my underpants, staring out onto the street I was. How fucking weird is that? Answer: very fucking weird indeed. I was forced to swallow a couple of my wife's anti-inflammatories just to calm me down...
12 January, 2007
Here's how to spend a day. Get woken up at about 6.00a.m. by a one-year-old headcase intent on hanging off the stair-gate until it crashes, taking him with it, down the stairs. The only thing that can save it - and him - is YOU. So despite the fact that you are still 90 percent unconscious, you run like hell and drag the little bastard away before Something Bad Happens.
He ends up on your bed, wriggling like a captured eel until finally - finally - he escapes your clutches and speeds off to try his luck on the wobbly stair-gate again. You, now only 10 percent still asleep, chase him and drag him back, fighting and screaming. Repeat the process several times until you are not only wide awake but ready to throw yourself down the fucking stairs.
Some time later... wave wife and kids off to school and decide to put gym shoes on and Work Out. You know you Need To, and Must, and so decide you Will. Then find yourself climbing - totally involuntarily - back into nice warm bed. Two seconds later - or what seems like two seconds later - wife has returned, indignant to find you Still In Fucking Bed.
You jump up, like somehow you were knocked unconscious by unknown assailants, run into shower, like you have something important to do, scrub all important zones, then come out, towel off, dress, etc etc etc, and come skipping down the stairs, ready to Face the Day. Wife then lulls you into false sense of security by offering breakfast eggs and toast, which of course you swallow whole.
And then she hits you with it. For reasons both sound and inarguable, but which I can't actually remember right this second, you must accompany her to the supermarket. There are no ifs and buts. Weeks and months buried away in the office have stripped you of all excuses. You meekly follow her out the door.
Now here's the good bit. After enduring shops, shopping, talk of shopping, and the actually doing of shopping, then fetching middle sprog from pre-school, you return to help with lunch and... miracle of miracles, wife then takes middle and small sprog off to swimming pool for pre-arranged lessons. At which point, you head for your office and the serious business of daily grind... only to find yourself, somehow, completely against your will, as if hypnotised, climbing back into bed - and passing out again.
Fucking fantastic! Best bit of all, wife and children do not return for Several Hours!!! And when they do they are accompanied by friends, and so can't make a fuss because that would be embarrassing. Instead, up you jump - again - and put everybody at ease by making tea-time Cheeseburgers For All. Hooray for Daddy!
Now it is evening and wife is busy in bathroom enduring nightly battle to prevent herself from drowning all three sprogs before they give her a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, as soon as I finish typing this, I am Dutifully Taking The Dog Out.
Hopefully, by the time I return there will only be the one-year-old sprog still awake and being force-fed bottles by exhausted mum. This may not sound fair or right or what the fuck ever to you. But to me this is just fine and dandy. Not because I do not want to Do My Bit. But because my bit fell off about a week before Xmas and I am still waiting for it to grow back. Meanwhile, I'm grabbing all the rest I can. And quite right too, as surely all will agree.
11 January, 2007
A nothing sort of a day. Just itsy-bitsy farty-warty sort of stuff. Sorting out bills, transferring balances from one credit card to another, borrowing from Lucifer to pay Satan, and going through the pile of letters and junk mail on my desk that I was too busy to sort through in December.
It's not that I don't have anything proper to do, it's just that I had this week marked down as a week off, which of course it hasn't been now that I'm actually here, but I am determined not to start anymore serious writing until... oh, at least next week.
Got the first part of the edits back for the Waxy book, which I do have to look at quickly. I always hate this part of the process as it forces you to really think about something you've already done and - in your mind - dusted. Going back down roads you don't really ever want to see again, like some trauma victim dragged back to the scene of the crime by the head doctors. But it's necessary and it's good. Ingrid the editor knows her stuff and so it's not too painful. Honest.
Now I'm sitting here waiting for Damian my accountant to turn up. I can't quite remember why he offered to come all the way out here to see me, but it's awfully nice of him, especially as January is the worst month of the year for guys like him, this being Tax Month. We're going to ye olde village pub where they serve better three-course meals than most London restaurants I know, but we're not drinking. Damian never drinks in January and that suits me fine as I'm feeling as bloated as an eight-month pregnant washer-woman. Because I was so busy over Xmas - and so beyond caring - I haven't done any proper 'working out' exercise for nearly a month, and boy do I feel the difference. I know I will feel better if I can just climb onboard that stepping machine and pick up those weights again. It's just getting me within a three-yard radius of the damn thing. Definitely tomorrow, maybe.
