Pleasant trip to BVI. The few days on Necka were especially relaxing. Sir Richard was his usual charming self. The perfect host. Tough as nails underneath of course. We chatted about old times when I sold his magazines on street corners. Had a good chuckle over that. Now it’s back to gloomy London. The rain. Keep busy is the trick. Tonight it’s the Brit Awards where it will be my privilege to introduce a succession of foulmouthed young drug addicts and make a few sarcastic remarks...in a nice way of course. Hope it won’t be too dreadful.
Only one bag so I go straight from Heathrow to South Kensington on the tube, peasant class. Nobody recognizes me. Which is both a relief and somewhat disappointing. Short walk from the tube station along King’s Road and I’m back in the mews.
The house is just as I left it. Russian oligarchs on each side now but I still like it. The renovations were definitely worth doing. Can’t remember what it looked like when I bought it all those years ago. Easier to imagine it in Dickensian times when it was used for coaches and teams of horses. My bedroom once held hay. The living room was the stable-boys quarters. Another small room upstairs was perhaps a tack room or stable-boy’s quarters. Now I use it for storing Hockney drawings, Furry Freak Brothers Comics, back issues of OZ, first editions of Naked Lunch and other collectibles. Good strong lock on the door. Coming in off street level it’s always amusing to think of great draft horses munching on hay and pissing foaming streams across the Kerman Ravar.
Time for a shower and a change of clothes and it’s off to Earls Court. The Brit Awards turn out better than I expected. Bit awkward at first. I feel like a relic from the Age of Aquarius but it passes. Nobody runs naked across the stage. Even Jarvis seems restrained. My jokes go down well and I actually start to enjoy myself. Obviously a lot of the audience hate me but that’s par for the course. What were they expecting? Russell Brand? Still I get a good round of applause and everybody seems to have a good time.
As usual the action is all backstage. That hasn’t changed. No stink bombs. Minimal dry ice. I mill around chatting amiably with this group and that, trying to remember their names. Lots of grinning entrepreneurial types in power suits, rock-writers trying to pin down elusive Zeitgeists, surfer dudes looking for the next wave. Everybody is bright and outgoing and optimistic and nobody misbehaves. It’s all good clean family fun. I find Pete Doherty having a cup of tea with Amy. Self-destruction temporarily on hold. ‘Outrageously’ coiffured young presenters keep coming up and screaming what a pleasure it is to meet me. Bullshit. They’d dance on my grave. Oh well…that’s the way it goes. The son kills the father or tries to…but they haven’t got me down yet. A person called Gaga or Google or something smears lipstick on my suit. A young lady called Lily is much more polite. She offers me an exclusive which is nice of her. Of course she may have been taking the piss. And that Duffy is quite tasty. I give the Gallagher Brothers a wide berth but even they seem subdued. All I get is a surly scowl. So the whole thing goes quite smoothly. The British music industry has finally got the award show it always wanted. Structured, safe and no embarrassing moments.
So what was I doing there? Letting the buggers know I’m still on the ball I suppose. Suss out the up-and-comers. But I mustn’t be grumpy. I’m glad I did it. It was interesting just to see if any other old farts turned up. Silly really but you’ve got to keep up with the trends. Disappear for too long and you’re dead. Piercings? No thanks, and I’ll pass on the nose-rings thank you. I did think about getting my ears pierced once, well one ear anyway, but it wouldn’t look right. Simon’s just trying to be hip they’d say. I feel sorry for them in a way. They’ve got no taboos left to shatter. They’re inhibited too but they won’t admit it. Brainwashed by decades of political correctness. Scared to say anything in case it offends someone but wanting to push the envelope at the same time. Meanwhile the audience has become unshockable anyway.
I meet a young photojournalist from Tokyo who seems up for it and I invite her back for a nightcap. Her name is Kiyoko. She is trying on one of Yumi’s kimonos when Mick shows up. He’s with his new girlfriend, another leggy American model, no visible tattoos. They’ve just come from India where they stayed with the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Mick offers his appraisal of my performance. He thinks I handled it well. Wouldn’t do it himself, he says, the resentment is almost tangible these days. We talked about this and that, who’s dead and who’s still living. The current fascination with the living dead. He’s thinking of buying a place round the corner he says. Six million quid after a few renovations. Simon Hurst is doing it. I wished him luck. Kiyoko serves cups of Horlicks ceremoniously much to Sir Michael’s obvious amusement, though his American companion is nonplussed. They just don’t get it.