Alright, so this is the second half of day one. As accurately pointed out by a pedant after the first entry in my week-long boring-life experiment, it’s wiser to write a diary after the day in question rather than in the middle of the day that’s actually happening. I’ll get the hang of it just in time to stop.
Luckily, I took one more picture using my laptop, in the bar of the Curzon cinema in Soho, where I saw Norwegian Wood. (See how helpfully I have written my review of the film as a separate entry, so it’s easy to avoid.) To the left of my head you can actually see stills of Norwegian Wood, which they have put on the wall while the film is playing. Interestingly, one of the lights above my head was on the blink, and was flashing on and off while I sat there, waiting, giving the alcove a certain David Lynchean sense of unease. Two men came to fix it, and I was fascinated by the clear hierarchy that existed between them: the older man told the younger man what to do, while the younger man was up the stepladder. Which man would you rather be? I’d quite like to be the man up the stepladder, actually doing the thing, rather than the man at the bottom shouting out instructions.
Considering it was a lunchtime, there were quite a few cineastes in. Do cineastes tend also to be self-employed? Or just independently wealthy? I quite like going to the cinema on my own, when circumstances dictate it, especially to arthouse cinemas. It is a brief window of opportunity for fancying yourself. This is easier when you have a nice, neat new haircut.
When I arrived at 6 Music for day one of my five-day stint in Steve Lamacq’s chair and logged on to the BBC computer, I discovered that Caitlin Moran had caused a minor stir on Twitter by posting an old publicity photo from the set of C4’s early-90s youth TV show Naked City. She had published it on Facebook, so I couldn’t access it. I asked if someone clever could transfer it to Twitter. Caitlin couldn’t. A number of others could. So I re-publish it here:
For the record, left to right: Andrew Collins, Caitlin Moran, Johnny Vaughan, Stuart Maconie, Michael Smiley. We were the presenters of series two, in 1994. I have happy memories of that show. Stuart and I had somehow managed to launch ourselves as a double act on Radio One, and we signed up with a showbiz agent who doubled our money at Radio 1 and got us a slot on a TV show. It all happened very fast, and we were both still working at Q, where I held down a proper, nine-to-five day job, features editor. So it was a bit of mischief spending one afternoon a week in Battersea filming a youth TV show (in the first of the series, Mr C from the Shamen, Fish from Marillion and Tony Banks MP engaged in a joint-rolling competition, if I remember correctly). Stuart and I did a self-contained satirical look at music from a sofa on a gantry while disconsolate, bused-in teens shuffled around below us. We thought a long career in TV awaited us. It didn’t, really. Off the back of it, Johnny became one of the highest paid men in showbiz and eventually settled as Capital Radio’s breakfast DJ, Caitlin stuck to her calling, which was writing, and Smiley – whom we rarely met as he was the roving reporter – pursued acting, and must still be stopped in the street for being Tyres in Spaced. You will note that in the photograph I am wearing a S*M*A*S*H t-shirt. It was a prop. It wasn’t mine.
Tremendous fun doing Steve’s show, as it always is. Unlike, say, the breakfast show, or Nemone’s show, or Lauren’s, it’s much less formatted, and guests do not feature heavily. This is preferable if you’re filling in, as there’s less prep to do. Apart from speaking to a listener on the phone for Good Day, Bad Day, and the choreographical nightmare that is Roundtable on Thursday, it’s mostly about playing music and generating texts and emails, which are my favourite things. (Paul the producer has kindly parked the student radio feature, My New Favourite Band, and the thing with Robin Ince, as these are Steve’s. As luck would have it, I saw Robin for a very quick pint after the show, as he was downstairs at the Radio Comedy department with Michael Legge, working on their Edinburgh Fringe brochure copy, and he berated me for dropping his feature.)
The best thing about doing any show on 6 Music is the immediacy and creativity of the listener response. I asked for great songs written for the movies, and the feedback was enormous. I asked for suitable songs to go with a trivial news story for Steve’s long-running National Anthem feature, and the suggestions were wide-ranging and very clever. I mentioned playing Cud on Twitter beforehand, and all the Cud fans came out of the woodwork – and a member of Cud! – which just makes playing their Peel version of You Sexy Thing from June 1987 all the more pleasurable. There really is no place to work like 6 Music. I mentioned I was doing a week’s work there to my hairdresser, who is 22, and he clearly had no idea what I was talking about. That’s sobering. I mentioned its threatened closure and glorious reprieve and, again, a blank. You should never fool yourself that just because it’s in the Media Guardian, it’s in the whole wide world.
A pint after work? It’s unheard of. I actually rarely drink these days. Not through any sort of forced temperance like Richard Herring, just through a combination of lack of interest, fear of the ever-extending hangover and broader health paranoia in my mid-forties. When you are my age, booze and bad eating show very heavily on your body and face. You can’t get away with it any more. That said, I have a homing instinct for pubs, and the invitation from Robin and Michael to go for a quick one was actually impossible to resist. I stayed in the pub for a whole 20 minutes, then went home.
Nodded off during part two of this week’s Waking The Dead mystery, which might well be ironic.
Never did finish the extra scene I owe for Mr Blue Sky. And when I plugged my iPod into my laptop, iTunes failed to recognise it and it would not sync, so I had to reload all 8,800 or so songs. This took ages.
This diary is proving popular. I get between 500 and 1,500 visits a day to this blog. It usually settles around the 750 mark, even if I haven’t posted anything new. It spikes when I post something. It shot up past 1,500 for a couple of days recently when, not coincidentally, I wrote about the return of Adam and Joe. And it went up to those dizzy heights again yesterday. Don’t expect me to keep this up. I woke, on the morning of Day Two, in one of my regular panics that I won’t be able to get done everything I need to get done this week. The work is closing in on me. I’ll do my best.