Andy Richardson: A fine friend with four fine qualities, but not so sure now!
Don’t write a column about me,” said my pal – let’s call him Tim, because that’s his name. Don’t worry Tim, I won’t.
Tim had been bending my ear about the new Paul Weller single being worse than the most egregious, schmaltzy work of the Lighthouse Family. Tim is always right, which is a bummer, because Weller is a God – or used to be. Sadly Weller’s new single is worse than the most self-indulgent moments of his Style Council years. Soft centred, pappy and as appetising as yesterday’s scrambled eggs, it’s as disappointing as an incorrect postcode in a brand new SatNav; as limp and underwhelming as an envelope dropped in a puddle.
You should listen to it: see what you think. I did. Tim made me. And now I hate Tim.
Because whenever I think of the man who has sound tracked my life, I no longer think of A Town Called Malice, The Butterfly Collector or You Do Something To Me. Instead, I reflect on the way that Weller’s new single, Village, sounds like Lifted, High or Ocean flippin’ Drive.
Tim has sullied a love that knew no bounds, he’s the ink in the well of my reverence for Paul, the grain of sand caught in the smooth-running engine that was Weller’s solo career.
But I digress. And I don’t hold it against Tim, well, when I say I don’t, I mean I’ll never have a conversation with him again without my inner monologue shouting ‘This is the guy who ruined it for you and Paul’. Anyway. Tim told me not to write about him. So I will. There you go, Mr T, that’s for sullying my admiration for Paul, for pointing out the cracks in my Porcelain God. I hope you’re happy. Bloomin’ Lighthouse Family…
Tim has four great qualities, which make him the perfect compadre. They are these. One, he’s bright and funny. Conversation flows, therefore, whenever Tim is in town. Sharp as a tack, light on his feet and with a mind as nimble as a 1970s Hovis loaf – you’ll have to Google that one, kids, it’s a cultural reference from before you were born – Tim’s got it going on.
The second quality is this: Tim knows his music. I’m a prize nerd when it comes to music. I spend most of my working days in a room whose walls are filled with cds. There might once have been a coat of magnolia, but it’s no longer visible. From wall to wall, floor to ceiling, a collection built over 34 years; First CD, New Order’s Substance, bought in 1986. I thank you. Most visitors look at the walls and conclude I’m mad. And yet, I know better. For on one shelf I can run from the brilliant orchestration of Rachel’s to Radial Spangle, Radio 4 (a band, not a radio station), Radiohead, Mark Rae, Joel Rafeal, Rage Against The Machine, Rag And Bone Man, The Ragga Twins and Rail Band, Then there’s Rainbow (I Surrender), The Ramones, Rancid, Raspberries, The Rapture, Dave Rawlings, Alison Raynor and more. That’s just the ones beginning with Ra… And I like to think Tim – a man who knows his Thad Cockrell from his Ron Sexsmith, his Elliott Smith from his Josh Ritter – would approve.
She Who Must Be Obeyed, incidentally, leaves me to it. She refers to the space as a ‘man cave’ and seldom ventures beyond the threshold. We’re fortunate that we seldom disagree or argue, though if we ever did, I imagine she’d get her own back by strategically placing New Order next to Neil Young, AC/DC beside The Pixies and Nina Simpson in front of The Jayhawks. My mind would explode.
Humour, good conversation and a winning taste in music are not Mr T’s only qualities. The third is food. Few know their porcinis from their portabellos with such unerring skill. A gourmand who can suss out an unseasoned steak from 20 paces, he’s a walking-talking mine of information when it comes to decent local restaurants. Able to sniff out the exceptional, sideline the cowboys and point out those that provide essential eating, he is our own Loyd Grossman, but without the lucrative sauce range and plummy vowels.
And then there’s number four: cricket. Tim – don’t worry Tim, I won’t write anything about you, promise – combines the knowledge of Arlott and Benaud with the humour of Johnson and Aggers. And, thankfully, unlike Blowers, he doesn’t bang on about pigeons, Routemaster buses or cake. He once suggested I save up and buy a house with a garden big enough to have my own wicket. I’m still saving.
Anyway, Tim gave me a great idea for a column. He said a significant forthcoming event would cause me to reflect on all of the above. My life would change, my perspective would shift, everything would be newborn. So, his brilliant idea for a column was this…. Damn, I’ve run out of space.
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