Of course, I didn't have to stay in my hotel room the entire time. I could have gone out and explored Manchester. Manchester is a very exciting city and having a look round is highly recommended. Just one warning: people here like to speak to you.
I wanted socks. Is that such a crime? I didn't even need socks but I really wanted new ones. New socks are always a good idea for a I'm-miles-away-from-home pick-me-up. I went to Top Man which, I believe, is where all the young trendy people buy their socks. I'm sure I saw Kurt Cobain and Jedward in there. Top Man were offering the incredible bargain of £7 for three pairs of socks and I don't know a single human being that could turn that kind of offer down. It's just too good. I chose a pair with yellow crosses all over them, a pair with robots on them and a pair with skulls on them. Yes, I'm quite the hip guy. I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up on the cover of Smash Hits with socks like these or perhaps I'll get a job on T4 by being thick before Friends. Yep, these socks will definitely stop me from being all shit all the time. Nothing can spoil today.
Except this guy.
This guy works in Top Man. He has clothes that hurt me and hair I can't understand. He is easily half my age yet has the beard of a tramp in his 70's. He is wearing two belts. Did he forget that he was already wearing one? Oh, and he has a hat. What a cunt.
This guy then beckons me towards him so keen is he to make the socks mine and therefore I will be able to join his club reserved only for us trend setters. I pass him my socks and he fucking ruins everything. I was so happy a second ago. I had the socks of the Gods and they would lead me out of my gutter and into fame. A second ago I was planning my controversial presenting style at the NME Awards and thinking about fucking someone who's in The Priory but everything has been ruined because this guy decided to speak to me. I handed him my socks and he said "So, what are you up to today?"
WHAT THE FUCK?
What does he mean? What does he want from me? Why does this insane youth want to know what I'm going to do with my day? This is too difficult a question to just spring on me. You can't just ask "What are you up to today?" and expect me to just answer the fucking question. Not honestly, anyway.
My brain got depressed and I said "Shuffling around in a hangover, mate". Yeah. Yeah, that's cool. That's what this bearded baby in brand new old clothes wants to hear. It wasn't true but it was sooooo cool. Maybe I should ask him if I can bum a ciggie off him? No. Don't get ahead of yourself, Michael. He already knows that you're rock hard what with the hangover lie and everything. No need to tell him anything else. That's enough for now. Way better than the truth. If I had said to him "To be honest I'm reading up on the life of William Gladstone today but I'll probably get so bored that I'll end up having somewhere between 2 and 5 wanks" he'd never give you the socks. It's all about the socks, Michael. And look at the big grin on his face. He loved your hangover lie.
"Nice one, mate", he beamed. "I'm a bit groggy myself today to be honest. Not that I had that much to drink last night. I didn't. But you know how sometimes you can drink all night and get away with it the next day but other times you have a couple and then you feel rough? That's me today, I'm sorry to say. Not that I'll be drinking tonight. I can't really. Got a party to go to tomorrow and I want to be on form for that, do you know what I mean? It's my sister's party. Should be good. Not tomorrow night, what am I saying? It's the night after. Even so want to keep a clear head. It's her birthday, you know?"
I don't want the socks. I don't want the socks and I don't want to be cool and trendy and I don't want to be accepted into his cool and trendy gang. Is this what being cool and trendy is like? Christ, it's dull. What a boring, boring, BORING man and will he shut up? No. No, he never fucking will. At least at WH Smith they just try to force half-price chocolate into your skull but here they bore you to death with their constant, tedious friendliness.
I remained quiet. Not because quiet is cool but I just knew that if I said anything it would be loud and have cunt in it. He offered me a store card. I shook my head. He offered me a FREE store card. I shook my head again. The socks were in the bag and all he had to do was pass them to me. He counted the change into my hand, naming all the coins as he did so, and finally gave me the socks that I wanted. That's right. I remember now, I came in here for socks and not for a lecture on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I took the bag and started to move. I hated him but at least I'd never see him again, right? He spoke again as I left.
"See you again, yeah?".
I turned back and replied "Sure. When?"
He looked confused. "What?", he said.
"You said 'See you again'. When?"
He looked confused, upset and even hurt. "Here?"
"Right", I said and left. "Here" isn't really a when but his answer wasn't important. I hope I have made him think. You can't say see you again to someone and not expect them to take it very seriously indeed. It's not like see ya or ta-ra or bye-bye because it sounds like you want to make a commitment. If you say see you again to someone then you MUST be fully prepared for arrangements to be made.
And where would we go, bearded baby? Where on this awful ball of water and dirt is the place that caters for the two of us, eh? Sitting on the sofa staring at Doctor Who? NO. I don't think that you'll find all the it-was-fine-back-then racism of the Talons of Weng-Chiang all that "wicked". What about going to The Fuckpit Indie Scene Club? NO. It'll be too loud and the seats will be sticky, IF we get one.
I doubt that I will ever see this guy again.
Bad news, everyone! Well, bad news for me anyway. After much thinking I've decided that I have to put off my Edinburgh show until next year. I just couldn't get the right venue at the right time for me and I don't want to do this unless I'm happy with the venue. It's too much money to spend so I might as well get that part right even if the show is a magical bag of poo. Not the end of the world, though. I'm still doing the Work In Progress shows at the Hen & Chickens (18th & 19th April) and I'll be doing a lot more throughout the year. Plus I should be doing a show with Robin Ince during the whole of the first week of the Edinburgh Festival. All in all, that's not too bad plus I have next year to look forward to.
Thanks to Brett Vincent for all his help. He's great, he is.