It’s hot tea inside, gunship grey outside, winter’s snapping and the ludicrous Parka I brought back from a freezing Chicago now doesn’t seem quite so stupid. I actually got coat envy on my local train platform the other morning, as the masses (including the tiniest member of the Random House staff who’s a neighbour) huddled under the awning by the ticket office I strode past with Eye Of The Tiger (“It’s the thrill of the fight… and he’s watching us all with eyeeeeeeee of the tiger!”) thumping in my head and made my way to my spot on the platform. You could feel them all bristle, the green eyed monster clinging to their backs. Sad to say I really do have a spot on the platform, there’s a white painted arrow there where the doors always open welcomingly up, I think the rail network god put it there so I don’t eventually go postal on my commute into work, I think we can all agree that it’s some kind of sign.
Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t all show up here to listen to tales of my wonderful, dreamy, cocoon like Parka coat of an indeterminate colour, you came to hear about the book or the Perfect Ten or why I haven’t had my hair cut in months. Okay, maybe not the haircut, though I could really do with one. Anyway, Cross Country Murder Song, three things have happened, was it three? The first two editors at Random House in the USA have turned it down, one said the voice wasn’t authentic, the other that they didn’t like the structure. It has a structure more complex than the Gordian Knot so I imagine it might have confused someone used to poring over the work of American authors and their linear plots all day long. I kid, though almost all the American writers I like are dead, sadly. I worried about capturing the American voice so I sent it to Serge from Marah (never heard of them? Hang your fucking head in shame), who’s now a full time dad so he has lots of time to read. He never questioned the voice, I mention this as he’s incredibly well read and happens to have been born in the land of the free. He loved it, he gave me quite the critique, I’m happy to report that it was glowing. He also has a very good blog: http://www.thunderpie.net/
It went off to a few other musicians too, James from the Manics picked up a copy from the office that was originally meant for Nicky Wire. I mention this as I think some people think that all Welsh writers and musicians live in a big house on a windswept hill dotted with sheep in Carmarthen. We don’t, I’ve never even been to Carmarthen. I know Wire, I’ve met James sparingly, he’s quiet in that Welsh way that I’m not; he observes mostly mutely, is succinct in his summations, he also wrote a brilliant solo album and the melody for A Design For Life. I can barely whistle or play a recorder at schoolboy level and I’m rarely quiet. An aside: backstage at the Royal Festival Hall, me and the Manics and their agent and PR, champagne and Grey Goose vodka, ask me if you see me. No one was mute that night. I digress… James finished the novel and I asked if he might give me a quote for the cover/press release as Nicky had done. It went quiet (I assume he was observing mutely, see above) and I gave up on the idea and then James called me. To say he was effusive is to understate the point, but he used phrases like, “best book I’ve read this year” and gave me a wonderful, well thought out quote (he admitted he’d struggled with it) for the cover. Being Welsh, I couldn’t thank him enough so we both buttoned our emotions down and talked about how badly the Welsh team did in the autumn internationals and how things were progressing on the next MSP album and all was alright with the world.
Then on Monday, just as I was about to go and watch the very impressive Marillion in the equally impressive surroundings of Cadogan Hall, Willie Dowling called. He’s in a very good band called Jackdaw 4, he was in a handful of other equally good bands; Honeycrack, The Grip, Cat People… Willie, and this might be why we’re friends, is about as impressed with the world and its people as I am, ie, not at all. He writes music for TV and films now and plays live with his band about as often as I smile at strangers on the tube or join stupid fucking, inane groups on Facebook (please stop inviting me you cretins). He’s good is Willie, fiercely bright, though hindered by rubbish stubble. He said nice things about the book too (I’m repeating myself I know), said it would make a great film, he has more enthusiasm for it than I do, but then I am fed up of the whole fucking thing already. American editors rejecting it will do that to a man.
An aside: Amazon have been emailing me asking if I’d like to buy the Lady Gaga album in time for Christmas. The last thing I bought on there was the Paris Review compendium of author interviews so I’m not sure what signal I’m sending the huge online retailer that they think I’ll buy some album by that vacuous cunt. Or perhaps they’re simply staffed by morons or just blinded by their own greed and want all their stock shifted in time for Christmas, the twats? Or they saw Paris and thought I meant Paris Hilton? I do hope not. On higher and more noble ground, might I recommend a few things I’ve seen, read and heard recently (like you care)? The Blur movie; No Distance Left To Run, the next Frightened Rabbit album, a documentary called Food, Inc and two books, one called The Forever War the other Flat Earth News. I’d explain more, but I’ve taken up enough of your time already. I’m trying to move house and extract money from Women’s Fitness magazine, I’d advise you to never ever work for them, they’re about as welcome at my house as Amazon. I’m at Kingston University on Friday to speak to the students, come by and we’ll take bets on how long it takes before I smack some dickhead in the audience for attempting to heckle me. As my American friends often say at this time of year, happy holidays…