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August 30, 2007

Reading: Saturday and Sunday

Follow-up to Reading: Friday from Esprit de l'escalier


We started late on Saturday after a boat ride down the Thames to fetch some beer. The first band we saw were the Shins, of unsubtle plug in Garden State fame. Apparently they’ll change your life. They sounded alright but I’m not converted yet.

Young Knives were pretty good, refreshing my memory of last summer’s hits. Thanks to backpacking and not have a radio in my room, my keeping track of new music has been a bit slack the past year. I thought I would have heard more of the current big thing Pigeon Detectives before I saw them, but I only managed to recognise two songs. The rest of the crowd were certainly au fait and the atmosphere in the NME tent was great.

I think I saw some of the Tokyo Police Club but they obviously made no impression on me. Bloc Party had the tunes and were basically flawless but they didn’t really offer anything special so I got distracted by teenagers on piggyback getting stuff thrown at them by angry people behind them. And the bar.

Arcade Fire were one of the highlights of the weekend with what are now bona fide anthems and their insane percussion section. The sunset halfway through their set was a nice touch.

We Are Scientists are in many ways like Jimmy Eat World with their epic, vaguely indie rock and the fact they are well underrated. While everyone was getting to the Main Stage for the Chilis, I went up to the relatively sparse NME Tent to catch the Californian three-piece. The set was half a showcase for the last album and half a bunch of new songs, which are sounding promising. The only problem was I couldn’t hear their whimsical banter between songs.

I caught six songs of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, only one of which I’d heard before – that shit Hey Oh one. What Hits? indeed. Saw a bit of Hot Hot Heat, who were decent enough.


This is how out of the new music loop I am. I own not one album by a band who were playing on the Sunday. It was a good opportunity to flit between the Carling and NME stages to take in some random bands and see what all this New Rave fuss was about.

Pull Tiger Tail were good. Hadouken! were better. Ben, the lucky get, found some chump’s unused VIP pass lying on the ground so went to watch the band from backstage alongside folk from the Klaxons, CSS and the NME.

New Young Pony Club did exactly what it says on the tin: they were new, they were young, and they were pony. The only memorable part of the Operator Please set was when NME editor Conor McNicholas walked past me, and it turns out he’s quite short! If someone like him can get into a position of power, there’s hope for me yet.

After missing Kubichek! every time they played live when I was in Newcastle, I finally saw them and they were rather frenetic. Cold War Kids and Devendra Banhart were up next and they were probably the most impressive of the weekend’s “new” music. At first I thought CWK’s singer sounded like James Walsh out of Starsailor, but then it transpired that he was from the States, so he’s allowed to sing in that accent. Banhart wasn’t inaccessibly quirky as I’d been lead to believe though at one point he took the unusual step of bringing some “random” members of the crowd on stage to sing a song.

Former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley was looking and sounding good. We saw about half of CSS who were enjoyable enough before heading over to see Seasick Steve, a grizzled old slide guitarist playing some swampy delta blues. Completely anachronistic at Reading, but brilliant. Everyone was chanting “Seasick! Seasick!” between songs and he said that made a nice change from “Steve-o! Steve-o!” which he got at his last gig. Of course, everyone took this as a cue to start chanting “Steve-o!” which was a bit harsh on the kindly old man, but he was a good sport.

LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy doesn’t look like he should be fronting a hip dance-rock outfit. A session drummer at best, maybe. I might buy their latest critically-acclaimed album, but I was slightly put off by their set-closer, the lyrics to which are “yeah” ad infinitum. And Daft Punk Is Playing In My House needs more cowbell.

We decided to be poncey and buy some Thai food then returned to see the NME Tent’s headliners the Klaxons. It seemed like if you didn’t have a glowstick you weren’t getting in, so we tried to listen from outside, but the strains of the Smashing Pumpkins drifting over from the Main Stage got in the way of the New Rave so we cut our losses and went to end the festival at the Silent Disco.

August 29, 2007

Reading: Friday

Follow-up to Reading 2007 from Esprit de l'escalier

This is who I saw:

First, I went to check out the Pipettes on the Main Stage. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for bubblegum pop with a 60s twist, or maybe they were just irritating.

Then it was the Sounds on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. Swedish purveyors of power pop with a stone-cold, and foul-mouthed, fox for a lead singer. I was impressed.