10 January, 2007
Well, it all went quite well, I think. The Planet Rock show, I mean. Sitting in for Nicky Horne... how strange was that? Not if you've never heard of him, of course. But for someone like me, who used to listen as a teenager in my bedroom to his old Your Mother Wouldn't Like It show on Capital Radio back in the mid-70s, it was a real kick. If you'd told me then... well, if you'd told me anything back then about the life I eventually came to lead I wouldn't have been able to believe you. Whether this is entirely a good thing, I'm really not sure. There are many - many - days and nights and years when I have been utterly convinced it is not. That somehow back there I definitely missed a turn and went up the wrong street. Though not always, of course.
Drove home up the M4 through the rain very slowly and steadily. That is, at a steady 70mph as opposed to the 100mph I usually do on nights like that. I wanted to get home, I just needed time to think. Or rather not think. There is something very consoling about being forced into a space where you don't need to think about anything for a couple of hours.
Didn't know what to do with myself once I was home. Too late to eat properly, too early to go straight to bed, I needed to sit down for a while first. This is where smoking always used to come in handy. You're never at a loss when you can sit there smoking. Made some toast instead. Then passed out on the couch. My wife woke me at 3.00a.m., just in time for the baby to start up. Which was great, obviously.
Then today, back to reality. Too much fucking reality, actually. Our poor old dog Annie is ailing badly. A German Shepherd whose back legs have started to go. She seems to be getting worse by the day. So we've got to take her to the vets, and we're not sure we'll be coming home with her. It's a ghastly thought. But then all our back legs go eventually, don't they? And now is never a good time to think about it. But deal with it we will. Just not today...
08 January, 2007
So that's what it's like out there in the land where people walk around as though they're not bearded recluses with their heads stuck up the arse of some book. I could get to like it, though I did feel a bit like a prisoner on day-release at first. Only being given a taste of freedom a couple of hours at a time.
In fact, it wasn't until Sunday that I was actually allowed to leave town, going in to Oxford with the brood to do some of what you earthlings call 'shopping'. It was great, actually. Raining but who cares. We hit all the hot spots - starting with the Disney Store (it's the law), then BHS (for the toilets, children not being able to walk more than 100 yards without needing a most urgent wee), then Pret A Manger (dads not being able to walk much further without sandwiches, juice, hand-fried crisps etc etc), then Edinburgh Wool, where my wife treated herself to several items of the utmost luxuriousness and I managed to ping a blue sweatshirt into the basket.
From there it was onto MacDonalds (another children's wee-stop, not having taught them the ancient art of weeing in unison yet), then Waterstones, where Mummy went straight to number one in my chart, taking the non-stop yacking girls to the downstairs kids' section, leaving Daddy free to wander around the big boys' bit with just the sleeping baby in the buggy to, er, bug me. Which he didn't, bless his little pooey bum.
Came out with seven books - not quite a record for me but close. I picked up cheapo paperbacks of Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (in order to learn how to write 'proper' biographies), Neil Gaiman's Smoke And Mirrors (love his 'graphic novel' work so might dig this) and Saul Bellow's The Adventures Of Augie March. I only got into Bellow for the first time on holiday this summer in Dorset, when I bought Humboldt's Gift for a farthing at the charity shop in Blandford, and fell for him big-style, so looking forward to this. I also picked up a beautiful notebook that looks a hundred years old (faux antique) but is actually very modern with magnetised flap to keep the covers closed. First time in my entire writing life I've ever bought a proper notebook. Felt like Bruce Chatwin. All I need now is a pen.
The girls also got books. Eldest daughter picked two, Charlotte's Story (I think) and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Considering she's only six, I am inordinately proud that she can read these things so well. And youngest daughter got a Tweenies book, which of course was also a very fine choice. Wife, as usual, chose nothing. Not knowing whether to stick to the grisly true-crimes gore she usually plumps for or something a bit more... literary. In the end, she bought nothing. She's a DVD kid, really. So 21st century it makes me weep digital tears.
