A wet Thursday night on the Archway Road acted as the backdrop to what would turn out to be a fairly difficult (breach) birth to my first novel, Cross Country Murder Song. There were around a hundred people there in all at the very fetching Boogaloo, which put me in mind of some of the old rock and roll bars I used to frequent/haunt on tour. Great jukebox, nice bar, two cats pretty much running the room. They’d set up a small stage for us on which Dan Franklin (greatest editor ever, Napalm Death fan and one of the few people with the balls to take a punt on my book) stood and told the gathering that there was something wrong with me, which he liked very much indeed. Some days I feel exactly the same way.
I got up and wore the crowd down and over the next hour or so (interspersed with some excellent tunes by Mules and Ewing – my favourite law firm), I read three parts from the book, Porn, Fallen and Holiday, though not in that order. I was accompanied by Grant Moon (made infamous by The Perfect Ten, sorry Moon) who belied first night nerves with a brilliant telling of one of the book’s many Choruses and brought the passage where the driver’s paranoia keeps him locked in his car pissing in a variety of containers to vivid life. He got the biggest laugh of the night too and reminded that the book was funny and that was something that the critics had missed.
Willie Dowling (Jackdaw 4, check out their site especially the song Rosebud which was partly inspired by CCMS) was up next, he chose Box (Reprise), but had come more to tell the world what was wrong with popular culture and why a book like mine might be important. I’m not sure it’s important at all (it’s not), but I couldn’t have written it at all without Willie helping along the way. He was fired and a little angry and he caught the damage and danger of CCMS in the breaking ire of his words. Jupitus had picked Plastic, he reckoned that months of playing a woman on stage in Hairspray had given him some sort of affinity with the female lead in that chapter. He was tremendous, a comic he may be, but he can act, really act. I first realised that when we recorded an ad for the Beeb years ago, but that’s another lifetime. Anyway, he brought his performing game to bear and made the character addicted to plastic surgery really come to life. I felt sorry for her all over again, I still wanted her to win, but she didn’t.
Al three were kind/good enough to credit my words, but they gave them colour on the night. It was good to feel them come off the page. They were vivid and lively, funny and cruel, it sounded like a book I might have wanted to write. There was a little disarray later on when someone who should have known better got as drunk as a character in a Tom Waits’ song and decided to tell me what exactly was wrong with my book and me as a human being. I couldn’t have cared less, but it upset some people I care about very much. That aside, the book’s out now, I went and stared at it in Waterstones and Foyles and it made me feel as warm as I might have hoped. It appears to be selling pretty well for a debut too. We’ll see.
On a different tip, people keep asking me if BBC 6 Music is closing down, I really don’t know. Phill wrote a very good piece about it for the Guardian website on Friday, accompanied by a very old picture of us. I saw the editor at my launch and I’m not sure he knew either. The Kaki King album is great as is the Kick-Ass movie. This week I’m interviewing Killing Joke, reviewing Dan Reed at the Union Chapel, going to see the Rush documentary and then John Waite at the Underworld in Camden. Like Jethro Tull, I’m currently living in the past.