Back we went to the Main Stage for the Long Blondes, who offered the winning combination of cracking songs off Someone To Drive You Home and the presence of the singer Kate Jackson, whom I quite fancy. As a bonus, I had the revelation that the intro to Giddy Stratospheres sounds just like the one for the Dead 60s’ Riot Radio.

Hirsute gypsy punks Gogol Bordello were up next and they were madder than a badger in spats. Very enjoyable songs featuring such lyrics as “Have you ever been to an American wedding; where’s the vodka, where’s marinated herring?” [note: it helps if this is sung in a Ukrainian accent]

We ducked out during Start Wearing Purple to catch who I’m now told are called the Blood Red Shoes (as opposed to the Red Shoe Diaries). Yet another rock outfit fronted by a hottie, but pretty forgettable.

After that we went to the Alternative Stage for a sit down, and semi-famous comic Tim Minchin just happened to be starting. He was surprisingly good; think the campness of Eddie Izzard and the piano skills of Bill Bailey, with an Australian accent. I particularly liked his song about the failed rock star because I got the joke before the end.

The rest of the day was a no-brainer: the Main Stage had big name acts up the Ying Yang, starting with the band who kick-started the Emo craze (though I don’t hold that against them), Jimmy Eat World. They played a blinder of a set, with all the classics off Bleed American. I haven’t seen them since Leeds ’02 and frontman Jim has got a bit podgy. He reminded me of Matt Parkman out of Heroes.

Between bands the announcement by the hapless compere that Razorlight would be headlining that evening was met with boos. Wow, they’ve come a long way.

Maximo Park were a bit disappointing, playing far too many slow songs off the new album, and no Limassol or A Fortnight’s Time. Paul Smith’s wackiness got a bit too much and seemed to be trying to introduce each song in an even more baffling way than the last. He might want to learn some self-awareness. And how to devise a good set list.

I finally saw Interpol and they were little more than really, really cool. I got pretty close for the Kings of Leon who were brilliant, as expected. A few songs off the new album had the cigarette lighters out, so the crowd wasn’t as physically intense as it could have been. Still, I wouldn’t have liked to be wearing flip flops.

The boys from Tennessee departed and the chants of “fuck Razorlight” began. As you may know, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Borrell and his band. It’s like this: I know they’ve got shit, but I can’t help enjoying their second album. So I retreated far enough to avoid the true fans but remained close enough to indulge in my guilty pleasure. Five songs in, Johnny Borrell’s histrionics got too much so I went to find the others and watched a nice but dull Albert Hammond Jr. of Strokes fame in the Carling Tent. Holly, if you’re reading this, what did your text about Razorlight say again?

We avoided the mass exodus by hiding in the empty Lock-Up Stage where Jimmy Eat World had been playing again and Officer Parkman, the lovely guy that he is, was chatting to his fans. Also there we saw TV’s Rob Rouse!

Shit, I’ve written loads, and I’m only a third through. More tomorrow, hopefully.

August 22, 2007

Shock negative review of new Bourne film

The Bourne Ultimatum
2 out of 5 stars

The funny thing about the Bourne films is how hyped they are for such a forgettable franchise. (That, by the way, is the only funny thing.)

Reviews across the board are giving the new one, The Bourne Ultimatum, 4 out of 5 plus. And okay, it’s fairly gripping with some cool action set-pieces, but there’s very little more to it. I suppose the reason the series is so critically acclaimed is that is it’s not pretentious or flashy. It has the memory-loss gimmick and a smattering of murky intrigue but apart from that it’s balls-to-the-wall action. No hi-tech gadgetry, no glamorous locations, no witty repartee, no suave goodie, no wacky baddie.

Matt Damon acquits himself well as the unassuming killing machine and his antics provide all the entertainment. Maybe it’s because I’m more of a comedy fan but I’m finding it hard to remember a more humourless film. The only times I laughed were a part of a “Ha! Awesome” reaction to something brilliant Jason Bourne did. This happened frequently, happily, but in between you just had endless, frenetically-shot car chases, motorcycle chases, rooftop chases (once you’ve seen one Tangier window smashed by Bourne jumping through it, you’ve seen ‘em all) and fist fights.

