Archive for May, 2017



In 1999, when this record was breaking, I’d just started a job I’d keep for nearly six years.

For the first year or so, it was probably the best year of my career.

This album was played a lot that year, by everyone.

But before that, at the end of 1998 I’d resigned my first ever proper job.

A two year relationship with the girl I’d known from college had fallen apart in the Autumn, with us both doing a great deal of damage to each other.

Everything became a bit of a mess.

It wasn’t helped by the fact that the agency had a heavily subsidised bar.

In retrospect, this is when the drinking started to become habitual.

And there was obviously the cocaine.

Because: London; advertising; late 90s.

One bright light, though, was when a friend from work introduced me to one of her old school friends.

She was very compassionate.

She was very thin.

She had two dogs who she loved very, very much.

I still think of her when I hear Jeff Buckley’s Lover You Should Have Come Over.

She’s the reason I bought Grace.

She’s the girl I took to this Travis show.

Somehow I’d managed to ask her out at the start of ’99.

I took her to a restaurant that I’d been to once before on a work thing.

This was important – it let me feel OK about what I could expect when we walked in, and what might be on the menu.

It was all very, very embarrassing. We should have gone to a pub, I took her to Alistair Little.

I paid far too much for far too formal a meal (well over £100 –the first time I’d ever done that), and then we took the bus back to hers and went to bed.

It was all very, very awkward.

I didn’t realise that nothing would ever happen again, and everything that followed was down to her being a good person to someone who needed support.

Every week I’d call her from the office. And I’m someone who can’t really use the phone.

And every week, it took a huge amount of psyching up.

I often wrote the script of what I’d say.

If I got the answering machine, I’d hang up, write a specific script and then call back just to read it out .

I think I preferred the answering machine.

I felt I’d achieved something without feeling awkward.

Sometime that summer she let me take her to see Rushmore when it opened at the Screen on Baker St.

And then, at the end of 1999, a week before Christmas, I took her to see Travis.

It remains the only time I’ve sat on the balcony at Brixton.

They were amazing.

Driftwood and Reach You were about as definitive of the end of the 90s as Oasis and Radiohead.

It meant something.

They ended with their cover of Baby One More Time.

And after the show, through the light city snow, (SNOW! AT CHRISTMAS! AFTER A TRAVIS SHOW!) she drove us back up to her part of North London, to a pub near hers.

That’s where I had a meeting with an old colleague who sold me a quarter ounce of cocaine and who I then stayed out with a while when she went home.

A fortnight later, on new year’s eve I spent a really quite sedate evening at her flat with her and the friend who’d introduced us.

That was my millennium eve.

She got married a few years later.

I went to the Jewish wedding ceremony and the big party afterwards at an out of town country club.

Two children later, they were divorced.

High: Writing to Reach You. It’s what I felt I was doing.

Drinking: not at the show

Thinking: I think I know this isn’t going to happen but it means so much to me that you let me pretend it could.