Delayed Gratification.

When was the last time you had to wait for bloody YONKS for something you really, really wanted? In this age of immediacy, we rarely have to. Your evening meal can be ready (DING!) within four minutes. Your weekly shop can be done in ten minutes without leaving the house. If you hear a song you like, it is yours to download and listen to at will, in less time than it takes to clean your teeth. We very rarely build up a proper longing for things anymore, and I think perhaps that leads us to cherish them less.

There have been many times I have been worked up over the release of an album, but I think the last time was in 2004. Having seen The Zutons loads of times in little clubs and venues around the NorthWest, I was bloody bursting to get my mitts on their first album, and especially because there was a special 3D zombie giftpack with a limited amount of copies. I booked a holiday for the morning of the 18th of October, and was standing on the steps of Virgin in Crewe, waiting for them to open.

I was their first customer of the day, they hadn’t even had time to work up the customary record shop assistant apathy yet. I got back to the car, tore off the cellophane, put the CD in and drove to work, enjoying my own little piece of Zuton heaven. A moment of bliss I had waited weeks for, and it was worth every minute.

Since then, it hasn’t been that music hasn’t excited me as much, it’s just that it’s been easier to get hold of. You could get an artist’s demo tracks and promo snippets on MySpace. There’s always a a ‘leak’ if something’s hotly anticipated, and there’s always ‘exclusive’ MP3s to stumble upon, download and enjoy, here and there. It’s all so immediate and this isn’t necessarily a Bad Thing. It’s quite exciting to think that you’re hearing a track that was recorded so recently, that the seats in the studio are still warm from the producer’s arse.

However, if you’re a bit ‘old school’ (as the ‘yoot’ would have it) like me, sometime you yearn for the days when you could work up a good set of tummy butterflies for an album. Lucky me then, that this year, I’m being treated to exactly that.

I had missed out on the whole Dodgy experience in my late teens and early twenties for various boring reasons, so when I received a text message in 2007, to tell me that there was a strong possibility that Dodgy were about to reform, I let out a little excited yelp. The day I got the text to say the tour was off because of Andy’s broken arm, I cried with disappointment. Standing at the front at their first Liverpool gig in 2008, there were tears of joy. Hearing rumours of new songs and studio time started the excitement building, and then news that they were off to Texas to polish up the finished recordings… SQUEEE!

At the end of last year, they played the album in full, at all dates on their Autumn tour. A big risk, but it paid off. Every tune was a diamond, and every fan rapidly picked a favourite. By the end of that tour in December, people in the crowd were singing the new songs back to the band, which was amazing considering hardly anyone had those songs to own and to listen to over again. They’d become familar purely in a live setting, which is a great feat for any band, let alone one that hadn’t released any new material since the late nineties.

It is now about three weeks away from the release of that album. Since it was mixed in Texas, I have had to resist countless ways of hearing it. I have been offered emailed MP3s, mini-mixes, promo copies and all sorts. I am only suprised that a car hasn’t been parked outside my house with the album being played at high volume, through a loudspeaker system, strapped to the roof. But I have stayed strong.

There is even the opportunity for Dodgy fans to get a copy of the album prior to the release date, if they come up with a great idea for a ‘listening party’. No thank you. The first time I listen to MY copy of this album, I want to be very much alone. I will prepare the lounge with dimmed lighting, some candles, and maybe even a sandlewood joss stick. I will pour myself a glass of something boozy (a Rioja, I think), headphones on, press play and close my eyes. I expect I will cry. I am a great spiller of tears, especially when it comes to music that makes you feel something.

So between now and the day I receive my copy of Stand Upright In A Cool Place, I don’t want to know. You can keep your sneaky peeks, and exclusive chances to hear a track here and there. I want MY copy of the whole thing, from start to finish, and it’s already making me feel a bit queasy to think it’s just three weeks away.

But something tells me that it’s well worth waiting for…

Fairy Tale.