From there, not having gorged ourselves enough, we dragged the by now seriously flagging gaggle ("Daddy, my legs hurt." "Nonsense! In my day we had to walk 50 miles just to get to the outside toilet!") into Gap where they had a 75 percent off sale on. I bought a 'top' as I believe their called in metrosexual land. And Linda bought tops and bottoms. Classy, like. And fuck all youse who say Gap is sociologically unsound. Like I care on a wet Sunday afternoon, my first day out in yonks...
Today, of course, it was back to the small cell with bars over the window I call my office. But that was OK too as I wasn't actually doing any writing, just preparing for tomorrow's night show on Planet Rock, sitting in for Nicky Horne. I expect you'll all have cleared your diaries for that one, 7 - 11pm. Think of me sitting there in my nice new blue Edinburgh wool sweatshirt. Bloody exciting, you've got to admit...
05 January, 2007
I am at a sudden loss - and it feels good. The reason is that this weekend I am going to be free. Well, not free in the sense of being able to down a bottle of Jack Daniels, roll a big fat hairy joint, snort coke off the pink round bottoms of hookers, and watch round-the-clock DVDs of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Sadly, that part of my life, if it ever really existed, is now definitely over.
No, I mean free as in - no work. Nothing to do. No pressing deadlines or dickheads from the VAT office harassing me. This will be the first weekend I've had like that for... oh... let's see... about six months. And it fucking feels like it too.
Of course, come Monday when my accountant Damian comes to visit me - along with the news of how much the vultures at the VAT want off me this month, plus the blood-suckers at the Inland Revenue, no-life lackeys with dysfunctional sex-lives, or cunts, as I believe they like to be known, not that I'm bitter - this will all change. Then on Tuesday I'm back to London, my second least favourite place after Hell, though in this instance it will be to "hang out" at Planet Rock, where I'm depping on the evening show for Nicky 'Your Mother Never Liked Him' Horne, so it won't be toooo bad.
The point is, I know it's only a weekend, two little days which the children will quickly fill up for me anyway with their pathetic cries for bread and water and irritating pleas for their knots to be loosened, but I won't be spending them here, in front of the laptop, writing about some lunatic who thinks singing in a band makes him bigger than Jesus and more important even than Ross. I will be out there, gallivanting around like a gay two-year-old horse, tail whisking in the breeze, ears pinned back as I jump the fences of fun and run like a bastard down eight furlongs of green horseshit-strewn mudland.
As you can see, I'm quite excited by the prospect. First though, I might just manage a little doze this evening in front of the trusty old goggle-box, one eye on Just The Two Of Us, wondering what it would be like to have that mad old bint Sarah Brightman wrap her hair extensions round you, an entirely medicinal glass of something red by my side, just the faint sound of baby screams coming from somewhere upstairs. It's a good life, really, if you'll just let it be...
04 January, 2007
You'll have to bear with me if this blog entry turns out to be my most tedious yet, as I am writing it under a huge red cloud of self-consciousness. My good friend - and esteemed editor - Maureen Rice called me today to tell me how much she really likes the blog. Something which made me go all tingly all over. We then agreed, however, that the reason this thing works occasionally is because I don't try and 'write' it write it, if you get me. I just let it all hang out. The only trouble is, we spent so long talking about how I don't really think about it, I just do it, that I've been thinking about almost nothing else since. Well, between having to get on with the so-called 'real' thing, obviously.
Sorry, is this all getting a bit post-modern? Sorry. I told you this wasn't going to work. Perhaps you should come back tomorrow when I will hopefully be back to my usual tired, knackered, miserable non-'writing' self. It's not my fault though. Blame Maureen. If you knew how much her opinion meant to me you'd understand. Once, many hopelessly embarrassing years ago, I was madly in love with her, you see, but she wisely saw me for the trouserless faker I was and made her nest with a much more reliable, much more loveable sort of feller. And she was right to do so. It would never have worked between us because she's so much smarter than me and you know how that goes.
Anyway, now I've embarrassed her, too, I expect you want to know more about my day. About the nice man called Adam who finally came to fix the boiler, and the lovely email I got from my other old friend Nita, telling us about her new baby daughter, Harper Lucie, born on New Year's Day, and about my own children, one of whom never stops smiling and one of whom never stops crying, and one of whom just never stops.
And... well... Sorry, it's just no good. I'm just too self-conscious. Come back tomorrow when I promise to sit here without the belt of my trousers done up too tight...