When Bourne first appeared it was understated and worthy, which was probably refreshing for some – especially compared to the later Brosnan Bond films. Maybe Casino Royale has made me look on the Bourne in a new light – it offered what The Bourne Ultimatum does and so much more. Bourne kills a man in a toilet with his bare hands. We get that in Casino Royale along with a more intricate plot, better characters and even a bit of humour.

And why cast Albert Finney as a senior CIA type when you had Brian Cox in the last one and his character, a senior CIA type, shot himself? I got a bit confused.

Brian Cox

Albert Finney

Just me then.

July 12, 2007

Exclusive: the new Harry Potter film reviewed

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
1 out of 5 stars

Thanks to my contacts in the film industry, I wangled a ticket to a preview of the new Harry Potter film, due for general release today.

The latest instalment of Middle America’s most burnable series of children’s novels to be filmed is the highly anticipated Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.

It pains me to report that the effort is yet another in a long line of sequel-based turkeys the poor movie-going public has had to endure this summer (cf. Pirates 3, Spiderman 3, Shrek 3).

The film follows young Potter, a new graduate of Hogwarts, attempting to make a life for himself in the Real World. Unfortunately for him, there is little demand for wizardry amongst the muggles and he finds himself working in Burger King.

The film follows the usual slacker film cliches: Harry and Ron (who, thank to some very implausible reasoning, ends up working at the very same branch as Harry) devise various gross tricks to play on their mean boss Mort Voldeburg, they dream of getting out of the dump, and halfway in Harry cops off with the new hottie in the scene that famously had to be shot 30 times at that rascal Daniel Radcliffe’s request.

Eventually, a pheonix turns up at the restaurant and orders a Rodeo Burger, an obsolete menu item involving onion rings and BBQ sauce. Rather than tell the ashy bird to pick again, pal, Harry decides to embark on a quest in order to deliver exceptional customer service.

No matter how few people are going to see the film as a result of this review, I could not possibly spoil the ending for you. But overall the film is pitiful. There really is no excuse for the blatant product placement, the corporate endorsement of the reviled McJob, the laziness of the script, and the rampant anti-semitism. Wait for the DVD.

May 13, 2007

The Blair Bitch Project

Blair's Premiership
2 out of 5 stars

In news about as shocking as a typical My Family punchline, Tony Blair resigned on Thursday, opening the floodgates for the media to pore over his ten years of office and deliver versions of his legacy in handy souvenir pullouts. One wonders what the newspapers have up their sleeves for when he actually goes on June 27th. For what it’s worth, here’s my purely subjective take on his premiership.

Say what you like about Blair, he’s a fantastic politician. He made Labour electable again, but was it worth it? If I take my awkward question to mean was he good for the Labour Party, then probably not. For all the things he’s done to disillusion me, I have a grudging respect for him – sure he’s a shit, but he’s a charismatic shit.

It’s difficult to doubt his good intentions, but even his successes may not be so unequivocal.
- The minimum wage and low unemployment. The least he could do; I reckon more of the workforce is in the informal sector, employed by agencies, with low job security and no prospects, than when he came to power.
- Northern Ireland. There’s finally a power-sharing executive that might just work, but how big was Tony’s role in it since Good Friday?
- Solid economic growth and low inflation. Thanks to the independent Bank of England.
- Action on climate change. To me, this has only taken off since An Inconvenient Truth came out.
- Debt relief and development. What’s actually happened since Gleneagles?

To be fair, crime rates and NHS waiting lists have fallen, though you wouldn’t know it from press coverage.

Anything positive is outweighed by:
- Privatising anything with a pulse with a more-Thatcherite-than-Thatcher zealotry.
- Privatisation by the back door in the form of PFI, which, last time I checked, is still pretty discredited (The Guardian).
- Contracting out public service management to consultants who fuck things up so they can get paid again to sort their own mess out.
- Tuition fees.
- Top-up fees, though they are more redistributive than the Tories’ HE policies.
- Oh, and Iraq: selling out the country’s foreign policy and diplomatic power, starting an unwinnable war on false pretences, and eroding any moral high ground over Islamic extremists by undermining the rule of law and civil liberties.

Two out of five is generous.

The other day I realised that I agree with very little Labour have legislated on in the past few years. So I’m looking forward to Gordon Brown’s inevitable premiership and the new direction he’ll take the party. Apart from expecting “more of the same” I don’t understand the unremitting flak he’s been coming under for the past year. For God’s sake, Gordon’s hero is Bobby Kennedy – the greatest President America never had! They’re all just ants at a picnic.