It was Christmas Eve. Father Christmas had finished making all the children’s toys, and the elves had just helped him to load up the sleigh in a thick, snowy blizzard. He just had time to spend a few hours relaxing before setting off. Father Christmas got into his favourite armchair in front of a roaring log fire, put his cold feet up to thaw, and opened a bottle of ale that he’d been saving for just this moment. Bliss.

Just then there came a knock at the door. BANG BANG BANG! Father Christmas couldn’t believe his rotten luck. One of the elves was sent to go and see. The front door was opened, all the warmth from the fire disappeared and a gale howled through the house, blowing snow into the hallway.

Father Christmas shouted to the elf at the door, “Who is it? Who is at the door on a night like this?!”. Through the blizzard, the elf shouted back that it was the Christmas Fairy.

Shivering now, and not a little unimpressed, Father Christmas shouted back, “Well what on earth does she want at this hour on Christmas Eve, in weather like this?”.

The elf shouted back that the Christmas Fairy had brought them an enormous Christmas Tree, through the dark and wind and snow as a special Christmas gift. Father Christmas shouted, “Well tell her to stick it up her arse!”

And that, boys and girls, is how the Fairy ended up at the top of the Christmas tree.

Big Deal.

I was hoping to be able to write a rip-snorting blog about my day out with Mater. We went to see the filming of an episode of Deal Or No Deal in a BBC Studio and I wanted to tell you about the experience. I wanted to share the day with you, but I can’t. Endemol have Deal Or No Deal wrapped up in more secrecy than a wayward premiership footballer’s extra-marital affairs.

I’m not complaining, I completely understand the need for non-disclosure agreements. I am genuinely ‘on-board’ with the concept of keeping it all a lovely big HOORAH for when it’s aired, and I am not one for ruining a surprise. However, I am now bloody BURSTING to tell all! Don’t get me wrong, there’s no dirt to dish, nothing scandalous to report and nothing sinister to tell of, in fact it’d probably be ever so boring to everyone else. But it was such a nice day out for me and me Mam and we saw such alot of interesting things, it’s proper annoying not to be able to blog about it.

So anyway, I’ll tell you all the bits I think it’d be alright to tell, without being banged up in the Crinkley Bottom slammer.

Mum picked me up at 8:30am and she drove us to Bristol. We didn’t stop off anywhere, and apart from a bit of SatNav bother around Norton Canes (the TomTom decided that instead of continuing to the M5, we ought to go through a random Toll Plaza on a weird roundabout somewhere) the trip was uneventful. A bit of singing along to the radio and some giggling, and we were there.

Upon arriving in Bristol, we had an hour to kill before we were due at the studio, so we went to a nearby Burger King for a coffee and a wee, not necessarily in that order.

The Deal Or No Deal studio is on an industrial estate, which seems to be made up of artist’s studios. Looking at the windows of these little cabins of creativity was very intriguing, lots of exciting little snatches of paintings and sculptures peeking out from behind blinds and curtains. We were put off scent initially because the signs at the studio said ‘BBC Studios’, and as it’s an Endemol production for Channel Four we wondered if we’d got the wrong place. However, we saw a big sign saying ‘Home Of Deal Or No Deal’, and I took Mum’s photo next to it.We also spotted an unlicensed black cab with a shop dummy in the back seat and I am reliably informed that this is Mr Edmunds car.

Everyone in the audience is asked to wear black, so as more audience members turned up we realised we MUST have been in the right place, or else there was about to be a bloody big funeral. We followed the signs to where we were supposed to queue and joined about a dozen or so early arrivers. We stood outside (in the freeeezing bloody cold) for over half an hour, and then were let into a holding area where we handed in our non-disclosure agreements, had our bags checked and then were allowed to take a seat and get a drink.

I am fairly sure I am allowed to tell you about that bit, because there was one of those big boards you get at seaside promenades, with the face of one of the characters cut out, so you can stand behind and put your own face in the hole for a photo opportunity. The board had a picture of Noel with ‘the Banker’, or a character dressed in a suit and bowler hat. Loads of people posed for photos, and Mum asked if I’d like to. I said I’d rather shave my fingers off. I am, of course, WAY cooler than that.

