His name is Lukas

I really like Maximo Park’s keyboard player, Lukas Wooller, partly because he reminds me of my friend Adam Smith, but mostly because of his crazy, robotic, air-chopping stagecraft. I borrowed this pic from their official website and was taken by Josef Massinger in Munich.

I would post a picture of Arctic Monkeys from last night (you can usually rely on a fan to stick some photos up), but the band’s official forum is becoming impenetrable, as you will see, with multiple threads and, frankly, too many users. Hint: don’t try and get on there during school hours.


Tea Point

Every day is a day at the office. This is our office. It is on Oxford Street, which makes it very handy for sandwich shops and Cockneys wearing headset microphones selling what looks like genuine top-brand perfume. Lee usually comes in on his motorbike, unless – as today – he is doing a gig out of town, in which case he drives here in his car. Tonight’s gig was in Runcorn.

The office space itself is not much to write home about (which is ironic, as I am literally writing home about it now). It is a room with two desks, one computer, two filing cabinets (unused) and a sort of shelf unit, which Lee lies on for inspiration. There is a window which, thankfully, opens, as it is very hot and stuffy. Although we have turned the radiator off, there is still a pipe running through the room which stays boiling hot. There is a kitchenette, where we might bump into Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade out of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, who are writing a new series for Channel 4 and have an even tighter deadline than us. However, they laugh a lot at what they’ve written and it carries, dispiritingly, through the wall. It’s nice to be able to compare notes with other comedy writers. We told them one joke we’d written and they told us one they’d written. It’s a bonding thing. (We joke that this building is like a rubbish version of the old Victorian townhouse where Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan and Galton & Simpson used to write.)

The kitchenette is not a kitchenette. It is called a Tea Point.

Yesterday, I counted it up, Lee and I wrote 901 words. Today, we wrote 704, but that meant we finished the last-but-one scene of Episode 4 (which might turn out to be Episode 5 or even 6). It was hard, but we’re pleased with the results.

Tonight, Richard Ayoade was in The IT Crowd, which I love. But I’ll be at the Arctic Monkeys gig instead, which I will review later. I am still at the office as I write this, but I did go for a walk at 3 o’clock to get some Vitamin D – by which I mean soak up some sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in food and can also be made in your body after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Sunshine is a significant source of vitamin D because UV rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

The last night of the NME Awards Tour at Brixton Academy. We were there on the first night, in Dublin, and caught it again in Sheffield, so it seemed only fitting to see it off at the biggest venue on the tour. Sold out, although when we arrived at 7.30 (just in time to miss the Mystery Jets, who you only need to see once in a lifetime), it was actually possible to get to the bar. Don’t know why. We selected a spot halfway down the ramped auditorium, in front of the mixing desk, and could see perfectly for We Are Scientists, who I find pretty average on record, but who come alive on stage. They are the geekiest men on earth, but make a big sound for a trio, and the singles are good. (Isn’t that the way with so many of today’s feted bands?) Clearly, there was a surge when Arctic Monkeys took the stage at about 8.45, and it was harder to see. Plus, the beer started flying in earnest.

Throwing Beer At Gigs: What I Think
I think it is dimwitted and antisocial. I’ve noticed this phenomenon coming in at gigs, although not – of recent gigs attended in London – at Belle & Sebastian (audience too polite) or Bauhaus (audience too old). It seems to be young, beery men who think it original and clever to cast their half-empty plastic pint pots into the crowd, showering all and sundry with sticky liquid. It must be annoying for those with mobile phones and cameras outstretched (which is . . . let me check . . . almost everybody). Worst, it is a waste of beer. If these young idiots don’t want it, you could collect it up and give it to tramps, who would really appreciate it. I got covered in beer at the Octagon in Sheffield, but stayed dry tonight due to our position. I shall still have to wash all my clothes as they now stink of fags. Roll on the great day in 2007.

Alex Turner was clearly pissed. He sang all the words, but repeated himself and muttered between songs, and looked positively dazed during finale A Certain Romance, when Mystery Jets and assorted Scientists joined them onstage for demob larks. The Monkeys played well, and the “new song” (debuted in Dublin) Leave Before The Lights Come On is shaping up really nicely. But due to the size of the venue, not everybody knew all the words, reducing the usual singalong magic. (I’ve been into the band since they first went to number one – yes, as far back as that – but not everybody was so quick off the mark. Some only got into them the second time they went to number one. Part-timers and Johnny-come-latelys.)