That said, unlike the jubilant but naive 13-year-old on the morning of May 2 1997, I’m bracing myself for disappointment.

March 27, 2007

Travelling Around the World – a Literature Review

As you know, the main reason people go on holiday is to read novels. And I, while backpacking the globe, was no exception to the rule, getting through the best part of eleven books. I now present my potted reviews for each of them, so when you re-read my travel blogs you’ll know what I was enjoying (or, indeed, not enjoying), literature-wise, at the time.

NB. I didn’t actually take 11 books with me – I variously gave them away, was given them, bought them at second-hand bookshops and swapped them at hostel book exchanges along the way. It is largely the latter that accounts for the randomness of the selection. The bookshelves would frequently have a title from my List Of Books To Read, only it would be in Finnish, so I would have to settle for ones whose authors sounded familiar, or just looked pretty.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (started in Newcastle, finished on a Greyhound in Arizona)
This, along with Catch-22 and Crime & Punishment, is one of the three best books I have read. For one thing, at £1 for 800 pages it was really good value for money. It was written in the early seventeenth century so the translation is pretty close to Shakespearean English; luckily, I’m used to that so I found it relatively easy to read. It’s funnier than Shakespeare. Even if you’ve not read it you’re likely to at least know that Don Quixote is a middle-aged country gent who decides to become a knight and gallivants around La Mancha with his ‘squire’ Sancho Panza in search of adventure. From this simple premise and Quixote’s wild, fairy-tale-influenced imagination, hilarious japes almost write themselves. Quixote’s attempts to rescue damsels, free slaves and defend his lady’s honour leads to all sorts of trouble, and gets Sancho beaten up (or tossed in a blanket) on regular occasions. The second part of the book, in which the first part of the book has been published and read by the characters Don Quixote meets, is pure genius.

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh (Flagstaff – Los Angeles)

Evelyn Waugh was a man.

- Scarlett Johanson in Lost In Translation
Yes, Scarlett, but did it not occur to you that the ‘bimbo’ you’re denigrating was being ironic when she checked in under that name? But this isn’t about overrated films; this is about a relatively short comic novel set in 1920s London high society. Apart from the off-putting joke names, it’s a good read, and very funny.

The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (Los Angeles – Beachcomber (unfinished))
Apparently Eco is the thinking man’s Dan Brown, so I was quite interested in reading this, though it wasn’t one of his two books I’d heard of. It’s about an old bookshop owner who wakes up from a coma with amnesia. So it’s basically about him regaining his memory. It’s good until Eco spends way too long describing the childhood house to which he returns and explores as if it’s all new. Thanks to booze, my concentration was shot to bits so I gave up not only on the book but any claim to be a thinking man by picking up…

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (Auckland – Nelson)
I was given this, okay? And it took me a month to lower myself to read it. So shut up. Like The Da Vinci Code, it’s a page-turner with prose so bad it reads like it was typed with a sledgehammer. It’s also a fun mystery-thriller with interesting ideas about science and religion and it makes me feel clever to be several steps ahead of the stupid characters. It’s basically got the same formula right down to the kindly old man who gets murdered at the start and his sexy young relative who joins Robert Langdon on the investigation. I can’t say whether it’s better or worse than TDVC but the amount of times Brown required me to suspend my disbelief – the Pope’s death not being exciting news, the really fast plane, a stereotypical English tabloid journalist who’d worked for “The British Tatler”, the incredibly nice man being the baddie twist – was audacious. I really fancy writing a Dan Brown-style (but good) thriller. The Bob Woolmer thing has really inspired me, God rest his soul.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Queenstown – Christchurch)
A rare book that was both on my List and at a book exchange in English. It’s Vonnegut’s personal account of being a prisoner of war and witnessing the carpet bombing of Dresden. I like his freewheeling prose and black humour, but for some reason – maybe I read it really quickly – it didn’t make as much impression on me as I’d thought.