We then queued again and were led back outdoors, across a car park and into the studio. I guess this is the bit I can’t tell you about, so I’ll play some music instead:

Alow me to say just that it was alot of fun, we did alot of laughing, whooping and clapping and Mum was quite beside herself at one stage. Noel is much funnier in real life than in the edited telly version (at least he is to me, a big fan of mucky humour) and I was really glad we went. There, that’s all you’re getting.

We left at about half four and wandered back to the car. Having noted a petrol station by the Burger King we ate in earlier, Mum filled up and we headed off up the M5. We popped the radio on, and at 6pm we were kept abreast of the day’s news by La Fudge, who earlier had texted me with the words, “YOU’RE A FUCKING MARTYR” for tolerating Deal Or No Deal for my Mum’s sake, but if the truth be told, it was actually a really fun day and a great experience!

But hey, don’t tell anyone. Not because it breaches my non-disclosure agreement, but because I don’t want anyone to know I’ve been THIS uncool…

Tick Tox.

I’ve got to That Age. In fact I’ve been at That Age for a few years. I’d started to look at the skin products in Boots for ‘aging skin’, the ones that promise to rejuvenate and stop (if not turn back) time. After eight hours good sleep I look like I haven’t slept in weeks, and if I haven’t slept well, then I look like I was recently dug up.

“Yeah well, it happens to us all”, I hear you say. And you’re right, of course it does. But do we have to accept it when there are so many products and techniques out there to delay the inevitable, even for a little while?

So after failing to find a lotion or potion to perk up my dermis, I grumbled about my increasing wrinkliness to Ann, who didn’t even take a breath before she sad, “Botox”. This is not what I was expecting. I mean Botox is the preserve of the rich and famous, Essex wannabes and Pete Burns, isn’t it? Nope, apparently not. Turns out everybody’s at it.

As with every half-important decision I make, I floated the idea among friends. The responses I got were pretty varied actually. There was a surprising amount who confided, “I have been using it for years, and I swear by it”, and another group who confided that they too have hankered after Botox for a while, but didn’t dare to in case they were turned into Joan Rivers. There were others who sent me really genuinely lovely messages, making sure that I was absolutely positive about this, and telling me (as good friends do) that I am already quite lovely without any intervention, and then there was another slightly weirder minority who tried to convince me that I would die. Hmm.

It was interesting to note that most of those who were being kind about my complexion and making absolutely sure that I was doing it for the ‘right reasons’, were almost all married women or women in relationships. I make this observation because I’m not in that particular demographic. Does that make any difference to how I see my face? No, but as I explained to my pal Zoe, although I’m not doing this for anyone but myself, I want to be able to go out and feel confident. But does that mean I really am doing it for other people, so that I look attractive to them? Well if it does, then the same can be said for t-shirts, lip-gloss and having a wash, I guess.

Being a single girl, I can’t deny that it’d be nice to have a helping hand in the pulling stakes. I also won’t deny that it’s lovely to be chatted up from time to time. It was genuinely heartwarming to have friends tell me they love me “just as you are” (Bridget Jones, eat your heart out), but they’re not going to want to shag me anytime soon, and nor are they in their thirties, single and aware of the competition. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going all out in some kind of psycho man-hunt, all I wanted was to be able to order my drinks at the bar and have the man standing next to me give me a look that says, “Hmm, not bad”.That’s all. It’d be a start. Know what I mean?

After I’d explained myself to Zoe, she knew what I meant. She said that she would fight to her last breath to stop anyone doing something cosmetic out of some kind of need to impress others, but agreed that a self-aware, empowered choice was cool, and quite alright by her. Since Zoe is actually a really good arbiter for most things on the planet (from music, to the public shifting of mucus) her opinion counts, and so I was pleased to have passed her Litmus test. I decided to go ahead.

My lovely mate Ann works as a consultant to a number of different dental clinics who these days offer everything from clinical and cosmetic dentistry to ‘facial aesthetics’. I asked Ann for her professional opinion. After all, it seems a bit odd to go for Botox with the same person who does your scrape and polish, doesn’t it? However, after speaking with Ann, I came to the realisation that actually, no-one would be better placed to do it than a massively qualified medical professional who has a unique understanding of the workings and muscular structure of the face. Ann booked me in at one of her nearby client’s clinics.

