Friday, 2 March 2012

2 March 2012. Letter 90

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington 2/3/12. Amount of my day wasted: nine minutes.

Mark! Sue! What’s up pussycats? What’s moving, groovers? What’s shakin’, Daddios?

Are you cool? Are we cool? Is everything feeling groovy?

I do hope so, Mark! Oh, Sue, let it be so! Let us still be cool; say we’re still groovy. Make it be the case that age has not withered us nor custom stifled our infinite variety of grooviness! I’d be gutted, Mark. I’d be sick as the proverbial, Sue.

What am I talking about? I have no idea! I’m almost delirious with tiredness today, Mark. I’m sitting on a train that would appear to be progressing London-wards far slower than it should do… and I’m tired. Oh boy, I’m tired. Oh Lordy, the troubles I’ve had! Oh Lordy, my troubles so hard!

(That reminds me of a funny anecdote. Would you like to hear a funny anecdote, Mark? Sue, you’ll like this one: it’s a funny anecdote about communication. What’s that? You would? Great!

So: that “Oh Lordy” stuff above – as you will of course have immediately picked up – is a reference to a song by shiny-headed techno oddbod Moby, as featured on his bazillion-selling 1999 album, Play. Which was famous, as I’m sure you’ll remember, for its extensive use of sampling of old blues tracks throughout.

Some, in fact, considered the album to be little more than a cut-and-paste job of pinched blues numbers with a bit of drum machine noodling chucked on top. I was not one of them, however. I actually thought it was rather clever. And I was right too: because back in 1999 when Play was released, I was the rock and pop editor of the Sunday Express and my word on all things musical was basically law and fact.

Anyway. As rock and pop editor of the Sunday Express and therefore middle England’s foremost authority on the racket that the kids called popular music back then, I sorted myself out with an interview with old Moby. A spread was duly cleared for the weekend’s paper, sub-editors were put on standby, a whole picture desk mobilised to make sure that the visuals did justice to the sparkling insights I would tease out of the cueball-noggined electro-doodler.

Sue: it was the only interview I’ve ever done where my interview subject actually walked out on me.

Moby: he upped and offed! Right at the beginning too! And all because I made a joke! All I’d done was suggest that, rather than bother taking the time to actually talk to him, try to find something original in what he had to say and then sweat over my keyboard pushing out 1,500 words of sparkling new prose, I could take inspiration from his musical technique and simply nick the best bits of other people’s interviews, bosh them all together on the page and claim it as my own.

Mark, it was a joke! He was supposed to laugh!

Moby didn’t laugh, Mark. Moby didn’t think it very funny at all. Moby walked away and I never heard from Moby again. And my editor wasn’t best pleased either. We had a couple pages of the paper to fill last minute. I think we ran something on Atomic Kitten instead. Ah, those were the days!)

Anyway. Sorry. Bit distracted there. What was I saying? Oh yes! Oh Lordy, the troubles I’ve had!

I’m tired today, Mark and Sue! Je suis tres fatigue, meine petite bambini! I’m still recovering from Wednesday night’s press night – I didn’t get home until gone 11. Worse: I didn’t get home until gone 11 and I was sober. I hate it when that happens! I didn’t get home until gone 11, I was sober, we’d just lost at the footy to a bunch of tulip-fanciers and worst of all, Davy Jones of the Monkees had died.

Mark! It’s Friday now and I’m still upset that Davy Jones has died.

One thing you should know about me. After 90 letters, around 90,000 words and well over 24 hours of delays, one thing you should know above all else: I love the Monkees. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Monkees? I love those Monkees! They were a Great Band (my caps). I’m not even joking. The Monkees? Most underrated band of the sixties.

Last Train to Clarksville? Cleverest Vietnam protest song you’ll ever hear. Full stop. And don’t even get me started on A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You. Proper genius. It’s so good I’m amazed Moby never sampled it, to be honest.

And most importantly of all: Davy Jones was a Mancunian – thus proving my theory that every single important band since the Beatles has basically come out of Manchester. (A theory that is so watertight that it even includes The Bee Gees and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.)

Ah, the Monkees, Sue. They’ve made millions happy, and now they’ve made me sad.

And so today, I’m tired. I’m tired and I’m sad. And like the old saying goes: fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son. And nor is tired, sad and obsessed with ludicrous theories about Mancunian pop music makers.

But no matter! Chin up! It’s Friday! And we’ve reached our ninetieth letter! That leaves us with three weeks to make 100. Thirty journeys. Can you do it, Mark? Can you average better than one delay every three journeys?

Once more unto the beach! (As William the Conqueror said at the battle of Iwo Jima.) Let us raise our tired heads and steel ourselves for one last Herculean effort! To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield, Mark! It’s what Davy would have wanted!

Au revoir!


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