You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers (Christchurch – Moreton Island)
I’d heard of Eggers because he’s one of the hip young breed of authors The Guardian keeps going on about, and loved him so much they had him write short short stories for the Weekend, which I didn’t like and had forgotten about when I picked this up. It’s about two Americans in their mid-twenties, Will and Hand, who decide to travel the world in a week and give away a load of unwanted money. They end up going to Senegal, Morocco and Estonia. The book’s also about the death of their friend Jack and its aftermath, told in flashback. I like Eggers’ dry humour and impressive eye for detail, in particular Hand’s habit of speaking pidgin English to foreigners. Not being a fan of The Catcher In The Rye, however, I didn’t much dig narrator Will’s Holden Caulfield-style angst, which tends to smother proceedings.

Idlewild, Or Everything Is Subject To Change by Mark Lawson (Moreton Island – Singapore)
“Mark Lawson,” I thought, “that rings a bell. It couldn’t be-” I looked at the back cover and sure enough, there was the chubby sometime presenter of Newsnight Review, looking about ten years younger. He’d written a novel in the 90s – a what-if about John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe if they hadn’t died when they did. I’ll damn it with faint praise and call it fun. But despite a couple of dodgy twists he’s better than Dan Brown.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres (Singapore – Bangkok)
It starts off being really funny, then the violence starts and it just gets bleak, and doesn’t really relent. Brilliant. I enjoyed it more than Slaughterhouse Five as an anti-war book, despite this one being fiction. I’d quite like to see the film now, because it’s supposed to be shit.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Kanchanaburi – the Mekong River)
I mentioned indirectly on my Laos blog that I didn’t much care for this book. Sure, it has those classic Victorian literary ingredients: an aristocrat who toys with the lives of others, supernatural phenomena, and opium dens. And there’s Wilde’s famous wit, of course. But things just pissed me off like Wilde revealing little of what Dorian actually does to make his portrait age so quickly, and the story suddenly jumping about twelve years ahead in the final act. The main thing is that when I get IDed nowadays, I can quip that I have a portrait in my attic that looks old enough, and know what I’m talking about.

Thud! by Terry Pratchett (The Mekong – Ha Long Bay)
I used to read Discworld books all the time as a teenager but this was my first for a while. It’s a City Watch book, and they’re usually the best. This one’s great because it explores racial intolerance and multiculturalism – you know, important issues in contemporary British society – by pitting the races of Ankh-Morpork against each other. It’s very clever and given the subject’s sensitivity, well-handled despite Pratchett’s cheeky use of stereotypes.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (Hanoi – a GNER train between Doncaster and York)
This is the only book I read that was set anywhere near where I was travelling, i.e. the second half of it is in Thailand (briefly) and Malaysia. Like that other Joseph Conrad book I’ve read, Heart Of Darkness, it’s all about an employee of a trading company who is posted to the jungle and ends up becoming a sort of lord to the people there, and Marlow tells the story. Okay, there’s more to it than that – Jim drifts around Asia to escape the memory of a disgraceful incident in his youth and the novel is all about honour and redemption. It’s a good story and I love Conrad’s hilarious minor characters (such as the notorious Robinson, who is described glowingly as a maniac, then turns out to be a frail, quiet old man), but it’s not exactly a page-turner; Conrad spares no detail and frequently lets the plot slow to a crawl. What makes this more annoying is the fact that most of the book is supposed to be Marlow speaking, and you’d think any sane person telling an anecdote like this would cut down on the superfluous imagery.

Now I’m just reading the news in the hope that I’ll come up with some more blogs.

May 27, 2006

Another timewasting opportunity

Writing about web page

I'm surprised I've never expounded on the brilliance of the Perry Bible Fellowship until now. No, I haven't been keeping secret some out–of–character religious conversion; I'm talking, of course, about the cartoon strip – one of the many reasons to buy The Guardian on a Friday. They've been running it since they went all JFK with the Berliner format last autumn, and it's genius. The strips are surreal and normally take a while to get but it's always worth it, even if you end up just laughing at the daftness of whatever alternate reality Nicholas Gurewitch has concocted this week.

This one's my favourite. It works on so many levels! I count at least four.

I posted the link to the (massive) archive above. Hell, I love the damn thing so much I'm going to save you the trouble of dragging your mouse to the other end of the page by giving you it again!

