Oh Dear Diary, Or Am I Unwell by Alex James
OH DEAR DIARY, OR AM I UNWELL BY ALEX JAMES, AGE 26 I can see no further than this music. -Plato WEDNESDAY It's Wednesday again. Hooray. It's down to Radio 1 and I'm trying to think of things to say to the listeners, but the taxi's not here and I look like a potato. I get in a taxi and say some 'oms' but I've got the later fear and the potato fear, and they've started without me. Going on the radio is like talking to a nice girl you know; you think of perfect things to say and things to talk about but you can't premeditate love or the media. Damon goes off to meet some important people and I go to Tesco's. Tesco Disco Metro. Hooray. Get a trolley full. I'm with the Proper Girls. It's 6pm. I like listening to them talk. They make each other giggle. Get some ice from downstairs and shake up some White Russians. Toss the Mars/Freud coin and Mars it is. Stephen Duffy's walking up Endell Street and we say, 'Hooray, it's Wednesday! Just the one then!' Mars is full of Campari slickers so we take the Freud path to enlightenment. Plummy Tim Porter's in there and Big Charlie Myatt. Decide to go to Bath Spa for the weekend as Duffy's got a studio booked there. Damon arrives from his secret meeting with the Government and we adjourn to his exclusive drinking club. If he goes to pubs, the poor lad just gets arseholes asking him when the next album's coming out or whether he really is a sex flop. I bask under a veil of relative anonymity which is fine. Damon's club, The House is very understanding. They do things like goat's cheese 'en croute' and it's full of Eastenders' cast and Cassandra from Only Fools And Horses. Chris, our accommodating host, sorts us out with a comfortable white Burgundy and our favourite table. Nobody asks Damon when the album's out because no one cares. Phone Phil 'Dirty' Daniels at the Vaudeville and arrange to meet him in his new pub, which is the nearest one to the theatre. When we arrive, the Americans are coming out of Sunset Boulevard- the worst sort of expensive, fat, Americans who, like expensive, fat wine, don't travel well. We ask them for spare change or shout 'Park Life!' and have some beer. Emma and Justine are playing the fruit machine and drinking all the brandy. Then it's the Ed Wood Party in a prison in SE1. Film parties are usually the most amusing but this one was up its arse; men in dresses and no vol-au-vents or dry martinis. Boo. Walked over Tower Bridge and got a taxi back to Mars. Had some huge brandy. Said some lewd things. Went home with the girls. THURSDAY Michael 'Sounds Great' Smith, my marvellous apologising publisher, is taking us out for breakfast. It's very early and my hangover likes me. We go to Blacks. Salubrious Blacks. Hogarth prints, panelled walls and always some berk talking about finance on the next table. We have giggly, raspberry-blowing hangovers and the cherry juice is too high-faluting for us. We say 'Cherrehs' and 'Hippehas' and 'Arsnewl'. The scrambled eggs are a bit scary Mary, a runny, stingy business, but necessary. Mike goes off to work and the sun shines on Old Compton Street. It's going to be a day of contemptible, bone-idle boozing. Hoorah! The girls go off for some ackers and I take the hangover for a drink. A Bloody Mary. A naughty, delicious, morning, irresponsible BM. We go to Mars to find out what we were doing last night. They put the Squeeze album on for us. 'I feel like I've got no lips and no eyes,' says the Ems. 'Put your shades on and put your lippy on,' says Jus. Get some cheese puffs from Tesco Disco and stumble into the 'Theatrical' Salisbury on St. Martin's Lane. Then we remember John Virgo's snooker challenge in The Crown, Seven Dials, and floss up there. Cheers. Virgo's trick shot. The suits have gone, everyone is at work. We are drinking in the West End. The grown-ups' playground. We are children again. We squabble and we snigger and we want some more sweeties. Go back to check the Freud temperature, which is sub-zero, cryogenic, no fun. Go home to play cards and listen to The Bee Gees. The Mackey phones, Pulp's midweek's Two so we invent a new cocktail called a Brandy Alexbanana and play the 'shithead' game. Phone Streetie and invite him for mashed potatoes. He's busy with Chrissie Kissy Hynde but