03 January, 2007
Right, some quick hellos and happy new years and one or two thank yous even, for those of you out there that have brightened my days - nights, usually, actually - just a little bit lately with your mostly kind emails.
In no particular order, just as I find them now, firstly, happy new year to Michaela Greasley, who wrote to say:
"This isn't a begging email just one purely to say THANK YOU. I read your blog during my lunch break and there has been many a day when your thoughts / feelings have got me through the day. I feel particularly privileged to have been a part of your journey writing the new book (if only through reading your blog) and I wait in anticipation for when it is available to buy."
Bless your heart, Michaela. I wish you had been with me for my 'journey'. I might not have got there much quicker but what fun we might have had. (You're not a bloke in internet disguise, are you?)
Also, thank you to Peter Wilson, who writes:
"Star Trippin' is succinctly summed up as 'Pretty Fucking Awesome'..."
I think you might be exaggerating just a teen-weeny bit there Pete, but shucks, who can blame you.
Then Colin Irwin, who says:
"I did manage to listen to bits and pieces of the Planet Rock shows but not all of them. Try explaining to a 12-year-old who Uriah Heep is... she liked The Eagles then wanted to flick to Hannah Montana..."
Who's this Hannah bird, some floozy from Radio One? Don't allow that filth in the house, Colin.
Also, Tim Batcup, who wins the prize for weirdest name AND best email, today...
"God bless you man... the plaintive yet humorous blog today kick started some sense of injustice. Obviously times are tricky with your good self and it ain't right... I well remember your Kerrang work, your Marillion book, 'Paranoid' and even Dave Dickson trying to explain the machinations of Aleister Crowley's mind to 1985's denim and leather clad finest. Ye Gads... I guess what I'm trying to say, there's not a lot of great rock writers out there, but you always manage to juggle the excitement, bullshit, and importance of all this stuff with an honest twist and a down to earth turn of phrase all too rare these days. I for one really appreciate this. Good on you Mick... Looking forward to what masses of shrinks, cash and other writers couldn't do - an honest analysis of the GN'R phenomenon."
And so forth. There are hundreds of these but I'm sure you get the picture.
On a more personal note, I also got a very nice email today from my old friend Maureen Rice, who sent me into a faint by telling me SHE actually reads this blog too. When you consider that Maureen is a top writer and editor in her own right - which is several 'rights' up from the level I usually dwell on - it's enough to make you go tottering off into the corner with your hands over your privates, whinnying like Kenneth Williams in an old Carry On film.
Which I shall now proceed to do...
01 January, 2007
A strange start to the new year. We were all in bed asleep by the time the chimes of midnight turned into the neighbours' fireworks of hell. Luckily, I was the only one they woke up, the baby saving his mid-night cries for about 3.30a.m. Followed by our three-year-old, who when I went in to ask her what was wrong, merely whimpered: "I can't go back to sleep."
"Here, let me show you," I whimpered back, and got into bed next to her and lay there stroking her curly golden hair until she was snoring and now I really was wide awake. Lay there thinking of death, of course. That's what all men my age with half a brain lie there thinking of at night when they can't sleep. There is only one known cure, which I eventually went back to my own bed and took - turning on the bedside light and getting stuck into the new Jeremy Clarkson book.
People that don't like Jeremy Clarkson don't know what they're on about. I wish I could write as well as him. I wouldn't mind if my books sold as well as his, either. Actually, if all of my books sold as much as just one of his books, I'd be ready to retire right now. Which is sort of why they never will. God knows I would simply give up too easily.
As for today, went back to work, then said fuck it, and took the family out for the traditional new year's day family drive in search of a burger joint that was open. Thankfully, this being the 21st century and where we live being just another offshore US state, we found one straight away. Burger King, in Cowley. Drove up, bought a bunch, and tucked straight in. Then we all drove home happy - and I went back to work.
What a tremendously exciting life I lead these days. Almost as exciting as those amazing people on Torchwood, which I've just finished watching on BBC3. Great programme. One day, people will talk about it the way they talk now about The Avengers or The Prisoner.
OK, that's it. I'm off now. Just checking in. By the way, if you're still awake, tomorrow I'm going to try and find time to look back on all the quite amazing emails I've had from you out there - both this past week and this past nine months since I started this blog. Some of them have touched me deeply. And some have just touched me. See what I mean tomorrow. Maybe...