So, last Tuesday I went to Endon Dental Care and had Botox Cosmetic injected into my forehead. Haha, sounds scary huh? Voluntarily having botulism injected into my body! There have been one or two who have called me some pretty harsh names for having it done, and one absolute charmer who said that I deserved to die for being so vain. Lovely. I’ve been called many things in my life, but as someone who shaves her legs about as often as Kim Kardashian gets divorced (three to four times a year), that was pretty hilarious. And what those helpful types failed to look up on Wikipedia was that there has never been a case of the spread of botulism (or indeed the plague or the Black Death) when Botox has been used at the recommended dose to treat frown lines. I’m not stupid, I did my homework kids.

I was met at reception, was talked through the treatment at length, and given a medical form to fill in, as I’d never been seen at this clinic before. Usual stuff: name, address, date of birth, have you got TB, are you pregnant, has your head even fallen off. That kind of thing. I had a series of ‘before’ photos taken, or in other words close-ups of me pulling mad faces at a dentist. Eyebrows up, look surprised, frown, grin, scowl, look up, look down.

Then it was time to sit back into the treatment chair. Dr Wray cleaned over my forehead with a steri-wipe and then following where the creases in my forehead were, marked seven sites with a marker pen; four across the width of my forehead, and three in an upside triangle shape, between the eyebrows. When Dr Wray said, “You’ll feel a sharp scratch”, she was exaggerating. It was really nothing, and then within a minute or two we were done. We talked again about the kind of results I could expect and Dr Wray gave me an aftercare sheet, to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do for the few hours immediately afterwards. Obvious stuff really, like no make up or alcohol, and to drink plenty of water, just like after a facial or a massage.

I paid for my treatment (cost price – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!) and said goodbyes to the people I’d chatted to at the clinic. I drove home, and as instructed I spent the evening relaxing on the sofa until bedtime. During that time I experienced a bit of a headache, but nothing I would even have taken a paracetamol for. The only other thing I’ve experienced is a twitch between the eyebrows which was intermittent on day two, but which stopped after a couple of hours.

It’s now four days after my treatment and everyone I’ve seen so far has commented that they can see a positive difference. My forehead is smoother, the creases I had are reducing day by day, and although my eyebrows are still moveable and expressive, they don’t cause my forehead to wrinkle. Brilliant. Just what I wanted. I never wanted to look waxy or ‘fake’, just refreshed and less knackered. I’m really happy to say that’s exactly what has been achieved, although the true result may not been seen until the 14 day mark. I think the effects last from 4-6 months, although I’m not sure if there’s anything you can do to prolong the effect.

I will return to Endon just before Christmas to have my ‘after’ photos taken, and for Dr Wray to check that I’m satisfied with the result. I’m absolutely made up with it so far though, and if anyone is thinking of having  Botox treatment, I would wholeheartedly recommend Dr Wray at Endon. Not only is she friendly and professional, and really knows her stuff, but she’s also a massive Dodgy fan, which I consider to be an excellent personal quality…

Sweet Charity.

Andrea texted me on Saturday, alerting me to a charity gig in Manchester that featured some of our favourite artists and a great comedian. Huzzah! Having done a big “Squee!” and wet my knickers a bit, I gathered up my laptop, searched out the gig in question and sourced us a couple of tickets. I couldn’t believe it, £20 apiece for Badly Drawn Boy, I Am Kloot, Everything Everything and your genial compère, Justin Moorhouse, all at the Comedy Store. Hot damn.

On Monday I got ready at about 4pm (having had a spray-tan mishap, but the least said about that the better), set off from Crewe and picked Andrea up in Sandbach just after 5pm, and we jetted off to Manchester. I say jetted, but what I mean is ‘we grumbled along the M6 in a 10 year old Fiat Punto’, but still. If enthusiasm was fuel, we would have broken the land-speed record.