Maximo Park were, once again, the best entertainers on the bill. They put so much into their set, from Paul Smith’s scissor kicks to the strange chopping gestures of the keyboard player, and were worthy headliners, even though I prefer the Monkeys’ songs. There’s no comparison in terms of stagecraft, and yet there was still an element of electrictiy missing. Arctic Monkeys create a stir. Maximo Park entertain the troops.

Paul Smith: he works out.

On points, then: best gig of the tour, Dublin. I still can’t believe I am comparing dates on an NME tour.

Broken Heel

Thursday morning, before breakfast, my best time. It is two days after Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s night, I watched In Her Shoes, a romantic chick flick that looked appalling in the trailer but turned out, under the directorship of Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, 8 Mile etc.) to be quite sound. I hate to think of films being aimed at a specific gender anyway. Toni Colette played the ugly duckling character (hair scraped back, boring job – gasp! – glasses) and Cameron Diaz her ditzy party-girl sister. Yes, they learned lessons about themselves along the way, but at least their problems weren’t solved by meeting a Prince Charming each. In fact, Diaz’s problems (dyslexia, mainly) were solved by an old man in a Florida rest home. So there.

The Radio 4 programme I present called Banter is on tonight. My hair has reached an unmanageable length. I am very tired. Last night I was too tired even to watch Shameless or part two of Lefties. After an hour and a half of Dermot O’Leary backstage at the Brits on Radio 2 (which brought flashbacks of when Stuart and I did the same gig for two years’ running for Radio 1, as implausible as that now seems), I put my sore head on the pillow.

I am seeing two comedians. I’m currently working in an office in Central London with Lee Mack all day. We usually finish up around 3 or 4. However, when he’d gone home last night, I saw Simon Day. As one left the building, another one entered. It’s like a Whitehall farce.

Very good piece by Stewart Lee in today’s G2 about taking Jerry Springer on the road. I think you might have to register to read it in full, but it’s here.

Good if sometimes demanding day at the office with Lee. We wrote half a scene. If that doesn’t sound like much, a) fuck off, and b) it is. We sculpted those words. We slaved over each one until we were happy with it. Also, it’s a long scene, and it’s the climactic one in Episode 4, so it’s important we get it right.

I had one of those embarrassing moments where I was walking towards somebody I was pretty sure I knew, but couldn’t quite place. He looked at me and clearly thought the same thing, but as we passed, neither of us acknowledged the other with a smile or a wave. We just kept on walking. It was only when he’d passed that I placed the face as Gareth, genial director of the pilot episode of me and Lee’s sitcom, Not Going Out. I felt such a twat. Maybe he only recognised me afterwards too. You meet so many people.

I also saw a young man being wrestled to the ground by two other men, who looked like security guards, albeit in fairly casual uniform of jumpers. I expect the other man had stolen something, unless they were the least discreet muggers in Central London. This provided a good spectacle for the people on Oxford Street, who stood and stared.

I saw a dead blackbird on the way to the station this morning, in the middle of the road. I know I should pull myself together, but it broke my heart. I keep thinking of his poor wife.

Let’s do it

Right. Anticipation has a habit to set you up for disappointment. So, without too much fanfare, Where Did It All Go Right? gets a new blog. For those who wish to read the archive of the online diary I wrote for 6 Music last year (April-December 2005) go here. This is a fresh start. The drawback with the 6 Music diary was that a) the BBC had to stress at the end of each entry that my views were not necessarily those of the corporation’s – which of course they’re not – and b) I had no access to it. I just delivered the words once a week and they were added to the site by someone with the accreditation and software to get under the bonnet. I became a passive observer of my own blog, unable without a palaver to go back in and tweak things. Or indeed to add a two-line ponder on a Tuesday evening about Larry David or coal tits.

This will work like a proper blog. I make no promises, having rested the previous one because I was too busy writing a sitcom (deadline May 2006) and a book (deadline July 2006) to give it my full weekly attention, but with the freedom to jot down thoughts any time I like, there’s hope.

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