Here I am again, “shifty”, as reader Kiki observed below of these diary photos. Yes, I certainly feel shifty when I take them of myself in public. I’m at 6 Music in this one, in the main office. You can see some furniture, a pot plant, desks and a framed, blue 6 Music logo behind me. Day two continued with a packed lunch at my desk. It’s not “my” desk, it’s the “Presenter Hotdesk,” which means, when you’re filling in for Steve, you find that Nemone has left her coat over the back of the chair, as if perhaps she’s a holidaymaker reserving a deckchair. I put my coats over her coat. I like to come into the office at least an hour before going on the air – although today I came in two hours before as the library had started to stifle me. In this regard, I am dissimilar to other presenters, especially Steve himself, who prefers to rock up moments before 4pm. That’s the kind of insouciant professional that he is. I like to decompress, and use the printer, and have my packed lunch at the desk.
This is my recession-beating plan: on a Sunday I cook up a huge cauldron of something like chilli, or a pasta concoction, maybe even a lasagne if I’m in sauce-making mode. This I then decant into a Tupperware tub for the next five working days, so that wherever I find myself on my self-employed travels, I can eat lunch without giving money to anyone. It’s a fabulously controlled, cost-effective and fun way of life. Like being a schoolboy again, except with much better food. I usually carry the tub, an apple, a bag of mixed nuts and mixed dried fruit, a boiled egg, and a pot of yogurt, often accompanied by a small clingfilm parcel of soft fruit, such as blueberries or strawberries. This keeps me going all day, if I carefully dispense it at intervals. (I often eat the nuts on the journey home, to keep my protein levels up when they are dipping.) Can you imagine how much money I save by not buying expensive readymade sandwiches and ready-packaged tubs of fresh fruit and croissants and pastries? £££££££££££s every day! And I know what I’m eating.
Since it’s in the public domain, I guess I am allowed to say that it was my friend Billy Bragg’s mum who has died. (I found out from his website.) He’s had to cancel a US tour because of it, and nobody in the US would deny him the time to grieve. I met his mum, Marie, on a few occasions while writing my Billy Bragg biography, and afterwards at Bragg family events. She went through a load of Billy’s stuff with us in her front room in Barking and was always funny and honest about her feelings. A key contributor to the book which Billy wanted to be definitive, she was a formidable lady, and my thoughts are with Billy and his family.
Because I have “product” available through Go Faster Stripe, I have access under the bonnet of the website and can see how many of the C&H CDs and my audiobook and now DVD have sold. This is potentially dangerous, especially when something has just been released, such as Secret Dancing, as you can become obsessed in the same way that you can become obsessed by ticket sales when the website shows a seating plan. I won’t reveal the figures, but I will say a big thank you to all who have ordered it so far. It’s only been out for a few days and already it’s selling well. This is so gratifying and flattering. I hope those of you who have received it – and I know how efficient the service is – enjoyed it. It’s available here.
Another enjoyable show between 4-7pm on 6 Music. Because of the way we are arranged, there is only one fully live studio (the other two are for pre-records), and this means “handovers” are not conducted through the glass, as is traditional, but on the hoof. In some ways, this is a symbol of 6 Music: the incumbent DJ packing up his or her things and vacating, while the incoming DJ arrives and unpacks theirs, all the while exchanging pleasantries and banter. Nemone, who precedes me, is of course winding down to vacating her slot full-time – to Radcliffe and Maconie – before moving to weekend breakfast, so these will be my last available handovers with her in this current “life” of 6 Music. (When she arrives in Jo Good’s slot on Saturday mornings, I will have vacated.) Anyway, due to a conversation about Andy Cole the footballer which I hadn’t been party to, Nemone and her team were discussing the distinction between Andrew and Andy (apparently Cole is trying to re-establish himself as an Andrew – if you follow football, you’ll know this). I explained that I had been Andrew from the age of nought to around the age of 13 when I became self-conscious and switched to Andy. Nemone asked when I’d changed and I said, “When I became a man,” jokingly. She probed further: “When did you become a man.” Rather crudely, and because this was all taking place off-air, I provided further, biological clarification as to when, for a teenage boy, that might have been. I regretted the crudity of the reference, but I think I got away with it in mixed and mostly female company. It’s the sort of thing Richard Herring would say, and just about get away with. I said it for shock value. It’s a weird thing, the handover. So little time to say anything meaningful.
The handover at 7pm to Manchester does not really exist. Your producer, in my case Paul, calls the control room and gets them to switch “the network” from London to Manchester, and the studio in London is left for Gideon to take back at 10pm. This makes the vacation of the studio at 7pm rather quiet and low key, and perhaps even a little melancholy. You leave the studio empty. But we had fun in it for three hours.
Tired again in the evening, back home in front of the telly, but I managed to stay awake for part two of Nuremberg, a 2000 TV miniseries recorded from an obscure movie channel starring Alec Baldwin and Brian Cox, which I thoroughly enjoyed, except when the writer felt the need, or obligation, to put in a little love affair between Baldwin’s prosecutor and his female cohort. Whether this really happened at the Nuremberg trials in 1945-46, I don’t know. I certainly don’t care. I’m now in the market for a book about Nuremberg. As if I need another one on the pile.