Wednesday, 9 December 2009

28. Come On Let's Go, Broadcast (2000)

I bought The Noise Made By People when I lived in 76 Alexandra Gardens, the first home in London that I loved. It was a strange ground-floor four-room flat on a steep, angled road in Muswell Hill – just across from the palace, down the road from The Green Man – and I adored it more than life itself, for some reason. It was tiny and poky and the kitchen smaller than a stamp, but it had little things about it that I just got lost in. The fairylit bedroom that I mentioned earlier, with a brick-built fireplace in the corner holding a wicker basket of fake sunflowers. The fridge full of Steve's leftover pizza from La Porchetta, which Alex and I would nibble like rabbits. The three little steps down to the living room that she would jump down, bang-bang-BANG, the big Casablanca poster we got framed for too much money, which broke as we used it to fight against the wind on the journey home. The sofa where the three of us would squish through that summer of 2000, watching This Life on repeat and the first series of Big Brother, the same sofa where Alex would sit alone one year later, on an afternoon in September, watching two planes endlessly crashing into two silver towers.

Around this time, I met a man. I forget his name now, but I remember he had a bowl haircut, thick glasses, and was a bit older than me – no, it wasn't like that. I can't remember how we met either, but I remember he wanted someone to sing in his new band. We both liked Broadcast and late '60s music, so I thought that was a good sign, and then he asked me to make a tape of me singing some songs.

I still remember how odd that felt. I didn't know what to do. This was something that other people did – people in proper bands, people with confidence. I picked up my mum's guitar – dusty, lovely and strong, as it still is, its lovely 1969 strings slowly bruising my fingers. I strummed along to something by Portishead, I think, and also this song, making sure every note was perfect. It felt weird and wayward, so I hid behind my fringe to press record, and shyly press stop.

I sent him the tape. Some weeks passed. Then some more. And then he finally replied, saying that my guitar-playing style suggested I didn't understand real music, and no one else would think I did either. So when I look at my mum's guitar in the corner of the room now – its strings reaching middle age this year, the dust even thicker – I still apologise to the poor, beautiful thing. But I also still sing this song in the shower every now and then, hoping the man with glasses and bowl hair has seen my byline picture in the Guardian, and I blow him a raspberry.


  1. How can we hear that tape? Did you slip it in to the albums pile for all fellow Mercury Music judges?

  2. Only a museum-quality nozzle-toss with NO sense of music and why people fall in love with it would make such claims about *real* music. What a prancing fool this man was! Please don’t let him stop you from picking up that guitar again and singing, it is your Welsh duty. Now I am going out to throttle any and all bowl-cut, thick glasses-wearing men in case this sorry individual has moved to Illinois to live out his years of shame. Please press record now, girlie.