As we got into the city itself, I knew I was heading for Deansgate but I can never really remember my way round Manchester in the car. I know not why, but I’m usually better off on foot round there. However, this time, we stumbled onto Deansgate almost before we knew we were in town, and as I turned right to get to the Deansgate Lock bars, I spotted a car parking space, right outside the Comedy Store. Bingo. Just as I angled myself to swoop upon this precious speck of city, a taxi shot into it, and it’s woolly-hatted passenger jumped out quickly, into the path of my Italian sports vehicle (ahem).

Yes you’ve guessed, I almost killed Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy. Ooops. Luckily Damon remained both unscathed and oblivious of his near-death experience and carried his guitar into the Comedy Store. Andrea wanted to chase after him and ask to have her photo taken with him, but I suggested that it may not be good etiquette to accost a man who we almost totalled, only moments before.

Andrea and I went into the bar next-door for a cheeky livener. I had a single G&T and she ordered a Budweiser. Nearly £9. I mean seriously, this is Manchester, not friggin’ Chelsea! So we left that bar and went into the Comedy Store for another drink. Having collected our yellow wristbands and bought slightly less extortionate drinks, we sat on stools near the entrance to the auditorium, waiting for the doors to open. At about 7:45pm, people started to rush towards the door. We decided to stand up and stand in front of those queuing. We got a lot of filthy looks, but if I’ve been there for an hour and people who have just walked in from outside are trying to get a better seat than me, then I am going to get shouty on their asses. Luckily it wasn’t necessary, and once again, deaths were avoided.

Having selected our seats (right in the middle, four rows back) we sat down. Or rather Andrea sat down and I perched. The seats were the narrowest seats I’ve ever experienced, and there was a pint-sized cup holder at the end of each arm rest. I wedged my not-inconsiderable rump into the seat and sat there, looking like a pillow jammed into a shoe box. Not cool.

Anyway, first onto the stage was Justin Moorhouse. I told Andrea that his name was Justin Yourhouse, and she believed me. Sorry Andrea. Moorehouse was very funny indeed. No gimmicks or silly voices, just good old-fashioned proper Northern natural humour. Very quick, very sharp and a great talent for painting a picture in your mind, to set up the joke. Lovely stuff. I’d definitely go and see him again.

During his opening set, he happened upon Mary quite quickly. Mary was an American tourist, sitting alone, in the front row, and before he’d even finished saying hello and how lovely we all looked, she had her iPhone aloft, either filming or photographing him. Fish in a barrel. She caught his attention and she remained his ‘victim’ for the remainder of the night. Mary explained confidently that she was a scientist by day and a music blogger by night. This gave Moorhouse plenty to work with, especially as Mary insisted on telling him all about herself and her work, as though he and she were the only two people there. She even had badges to give out, to advertise her blog. Blimey. A sweet girl, but apparently no sense of humour, which was good, because she seemed blissfully ignorant of the couple of hundred strangers who were sitting behind her, laughing away at her expense. And in case you were wondering, Mary’s blog is called There Goes The Fear.

The first band were Everything Everything. Very young with lovely, edgy hair and I was amused to note their frontman looks a bit like a woodland creature, blessim. I have to say, their music isn’t my cup of tea at all, but they were great to watch. Technically fantastic, tight as a Tory chancellor, and truly lovely harmonies. Really enjoyable and while I won’t be rushing to order their album or buy tickets for their next tour, I will always speak fondly of them. Little musical cherubs. Andrea chatted to them later on, and said she liked them because they were always playing in Next. I’m quite sure all their showbiz ambitions came true, right there.

I Am Kloot were next, and having seen both the full band and John Bramwell a number of times before, I knew it was going to be fookin’ fantastic. John came out first and sat on the edge of the stage with his guitar, and did a solo number. He had forgotten to bring his trademark beer crate (he never uses a shoulder strap with his guitar, and so balances his guitar on his knee, which in turn is elevated by the aforementioned beer crate). As ever, John was funny and darkly charismatic. My favourite moment was when he looked skywards and asked, “Is it alright, Richard?”, and then reassured us that he was speaking to the sound engineer in a box above us, rather than an imaginary friend who might offer comfort at awkward moments.