will come at seven. We're a bit funny when he arrives, a bit pickled, sloshed, in our cups, under the table, but the potato is a 'triumph, deeply moving.' Andy and Helen and Damon arrive and we go back to the John Virgo game. Someone asks Damon when the album's coming out, so we have to go back to The House. FRIDAY 'I've only had a couple of c---s, drinkstable.' I have a one-dimensional life. I have a nasty lump on my right forefinger. Oh dear, it's the analytical, not very friendly hangover. I even dreamt about the music business. Up early for the photos that are on this issue's cover. The EMI cab has 30 quids' worth of arsing about in Notting Hill on the meter when Damon arrived. Polaroid. Click. Polaroid. Click. Click. One more roll. Cheers. The next taxi driver has 'got that Blur in the back of 'is cab' and goes on about an old guffer jazzwanker that could 'old a tune in a bucket. Go to the NME office on the 25th floor and get jolly listening to Rod Stewart. Eat some goats cheese crap in the Mars and go to the football party at the Atlantic. Thought I'd better put in an appearance at the 'I can do anything' club. Talked about Twiglets at length. The only things that taste like Twiglets are Marmite and stilton. Gin martinis mate, rocket fuel. I see Russell 'I've Given Up Drinking' Barrett has given up drinking. Told everyone I've started writing a joke and exploded. SATURDAY Hangover: n. The delayed after effects of drinking too much alcohol. Intense fear. The fear, the fear. The crapulent abyss, the chasm of the delayed after effects. Well, we were showing off a bit. Oh, but the fear, the sweaty nose, the nausea, the sky may crack, the legs aren't there. Grim. This is a bad hangover, and anxious one, and it wants to get its mates and go drinking right now. The flat is a good metaphor for my head. Wednesday's mashed potatoes gone brown and lemons everywhere. I don't think anyone likes me. I certainly don't. We're going to Bath, Britain's poshest city, to make B-sides with old chum Stephen Duffy. Have to get the Jif Lemon out as the pares are staying in the flat for the weekend. Oooh and hide the offensive Damien Hirst drawing, bleach the bog, all that stuff. Stir up some Bloody Mary's for the journey- vodka, lemon juice, tabasco, Worcester, sherry, pepper in the thermos. Cheers, mates. We've run out of pants. Have to get some in Bath. Leave the keys in Freuds. Ben 'Ha Ha' Wardle is driving Jus and I down in his Dog Man Star. It's one of those days when it takes an hour to get to Hammersmith. Can't get anywhere with the bumper hank holiday crozzer either, apart from 63 across, which is 'nosegay.' Have a Bloody Mary, put the new album on and cheer up briefly. Then get a headache trying to play cards. Go past Stonehenge. Who does its press? It's small. Actually, it's worth mentioning, as its name-droppers week, that meeting famous people is about as easy as seeing Stonehenge, if you're determined... but they too are often smaller than you'd expected. A lot of fear miles later, we land in Beckington, Wool Hall Studios. Residential studios. Cheers, mates. A nice lady gives you chocolate cake and a cup of tea. Snooker, videos, library, log fires, proper! Monsieur Le Duffy, ladies and gentlemen, is feeling fine. A refined, resigned sage of a gentleman. We have to go to Bath to pick up bald Macdonald, out favourite photographer, and the pants and ginger beer. The nice lady cooks you dinner as well- it's all a bit Famous Fivey when the homemade strawberry ice-cream cones come out. Beckingham's got one pub. It's called the Woolpack and known to us as the Fudgepack. In there we played the popular making up band names game. Geezer was the best one. Now everyone's a little boisterous. The Hub Club looks like the best bet in snotty, snobby Bath, as there's some dreadful-sounding roots reggae or other in the Moles. 'E' still seems to be popular in the provinces, as are shagging, drinking and dancing. I bump into a clown that I know. He's down pretending to be a cherub in the Bath Festival. He always smokes my fags. A nice man offers us a lift and collapses so we cab it back. Taxi drivers, God bless 'em- the pulse of the city. Send Ben round to Real World to get Menswear to see if they want to play Scrabble but they are all tucked up in beddy-byes. A lot of Armagnac is sipped and the trivial pursuit gets ridiculous. 