Skylarking by XTC from 1986. The single most wonderful record in the history of the Universe. (Possible slight exaggeration, but it is jolly good anyway).
This was a day I thought would never happen. I have been a fan of XTC for so long now. Well over 20 years I have listened to their clever, intelligent, catchy, melodic, annoying, heart-rending, beautiful, wistful music. To me Andy Partridge, main songwriter and singer with the group, has been this icon - a genius of God-like stature, unapproachable, untouchable, almost unreal. A short while ago I got involved with helping with the formation of a local community based radio station in Crewkerne called United FM. They have asked me to present a late night radio show at weekends playing music of all sorts into the wee small hours. I asked if I could have a regular evening slot called "Sheer XTC" where I can play a fine sweep of the works of Swindon's finest product since the Great Western Railway. The management of the station agreed. I then wondered if there was any chance I could sort out an interview or appearance by Mr Partridge at the station, but how to get hold of him? Andy has his own record label now called "Ape House Records" and on hunting down their website (http://www.ape.uk.net/) I sent a rather hopeful email and didn't really expect much to happen. But, boy did it ever happen! I got an email from Andy's assistant saying that he was very happy to do an interview, but it would have to be over the phone as he didn't drive and getting to Crewkerne could be a bit of a "pain in the..." (well, you work it out!).
After much umming and ahhing it was finally settled that the interview would take place at 1.30pm on Thursday March 18th. After various technical difficulties were sorted out by Greg the brilliant techie at United FM, I tentatively phoned Andy on the number I had been given by the record label. And suddenly I was on the phone with Andy Partridge. He was real. He was friendly, and he was laughing at some of my very lame jokes. What a nice chap. I had been booked to speak to Andy for 20 minutes - we ended up talking for over an hour. When the recording had finished Andy wanted to continue the conversation, so we then talked for another 20 minutes, off the record, so to speak which was equally friendly and enlightening. We finally parted with Andy inviting me to Swindon for dinner at a very nice Spanish restaurant that he highly recommended. How fantastic was that? The interview could not have gone better and I am delighted to announce that Andy Partridge is now definitely not a God. No, he seems for more like a close friend, which is truly wonderful.
I am back to being Henry on Friday with a banquet to do at Awford in Hampshire in the afternoon. Should be fun.
Apple Venus from 1999. Another pretty good XTC album. (Alright, it's totally bloody brilliant, but don't take my word for it - buy it!).