The rest of the band came out, plus their relatively new keyboard and accordion player, a wonderful but all too short set of the band’s best songs were played. Some of the older stuff from Natural History and Gods & Monsters, as well as a couple of my favourites from the beautiful Sky At Night. Absolutely glorious, as always.

Andrea and I intend to go and see John Bramwell play again in a week or so. I hope he forgets his beer crate again, he looks less awkward and seems to work better when he’s sitting down to play. Can’t bloody wait.

The headlining act for the night was Badly Drawn Boy. I was really looking forward to seeing him again, as the last gig I saw him at was at Bridgewater Hall, and he was amazing. Unfortunately, this seemed to be a very different musician. He came out on stage, took his coat off, introduced his guitar “It’s seven years older than me, but wearing alot better..”, and played a song by The National. He chatted away with the crowd, told some jokes, told cheery anecdotes about working on a new film soundtrack, wondered aloud about the trial price on Orangina, and spent a good 50% of his set time fadging about with his Loop Station, mostly unsuccessfully. When he realised it was ten minutes until the end of his set, he asked for some suggestions as to what he should play, disregarded those suggestions because he had the wrong guitar, and then quickly knocked out three songs before the end of his set. Unfortunately people had already started to wriggle in their uncomfortable seats, or were starting to leave, less than discretely.

Mr. Gough found justification in what was a shonky set by anyone’s standards, by explaining that it’s “just for charity” and therefore hoped that he wouldn’t be judged harshly. Wrong. I bought my ticket to see some musicians perform some of my favourite songs, properly. I didn’t buy my ticket to support the Billie Butterfly charity, that was simply an added bonus to Billie’s family. I really have an issue with the attitude that it’s okay to be crap if it’s for charity. The latest Manic Street Preachers single, a shit cover of The The’s sublime This Is The Day, is a great example of this.

I mean, shouldn’t we expect charity performances to be among the best and most passionate a musician can give? Is it enough just to have your name on the bill and turn up an hour before you go on stage, with the wrong guitar, having done no rehearsal and no setlist? I don’t think so.

But what do you think?

Pop Music.

It isn’t often I go to a gig and remain sober (I have a reputation to uphold), but on Friday night I decided to do just that. Having been living it large for a few days in the Big Smoke, it seemed better to stick to fizzy pop for the evening and let my friends Lucy and Andrea paint the town red. And boy did they, floor to ceiling, red as a smacked arse. Both of them are devoted Mums, and so the opportunity to get out of town, go to a gig and get pissed was taken without hesitation. Good on ’em!

I first met Lucy and Andrea in the early 90s. We were all at South Cheshire College together and hung out with similar, combat boot and jumble shop clothes wearing crowds. Lucy and I also both worked at the same Spar shop while we did our A Levels, and Andrea and I had boyfriends living in the same house (squat/midden). Although I last saw Andrea about three years ago at a Yellow Moon Band gig at The Deaf Institute in Manchester, I hadn’t seen Lucy for about 17 years. Christ that makes me feel old. Anyway, I have to say that apart from having blonde hair now, and no specs, Lucy has barely changed at all, and nor has Andrea for that matter. Cowbags.

So having done a day’s hard graft, I went home, freshened up, got changed and went out to pick Lucy up from her house in Crewe, and then on to Andrea’s in Sandbach. It was great seeing Lucy for the first time in 17 years, and she got into my car and said hello like it had only been a couple of weeks. We caught up on gossip, chatted about her kids and recent events in her life, and by the time we’d got to Sandbach it was like old times (except better dressed and not reeking of jazz fags). Then, as Andrea got into the car, it started all over again. A big “Oooh helloooooo!” and excited chit chat as we caught up and renewed friendships, while I fadged about with the Sat Nav, which point-blank refused to find Legh Street in Warrington, or indeed the Osale Rooms. Aaaargh!