'Luftwaffe' is now a joke and is being told quite a lot. I find an enormous loudspeaker of cheese in the fridge and some of the local crackers. I think I am playing 'Blue Moon' on the piano when the sun rises. SUNDAY A fantastic slow-motion crispy vocabulary-enhancing hangover. Hoorah! Fortune flops me an ace. Find a great book called Freaks and Marvels of the Insect World which absorbs me over my Marmite on toast. I had a dream about venus flytraps last night. There was one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom and they ate all the flies. There is an impossibly flash-looking health club in Monkton Coombe so we give 'em a tinkle. A swim and a sauna is the second best hangover cure. It's halfway up a hill and very splendid apart from the screaming kinds and the dreadful 80's aspect of the interior. Ben and I have no trunks and we don't fancy the lost property so we have to pants it. Play snooker all afternoon and table tennis as old Duffer is mixing another track. Nice lady makes us cauliflower cheese and roasties. My desert island dinner. The pears with fudge sauce establish fudge as a joke as funny as 'Luftwaffe.' Bash the song out after supper. It's called 'Tempus Fugit' which is Latin for time flies. B-sides can have Latin names. Play Scrabble with the girls and Donald and the cheese came out again. Watch Performance with the volume turned down. Don't like the business with the paint, get the horn in the bit where Mick's getting his nose licked, though. Take the insect book to bed. BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY Get up very early. Have to be in Putney at 12:30pm for a rehearsal with my famous mates. Have a good run back listening to the local radio stations with their phone-ins and handy hints. My one-dimensional studio-to-studio existence continues. Dave is making some tea and I say, 'Oh, cheers Dave, cuppa?' and the moron asks me if I take sugar. For goodness sake, he doesn't know! I've spent six years blah blah blah and he doesn't know. Unbelievable! Go and get an ice-cream with my silly hat on. Graham's very quiet. The horn section isn't coming after all. They've all got perfect pitch and perfect timing and don't need to. Damon's got a keyboard that makes funny squelching noises and we amuse ourselves playing 'Pick Up The Pieces' with sarcastic squelches and muso expressions. Do a Tesco and come home to watch the Bond. Mother has scrubbed everything, even the wok, and all the gin's gone. Hooray. Dr. No mate, what a hammy load of crap. Deep fry some camembert in the clean wok and eat it with jam. Cheers. Pop down to Out Price for Joe Jackson's 'Greatest Hits' as I've been singing 'Different For Girls' all week. Go to bed for 14 hours and dream I'm a fish. TUESDAY Where have Richard & Judy gone? I'm not sure about these two. It looks like rain. I see there's another shite book out about us. Que faire uh? Michael comes round for some coffees. We're doing the Late Show so it's down to TV Centre, Wood Lane, W12 8QT. Hyde Park smells a bit manurey. It's great at the BBC. Cheese sandwiches are 32p and you get five balls on the Indiana Jones. Play a bit of Black Maria/Scabby Haggy/Hunt the C--- with Dave and Laura, our keyboard player. I don't think the brass section can dig my sarcastic bass playing on 'Country House.' Have a couple with Wimpy, the resources manager, in the BBC club and cab it home with Graham. Emma and Jus are drinking tea. Make Bloody Marys by the TJ's on the turn- ergh! Go down to the NME photo exhibition and drink free beer for a good cause. Old fatty Cummings is looking very pleased with himself. Somebody pays 250 pounds for that photo of us dressed up as Blondie. All the usual mates are here, naturlich. The hipperati, the swingers... ooh, I could name names, but it would be dull. Find Jo, who I haven't seen for ages. Graham and I lived with her brother. He went to New Orleans with a hammock and he hasn't come back. She's mad. She bites people. She's dead good-looking. Round to the Mars. Duffy's having his birthday there. Even Dave's come out. It's all a bit lively. We're on the monster gin. Probably should have eaten. Someone suggests a game of earsy-kneesy-nosey, but we've got to go to