May 21, 2006

The Big Sleepover

Movie image
4 out of 5 stars

Don't you just hate it when you come up with a great idea for a film, only to find that someone's beaten you to it? It happened to me in February when I decided what film audiences needed was a mystery about a successful man whose life falls apart when someone who he wronged as a child starts taking revenge. Then I saw Hidden, and needless to say, for fear of being unoriginal I didn't take my idea any further.

A couple of months later, I decided I would write a contemporary film noir, and avoid parody by playing it completely straight, while at the same time getting laughs out of the witty dialogue. As if on cue, the film industry churns out exactly that, only – as far as I could see, given that it's set at an American highschool – better.

I was gutted, but naturally, as a fan of film noir, excited by this news, which is why I went to see Brick (for it is It) when it came out last weekend. The film's about Brendan (played by the kid out of Third Rock From The Sun) – the highschool loner who becomes an amateur private eye when his ex–girlfriend calls him in distress. His investigations are helped and hindered by femmes fatales, a nerdy informer, obnoxious goons and a drug dealer who lives with his mum; they take him to the highest echelons of his small Californian town's narcotics industry, and it all gets rather violent.

It's very daring to make a film like this, which transplants a genre defined by the 1930s and 40s into a modern setting so I give kudos to director Rian Johnson – grudgingly, as I'd have liked to take the glory for the feat myself some day. And for the most part it works. It's very entertaining. The dialogue is deliciously hardboiled and barely ever feels anachronistic. Brendan is very cool – the way he calmly puts his specs in their case whenever he senses a fistfight brewing, and his inspired method of dispatching a knifeman on his tail.

Two criticisms I've heard of it are the way the characters mumble so much and that the genre–typical plot is a bit obvious. I think these actually cancel each other out. I don't know what it is about the sound quality but I kept missing what they said. But this meant that it kept the plot complicated; if I could hear every line, maybe I wouldn't have had so many unanswered questions at the end.

The film is awesome but because they had to keep the whole noir atmosphere going some of it is a bit contrived. The good news is this lack of perfection means I haven't lost hope for my noir project.

May 04, 2006

When Sealife Attacks

This is the second film Noah Baumbach has written about marine biology, but unlike The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the role of the titular characters is small and merely symbolic. Dumb And Dumber's Jeff Daniels is surprisingly brilliant as a pompous academic, Bernard, whose writing career is in freefall, just as his wife Joan's is in the ascendant. This state of affairs, along with her affair, lead to an acrimonious divorce. Their sons, Walt and Frank, are stuck in the middle of it all and it is their plight on which the film focuses.

It is essentially a drama but it is very, very funny thanks to some great characterisation and performances. The humour is a lot like Life Aquatic, but the film is less surreal/quirky, so is probably more accessible. A highlight of this is Frank's bizarre erotic fixation with a magazine clipping of some indeterminate flesh. More realistic is the sub–plot of Walt's coming of age; his mishaps involving the opposite sex are spot–on. Unfortunately, my parents are happily married, so I can't comment on the accuracy of Baumbach's portrayal of divorce.

In addition to all that excellence, the fit Anna Paquin, of Rogue–out–of–X-Men fame, is in this as the object of both Bernard's and Walt's affections.

As it's an indie film and it's already been out for three weeks, chances are it's not on anywhere. But if you get the chance, go.

March 19, 2006

You know nothing of the Crunch

Two weekends ago I saw the Mighty Boosh in Glasgow with young Jake. And it was amazing. Five stars. They crowbarred in all the classic moments and characters from the TV show, as well as adding some nifty miming along to sound effects to the formula (the swordfight being particularly ace). There was a fair bit of corpsing too, which is never a bad thing. Can't wait for the DVD.

Then, on Thursday, they played Newcastle and there was an after show party at the Red Rooms, to which I naturally went. And, yes, I met them: Fielding, Barrett, Fulcher, and the other Fielding. Unlike young Han, I don't have any photographic evidence of this but I haven't washed my right hand since shaking theirs, in case you want to do any DNA testing. However, meeting your heroes really isn't all it's seemingly cracked up to be – you invariably make an arse of yourself. When meeting Julian "Business" Barrett, I felt like a self-conscious Nathan Barley meeting Dan "Preach" Ashcroft in similarly dingy club surroundings. Had I told him this at the time, instead of realising that I should've – in typical style – on the staircase, he might've liked it and not thought I was an arse. Ah well, there goes my pitch at Baby Cow Productions.

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