June 1990. I hate my job, the office, the walls, most of the people, the sheer pointlessness of it all and even after a year of working here I don’t really have much of an idea of what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Files folders, searches, phone calls.
The smoking room, a small windowless office filled with half-seen fag jockeys creating skysworth of smoke clouds that cling to my cheap suit and ‘fro, is the only respite from the whiny superior and daytime radio one with it’s wallpaper pop and songs about summer. Yuck.
Eventually, as with all things, the slow hand of the jobsworth clock groans on five and I grab my patchwork coat that everyone laughs at behind my back and I split, avoiding the lifts (people) and taking the stairs three at a time. By the time my headphones are on and ‘Yr Living All Over Me’ is screaming into my ears and becoming one with my confused and desirous self, I’m walking through Hamilton Square, the grand buildings and businessmen toppling in the wake of my noise.
I walk past the old newsstand, where I buy the NME and Melody Maker every week and follow the road down to the ferry. Down to the cafe hatch in the belly for a cuppa (I drink tea all day but this one is for pleasure rather than an exercise in killing time) and then up to the top, the wind on the open river rejuvenating my senses and I turn towards the Liver Buildings and marvel at the wonder of the city where I live. The ferry docks and the ferrymen, their accents drawn deep from the earth below, secure the ropes and up we go, a slight bow to the Three Graces and up the wind tunnel of James Street, another cigarette and down Matthew Street, coaxing the ghosts and feeling the pull of anticipation, of something about to happen. I don’t belong in that job, with those people, I’m wasting my life.. In and out of the record shops, braving the semi hostile customer service of the mighty Probe Records on Button Street but also Pink Moon with its many stairs, all of them leading to Welcome! Come in! How are you? Heard this?
Past the Jac, past the Blue Angel, Bohn’s Books on the corner (when I get paid, if I get this far, without going the pub, promise) and up the hill, past the institute and art school, the girls freezing on the streets, past the cathedral, Gambier Terrace, and into Huskisson St, fifty eight, first floor, first door, through the corridor and into the room, It’s cold, even in June and there is flypaper hanging from the ceiling. Three bars, soup and cigarettes, cold bath. Then up to Tim’s flat above, always cozy, telly on. Chat, then Radio One, Peel’s on.
Maybe tonight he’ll play our record. He must have it by now. And we’ve written all those letters. He starts, he’s been a bit poorly, he plays the Lemonheads ‘Different Drum’, brilliant, he plays MC 900FT, Terminal Cheesecake in session, Losers, Halo of Flies.. Tim says “He’s not going to play it” and then John Peel says our name, he says our name out loud on the radio when his mic is on and people are listening. He says he loves our record, he says “I’ve had quite a few letters asking me to play this. I suspect they’re all from the band” and then one of our songs is on the radio, on the air with people listening and we’re jumping on the bed and the phone is ringing in the hall and the girl in the opposite flat picks it up and knocks on our door and she hands me the phone and I put it to my ear and start talking to John Peel.