Stringfellow's to check out this silly cocktail band, the Mike Flowers Pops Orchestra. In the past, Mr Stringfellow has made defamatory character references in writing several of the tabloids, but we've all passed a lot of water since then and it's always better to be friends, kids. He's drinking VAT's so we join each other, briefly. It's very dark and Dunhill International and you have to shout rather than chat. I think it's good when you're beery drunk because of all the big bosoms but it's not really a monster gin drunk place. The band leader is wearing a good wig and they sound like the school orchestra. The Daniels arrives with a raised eyebrow, but I leave when Jo bites the photographer. The Mars bar is still rocking. Russell 'Superman' Barrett is drinking again. Mars is full of Camden and Julian the 'funny ha ha' barman has got a bag on. He doesn't get 'Luftwaffe' either. No they have no Luftwaffe beer and no fudge vodka. Go into the kitchen to look at Adam's ladles. I've been having problems with my cheese sauce splitting in the oven and he says I should boil for longer and make sure the cauli's well drained. He is a Dodgy fan. Bounce home to find some chips in the wok and collapse. WEDNESDAY Nice to see R&J are back. Watch The Herb Garden as well. Sage is having singing lessons. I love Lady Rosemary's 'I am Lady Rosemary, I'm very tall and willowy.' There is a lot of nocturnal answerphone activity. Mainly Graham singing 'Diddy-diddy-didn't-did.' Go down the laundry for some Mike Leigh-type action. The Cross Keys is the laundry pun, but it's a bit funny handshake and I don't fancy it. Go to Bodum and get a posh new cafetiere as the cheeseboard fell on the old one. Buy some flowers as well- glad and lily of the smelly. I don't mind doing the laundry. Actually, it's zen rich and wholesome. Jilly Cooper walks past. She probably has service washes or dry cleans. Make a sort of a parsnip thing that Justine laughs at. Go downstairs for a quick marguerita while Jus gets ready. I'm off my Long Island Iced Teas with OJ at the moment which is a shame as they make you very bold and daring. Matthew 'Daddy' Longfellow, who directed top rockumentary Starshaped, is having triangular sandwiches and olives affair upstairs at the Windmill, Mill Street. Film parties are always the best- bullshitteramas, castles in Spain mate, ridiculous 'I'll get my people to talk to your people,' breakfast, on-line, off-line, 'deadline' and they all shag their secretaries, God bless 'em. Kiss everybody and cab down to the Africa Centre to watch Heavy Stereo who are just Whirlpool without the fat one. The music business supreme high court is already there. McGees and Lamacqs and Rosses and Reids ad infinitum. I have some horrible fizzy beer and go outside to be sick. Someone follows me and asks for my autograph. The band are late on and we have to dive off to the, erm, Mars bar as Pulp are having their 'Hooray, we're Number Two' party. Nice to meet Big Chris Thomas, the real Sid Vicious. Drink all the Mars bar vodka and start on the Toblerone. The entire music business descends and pretends to like each other. Andy Rossage calls it the Good Mixer Syndrome. It used to be just me and Russell and then Blur sold a million and Russ left Chapterhouse to concentrate on his drinking. He's an expert and the Mars is popular. Phone Uncle Jake at Browns, to ask if it is OK to bring 100 people down. He's very reasonable and helpful. The big chap on the door is also extremely affable, You can tell how sophisticated a place is generally by how far they tolerate states of extreme drunkenness, provided it's not violent or aggressive. In Bournemouth they don't sell tequila as everyone wants a fight. In Canada they sell you two beers and kick you out for being drunk. But the person next to you in Browns is probably a boxer so you just don't anyway. Have a few beers and talk utter gobshite with Steve Mackey, my favourite bassist, and stumble home with the proper girls. Put the Kylie Minogue on and get the phone book out. Phone everyone. 'Morning schmorning!' we scream down people's asnwerphones. Play the entire Oasis album down the Albarn's and much worse probably. Pink gin, white Russian and ruby red Margaux. You only live once. Get drunk, be a tart, enjoy ourself. The end.