We headed for Warrington anyway, and hoped my Sat Nav would find the address when we had got nearer. Lucy and Andrea proceeded to drink wine from a bottle, while I got us increasingly lost. Eventually my SatNav decided it knew where Legh Street was, and we found the Osale Rooms, “LOOOOK! LOOOOK! It says Coronaaaaaa!” and I found a nearby parking spot in a cobbled back street. Since it was absolutely lashing down with rain, we were a bit soggy by the time we got into the venue, but once inside and up the stairs, and with stamps on our hands, we headed to the bar. Lucy and Andrea got stuck into the large rosé wines, and I had a Coke.

Someone had baked Dodgy cakes (not quite as exciting as it sounds) to sell at the bar. It’s a bit alarming to see the faces of three grown men immortalised in buttercream icing, but it was all for charity – a quid a cake. Lovely!

We had arrived in time to see Selfish Lovers play, and although I’ve met Amy and the others before (at a festival and at a gig in Manchester), I’d never heard them play. I was really impressed, even if the set was stripped down due to a lack of bassist and drums. I didn’t catch the name of the next band (why do unsigned bands never tell you wo they are?), but they were great. Lucy even declared a small crush on the lead singer, who sadly was probably young enough to be her son. He was a bit lovely though, blessim.

And then Dodgy. Following a gig in Winchester where a small group of men just stood at the front and chatted, Math starts each gig off now by welcoming the crowd, and while he acknowledges that asking people to listen to new material they don’t know and won’t be singing along to is quite an ask, the reward is a greatest hits set at the end. Personally I think the reward is in hearing the new material, and if you’ve paid to go to a gig, why would you talk all the way through the music? It’s like going to the theatre and staying in the bar all night. Very odd. However, as I stood there near the front, sober and totally aware of everything going on, it suddenly seemed like absolutely everyone wanted to speak to me! I realise of course that it was only because I was clear-headed and super-sensitive to tiddly behaviour, but I did my best to pull a friendly face that said, “Not now, eh?”.

The set was fantastic as usual, and as I looked around, there seemed to be quite a few people who were beginning to sing along to the new songs! The best compliment ever, as a songwriter I’ll bet. The album’s not even out for another couple of months! Chris O’Connor and Nicola Bole were standing next to me, and we nodded to one another to indicate which ones were already becoming our favourites. I have to say that this album is destined for great success, and a Mercury nomination too, if I’ve got anything to do with it. Who do I talk to? Answers on a postcard please.

After a brief pause, the crowd went wild for the greatest hits set, and there was much singing along and much dancing. There may have even been some arms-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care action too. Not me you understand, it was the other people. Drunk people. Honest… *wink nudge*

After the gig Lucy, Andrea and I left the venue and wandered across the car park and heard a voice from a fire escape above. “Oi! Coming up here or WHAAAAT!!??”. It was Chris, Nigel’s nephew. He’s become an integral part of the Dodgy crew, if only because he occasionally gets more monumentally smashed than everyone else put together. Great value addition to the gang. As we looked up to see who was shouting however, Lucy decided to practice her ice skating skills across wet leaves and cobbles, and went arse over apex, bashing her knee and then landing hard on her back. We should have rushed to her aid, but instead we leaned against walls and laughed till it hurt. Sorry Lucy. But she got up, and was okay. The rosé was providing enough anaesthetic to get her through the night. God bless vino.

We followed Chris’s advice, went upstairs to the back stage area and had a few drinks with the gang. Before we knew it a full scale party was going on, but as I got more tired and more aware of my sobriety, I called it a night and bundled the ladies (ahem) into the car by about 2am. An hour later and everyone was tucked up in bed, with hangovers brewing, and happy memories of a great night out. There were also two new converts who were blown away by the new album, and a little bit in love with Dodgy. My work here is done.

I’m so glad I hadn’t seen all that through beer goggles though, makes a nice change to see everyone else be the daft ones, instead of me. It was so lovely to see familiar faces too, like Cath and Andy, Olivia, Chris and Nicola and of course the Selfish Lovers gang, who were a joy, as ever.